OLYMPIA — Passing a basic skills assessment will no longer be required for individuals to be admitted to teacher preparation programs after legislation sponsored by 13th District Rep. Alex Ybarra, R-Quincy, was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday.
“We’ve got a teacher shortage and we just need more teachers, you know. That’s all there is to it, so I think it’s going to be exciting for everyone,” said Ybarra.
Ybarra likened the function of the exam under his bill to the GRE, Graduate Record Examinations – a test like the SAT, but for graduate school programs – and moves away from standardized testing as the single predictor of knowledge and skills. Ybarra outlined a more comprehensive admissions style that includes test scores but also looks at community involvement, volunteer and professional history, among other factors.
The basic skills assessment is still required to be taken, but a “passing” score will no longer be required for entry to the preparation program, but the scores will be used as one factor of many to evaluate candidates.
The Professional Educator Standards Board requested this legislation and has been supportive of the “small step” to reduce the teacher shortage, according to a representative in public testimony on Feb. 12.
A representative from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction echoed Ybarra’s sentiments in public testimony saying this small change can help diversify individuals who are accepted into teacher prep programs.
Ybarra, himself, speaks English as a second language and hopes this change will encourage bilingual people to enter teacher prep programs. Inslee’s office has also been supportive of the legislation throughout the process.
Ybarra was appointed to office earlier this year to replace former Rep. Matt Manweller. For his first bill signing, Ybarra’s daughter flew in to support her father and for a visit. Ybarra said he is excited to be able to not only see his daughter, but to share that moment with her.
House Bill 1621 passed the House unanimously on March 6 and passed the Senate with a 42-2 vote on April 12. Senators Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, and Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, were the only legislators to vote against the measure.