HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — It’s all in the numbers. Interest in the teaching profession has fallen over the last decade, just as many older teachers are retiring.

“We’re down to about a third of the number of people we had in 2017-2018 who were getting certified in Pennsylvania,” said David Christopher, Superintendent for the Cumberland Valley School District.

At Cumberland Valley, science and world languages are the hardest positions to fill. In June, the state put together a plan to try to fill these jobs. One change is the elimination of the basic skills assessment test to make sure teaching applicants were competent in math, reading and writing.

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“We would much rather have large pools of individuals that we can screen through to try to find people who really want to work with students,” David Christopher said.

Cumberland Valley Superintendent David Christopher says fewer than half pass it on the first try.

“There really isn’t a correlation between your score in a basic skills exam and your quality as a teacher,” Christopher said. 

Others don’t buy that argument, and worry that doing away with the basic skills assessment test will lead to less qualified people leading Pennsylvania classrooms. Christopher doesn’t see it that way.

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“We already have lots of things in place to help starting teachers, which include mentorship programs that are required. Districts are doing a much better job of onboarding and  teachers are hired under what is called a temporary educational contract until they receive tenure,” he added.

Pennsylvania isn’t the only state waiving the skills test, so have thirteen other states. The waiver will be in place for three years until a study is done to see if it really improved the quality of teaching candidates.