In Japan, teacher certification is awarded by the (prefectural) Boards of Education (BOE) to all teacher candidates who have completed an initial teacher education (ITE) programme (Table 1). There are 64 BOEs in the 47 prefectures and 17 municipalities of designated states in Japan. The BOEs have a large role in organising and delivering ITE, selecting and hiring teachers, and organising induction in Japan.
However, in order to be eligible for a tenured teaching position in a public school, certified teachers must sit the Teachers’ Employment Examination, which is administered by BOEs every year. Each BOE sets its own standards and requirements for the Teachers’ Employment Examination. Most BOEs use a first- and second-stage examination to ensure candidate suitability. First- and second-stage examinations often take place in July and August, respectively. Examinations typically consist of:
In the Law Promoting the Prevention of Bullying proclaimed on the 28th Jun 2013, which of the following is not an indicator that the recommended policy measures have been implemented in a school? Choose one.
First-stage examinations typically test general knowledge, subject-based knowledge and professional knowledge. Some BOEs administer essay writing, interview, practical and aptitude test in the second-stage examination. Some BOEs administer essay writing and/or interview in both first- and second-stage examinations.
The Teachers’ Employment Examination is an important driver of quality of teacher candidates and ITE programmes in Japan.
Commonly, about one third of certified teachers are hired after sitting the Teachers’ Employment Examination in primary education and less than 15% of new graduates in lower and upper secondary education. Most certified teachers have sat the examination previously, often multiple times (Table 2). In private schools, certified teachers also need to sit the examinations, but these are typically administered by individual schools.
Graduates do not “pass” or “fail” using a minimum-standards approach. Rather, the top‑ranking graduates are placed into a local hiring pool by the Board of Education, thus aligning teacher supply and demand. Those who pass the examination have tenured employment status and are eligible for one year of induction, also provided by the BOE. Those who are not hired can become temporary teachers and/or resit the exam the following year.
|Total certified |
|Type of certified teacher||Primary education||Lower secondary education||Upper secondary education||Special Education Schools|
|...Who sat the Teachers’ Employment Exam||New graduates|
|Total||53 606||59 076||35 680||10 601|
|...Who passed and were employed after sitting the Teachers’ Employment Exam||New graduates|
|Total||14 699||8 277||5 108||2 846|
|Hiring (or competition) rate||New graduates|
Most Boards of Education publish data on the number of certified teachers who sit the Teachers’ Employment Examination (x), the number of candidate teachers who passed the Teachers’ Employment Examination and were subsequently employed (y) – and the hiring (or competition) rate (x/y). For example, in the Tokyo Prefecture, 13 555 certified teachers sat the Teachers’ Employment Examination in 2018, of which 3 027 were hired, resulting in a hiring rate of 4.4 (Tokyo Prefecture, 2018). Japanese universities also report on the number of applicants and enrolments in ITE programmes (see Promising Practice 7. Annual reporting of data on initial teacher education programmes in Japan).
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) also publishes data on the hiring rate of universities and university programmes, creating high levels of competition between universities – and, in principle, incentives to improve their programmes (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, 2018).
The OECD Review Team in its review of Japan from 5-8 September 2016 concluded that the Teachers’ Employment Examination is a strength in that:
However, the OECD Review Team also noted that:
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (2018), News release: [Graduates employed, by national teacher training university in Japan] (in Japanese), (accessed on 11 March 2018). 
Tokyo Prefecture (2018), [Results of the March 29 Tokyo Public School Teachers’ Employment Candidate Selection] (in Japanese), (accessed on 11 March 2018). 
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