From the ERIC database
Assessment for National Teacher Certification. ERIC Digest 7-88.
The concept of teacher testing has gained wide acceptance, as reflected in its extension to 48 states. All but Alaska and Iowa are in the process of, or have already implemented some form of mandatory teacher testing, as of April 1987 (Rudner, 1987). The limitations of state procedures, i.e., different standards, approaches and requirements (McCaleb, 1987), combined with significant improvement in evaluation techniques have led to the call for a system of national assessment.
The Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy, convened for the purpose of improving education and teaching, responded to the need for national criteria by launching the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in 1987. Changes initiated by the Board are expected to transform teaching (albeit gradually) from an undervalued, underpaid profession to one enjoying higher standards, better salaries, and prestige. Teacher education, in the process, would be enhanced as pedagogical institutions consider, and respond to the requirements of a national criterion.
WHAT WILL NATIONAL CERTIFICATION MEAN?
WHAT WILL NATIONAL CERTIFICATION TESTING CONSIST OF?
In the meantime, the Carnegie Corporation has been funding research by the Teacher Assessment Project (TAP) at Stanford University's School of Education to explore alternative modes of teacher assessment. In 1986-87, TAP research focused on assessing teacher competencies in elementary math and high school history. TAP developed and field-tested prototypes in these areas to define testing specifications for an assessment center (Teacher Assessment Project Newsletter, Summer 1988). Each prototype targeted a limited area, viz., fifth grade fractions and the American revolution at the secondary level, on the theory that workable models in narrow areas must be developed before assessments in each content-area could be designed (Olson, 1988).
The Project is currently extending the assessment center format and exploring on-site documentation through portfolio development as a means of assessing elementary literacy and high school biology. The portfolio would be a diversified sample of a teacher's best work that would be combined with assessments to decide the professional excellence of a candidate for certification. Samples of a teacher's work might include planning a unit, teaching a lesson with resources other than a textbook, and evaluating student progress (Teacher Assessment Project Newsletter, Fall-Winter 1988). The candidate might also be required to provide reflective commentaries and contributions from actual classroom experiences (Nelson-Barber, 1988).
In addition, TAP is exploring productive ways for its prototypes to be used in curriculum and program development. It is collaborating with teacher education programs serving diverse populations that can undertake some formative uses of assessment. These include the City College of New York, Florida A&M University, Pan American University in Texas, the University Alaska-Fairbanks, and an Ohio Consortium of Schools, including Wright State University, Central State University, the University of Dayton, and the Dayton Public Schools. TAP has also organized two working seminars to examine how new assessments and procedures could be designed to minimize biases that unfairly disadvantage minority students, and to reveal strengths not apparent in other types of teacher assessments (Teacher Assessment Project Newsletter, Fall-Winter, 1988.)
WHAT EFFECT MIGHT NATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND CERTIFICATION HAVE ON
Voluntary certification is also likely to create uncertain status for teachers who fail to qualify, leading some teachers to avoid the process because of the stigma that may accompany failure. In addition, there is the possibility that assessment procedures will have an adverse impact on minority groups (Ibid.).
These potential problems are not insurmountable, however. They can be dealt with by ensuring procedural fairness, i.e., giving teachers an equal chance to succeed. The Board can facilitate this by publishing preparatory materials for the exam, sponsoring regional training sessions to help teachers prepare, permitting the exam to be retaken, and establishing an assessment standard that a majority of teachers can meet. The Board could then gradually raise its standards as assessment-related knowledge is absorbed into the curriculum and the competence of new teachers increases (Ibid.).
In addition, there are distinct advantages to a national assessment for teachers. A nationwide standard paves the way for increased mobility and professional development opportunities, assuming states eventually adopt board standards and exempt nationally certified out-of-state teachers from routine testing requirements. National assessment is also more efficient. It eliminates duplication in the research and development of testing and permits states to profit from economies of scale. Furthermore,the combination of state resources is bound to result in a better assessment product than any one state could develop with the necessarily limited funds at its disposal. Finally, national assessment facilitates the development of a codified knowledge base, essential for the professionalization of teachers. Without such a base, teaching will not be accorded the legitimacy given other professions (Ibid.).
McCaleb, Joseph. (Ed.) (1987) How do teachers communicate? A review and critique of assessment practices. (Chapter 1) Washington, D.C.: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education. ED 282 872.
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. (1988) Institutional brochure. Washington, D.C.
Nelson-Barber, Sharon. (Ed.)(1988) Thinking Out Loud. Proceedings of the Teacher Assessment Project Forum on Equity in Teacher Assessment. (p.39) Stanford, CA: Stanford University School of Education.
Olson, Lynn. (1988, June 8). "Capturing teaching's essence: Stanford team tests new methods". Education Week, 7 (37), 20.
Rudner, Lawrence M. et al. (1987) What's happening in teacher testing: An analysis of state teacher testing practices. (p. 1) Washington, D.C.: Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education. ED 284 867.
Shulman, Lee S. (1987) "Assessment for teaching: An initiative for the profession." Phi Delta Kappan, 69 (1), 38-44.
Shulman, Lee S. and Sykes, Gary. (1986) A national board for teachers? In search of a bold standard. (p. 24, 43) Paper prepared for the Task Force on Teaching as a Profession. Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy. New York: Carnegie Corporation.
Teacher Assessment Project. (1988) Elementary literacy component of the teacher assessment project: Research program overview. (p. 1-2) Stanford, CA: Stanford University School of Education.
Teacher Assessment Project. (1988, Summer) Newsletter, Stanford, CA: Stanford University School of Education, 2(1), 1, 3.
Teacher Assessment Project (1988, Fall-Winter) Newsletter. Stanford, CA: Stanford University School of Education. 2(2), 1-3, 7-9. ------------
This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under contract no. 400-83-0022. The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of OERI or the Department
Title: Assessment for National Teacher Certification. ERIC Digest 7-88.
Descriptors: * Evaluation Methods; Higher Education; * National Programs; Preservice Teacher Education; State Standards; * Teacher Certification; * Teacher Evaluation
Identifiers: ERIC Digests; *National Teacher Certification
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