The state of Arizona wants to make sure teachers are able to make the grade before they hand out grades to students. So starting next year, the Grand Canyon (search) state will adopt the toughest teacher standards in the country.

It’s called the Arizona Teacher Performance Assessment (search) and it’s a series of tests new teachers have to pass in order to stay on the job.

Click in the video box to the right to watch a report by FOX News' Anita Vogel.

"The purpose is to be sure that every teacher is an effective teacher of students,” said Tom Horne, a school superintendent in Arizona (search). “It's part of the accountability system. We're holding our schools accountable.”

But critics — including some union officials and school administrators — say the program is too rigorous. One principal in Arizona said it’s a barrier in recruiting teachers and that people are less attracted to the profession the more testing they need to go through.

“I feel a lot of good people would be in this profession if there were more benefits for us,” said teacher Nancy Ramirez. “By adding another criteria, another hoop that teachers have to jump through, I feel like we're really going to discourage more.

There are three stages to the new requirements. First, they have to pass written competency exams. Then they’ll be granted a provisional three-year teaching certification. After that, they have five chances to pass the first stage of a national board certification.

If they fail, they’re out — and will not be allowed to teach in any Arizona public school.

And passing national certification isn’t easy.

On top of the tests, the program requires a videotape of the teacher conducting a class, detailed analyses of their instruction, documentation of work outside the classroom, and peer evaluation. Many teachers welcome the high standard.

Arizona will be the first state in the nation to require teachers to participate in the national certification program.