Any computer test that meets certain criteria can substitute for traditional college training to certify teachers, the Idaho Board of Education has decided.

The board passed the redrafted rule March 12. The original, temporary rule passed in November allowed only the computerized test by the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, which has raised concerns from professional teacher-education associations, among others. (See “Web program gives fast track to certification,” )

In response to the move, Senate Education Committee Chairman Gary Schroeder delayed action on legislation to slap a two-year moratorium on computer certification.

Board staff members said the redraft was not a reaction to the harsh criticism the American Board test has been receiving from some lawmakers.

“It’s just a better rule,” said board spokeswoman Luci Willits.

She said she knew of no similar test, but Randy Thompson, the board’s chief academic officer, said the rule establishes criteria any computer certification must meet. Idaho’s education colleges are

free to develop their own test, Thompson said.

Under state regulations, Idaho residents pursuing a teaching certificate must have a bachelor’s degree from an Idaho institution, a recommendation from that institution regarding successful student teaching, a criminal background check, and certificates of competence with technology and literacy.

The computer certificate, to be awarded one time and be valid for three years, would replace the degree, the student teaching, and the background check, Thompson said. Candidates who pass the state technology and literacy tests any time during the three years after getting the computerized certificate would become fully certified.

The most frequent criticism of the computer test is that it involves no student teaching and instead focuses on teacher mentoring. Thompson said the mentoring component would be conducted online or by videotape exchanges with qualified, established teachers or teachers in the candidate’s local district. The American Board also is assembling its own stable of mentors for candidates to use, he said.

State Schools Superintendent Marilyn Howard, who has battled with board members, was the lone dissenter, in part because of lingering suspicions about the validity of computer certification.

“This is what my dad would call a John Deere overhaul,” she said. “We’re painting this and somehow it’s fixed.”