ORONO, Maine — The music instructor who came close to losing his job with the Orono school department because he had not received the required score on a state certification exam, drawing protests from members of the community, has passed the test, his wife and an education official said Monday.
That means Waldo Caballero will likely keep his job, though he still must submit some materials to complete his certification application.
Caballero, who works in the Orono schools as orchestra director and boys soccer coach, had been told by Superintendent Joanne Harriman he needed to become certified by the Maine Department of Education in order to teach in the coming school year. He needed to improve his score on the teacher certification exam by two points in order to do so, Anna Caballero, his wife, said.
On Monday, Anna Caballero said that Waldo Caballero had exceeded the score required by the department, though she declined to give his exact total. She said she was told by the department that the application is not entirely complete and there is some question as to which type of certification he will get.
The DOE’s certification coordinator, Mark Cyr, confirmed Caballero had met the requirements but said some renewal materials had yet to be completed for the certification application.
“Just having reviewed it earlier this morning, all the required courses and test requirements will have been completed,” he said of Waldo Caballero’s certification application.
The threat that Caballero might not go back to work prompted community members to protest outside the Town Hall two weeks ago, then stage a concert outside the building as school board members entered last week for their monthly meeting.
Caballero, who is originally from Bolivia, taught in the Orono schools for 14 years. Last year he was able to teach with a waiver that had been requested by the superintendent and in previous years he had held conditional teaching certificates.
Harriman congratulated Caballero on Monday for “meeting this important career requirement” and confirmed that he would continue teaching this year.
“That is terrific news,” she said in an email. “I always knew he could do it!!”
Anna Caballero said Monday afternoon Waldo Caballero was not available for comment.
Teachers applying for certification in Maine must score a combined total of 526 on the Praxis exam, a standardized test made up of three parts: reading, writing and mathematics. Test takers can earn a minimum score of 100 and a maximum score of 200 on each part, so the highest possible score is 600.
About 150 teachers in Maine work with waivers each year for a variety of reasons, according to Cyr, the certification coordinator.
The department certifies approximately 2,800 new teachers a year and renews certification for about 6,600. In the 2013-2014 school year, there were about 15,442 full-time equivalent teachers in Maine schools, according to data from the DOE.