ERIC Identifier: ED477730
Publication Date: 2002-12-00
Author: Suh, Thomas - Fore, Raechelle
Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.
The National Council on Teacher Quality: Expanding the Teacher
Quality Discussion. ERIC Digest.
What does the future bode for America's schoolchildren? Recent results of the
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)--the Nation's Report
Card--indicate improved student performance in both math and reading. These
statistical gains, however, are modest, and when viewed in the context of actual
learning, are not so promising. The average eighth-grader cannot calculate the
amount of change from a purchase (Braswell, Lutkus, Grigg, Santapau, Tay-Lim,
& Johnson, 2000), and indications are that s/he will not be able to do so
for another six years. In reading, nearly 40 percent of fourth-graders remain
unable to read at even a basic level--a level defined as "prerequisite" for
reading proficiently (Donahue, Finnegan, Lutkus, Allen, & Campbell, 2001).
Results in the international arena are even more discouraging. In the 1995
Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) involving twenty-six
nations including the United States, American fourth-graders placed twelfth in
mathematics, and a respectable third in science (Calsyn, Gonzales, & Frase,
1999). When TIMSS was re-administered four years later to eighth-graders in
thirty-eight countries, American students had lost ground, slipping to
nineteenth in mathematics and eighteenth in science (Gonzales, Calsyn, Jocelyn,
Mak, Kastberg, Arafeh, Williams, & Tsen, 2001).
Why such poor performances? One explanation is the predominance of teachers
not qualified to teach. Research tells us that the influence of teachers is the
single-most important factor in determining student achievement, even more so
than socioeconomic status (Sanders & Rivers, 1996; Collias, Pajak, &
Rigden, 2000), which for years was deemed as having the highest correlation to
academic success (Coleman, 1966). Studies also indicate that the impact of a
teacher (for good or for bad) is cumulative, having a lasting, measurable effect
on academic performance (Sanders & Rivers, 1996), and accounting for the
discrepancy between "gifted" and "remedial" (Haycock, 1998). Students with less
exposure to qualified teachers, therefore, seem far less likely of achieving
academic success than those with more. Given the recurrence of disappointing
results on student learning assessments at the national and international
levels, too many of America's students do not appear to be receiving enough
exposure to qualified teachers.
CERTIFIED TEACHERS V. QUALIFIED TEACHERS
performance on NAEP, TIMSS, and other standardized measures of student learning
raises questions about teacher quality and the effectiveness of teacher
certification. For years, states relied on certification to ensure teacher
preparation quality, despite the lack of any compelling evidence justifying the
selection of the certification requirements. With the push to assess student
learning, especially since the 1983 release of A Nation at Risk, we now have
data suggesting that state certification has not fulfilled its gatekeeping role.
Research tells us that teachers who major in the subject-area taught have a more
positive impact on student achievement than teachers majoring in an out-of-field
discipline, including those who major in education (Goldhaber & Brewer,
1999). Yet, teacher certification in many states does not require subject-area
expertise. According to data published in 2001 by the National Association of
State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC), less than a
third of all states require an academic major in the subject to be taught, and
only two-thirds require teacher candidates to pass a subject-matter exam for
initial licensure. Given the failure of states to ensure subject-area
competence, it is questionable whether state certification is able to guarantee
whether a certified teacher is necessarily a qualified teacher.
While teacher educators are largely unconvinced of the correlation between
teacher subject-area preparation and student academic achievement (Collias,
Pajak, & Rigden, 2000), it is more widely accepted in other circles. Leading
education groups such as the Education Trust, the Education Leaders Council, and
the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, characterized by their
diversity as much as by their commitment, have repeatedly acknowledged the
importance of the link between teacher subject-area preparation and student
learning. The federal government has also expressed its desire to strengthen
teacher preparation. Amidst a great deal of controversy, the President of the
United States signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), which
stipulates, among other things, that Title I schools hire only highly-qualified
teachers beginning in the fall of 2002, and that there be a highly-qualified
teacher in every classroom by the end of the 2005-06 school year. To be deemed
"highly-qualified," a new teacher must be able to demonstrate "rigorous
subject-matter preparation . . . either through adequate performance on a test
or through successful completion of a major, graduate degree, or advanced
credentialing" (Paige, 2002). Veteran teachers are required to hold at least a
bachelor's degree and demonstrate subject-matter competence through less formal,
but no less demanding, requirements (see NCLB, Title IX, Part A, Section 9101
Though opinions may differ in coming years over the benefits of NCLB, one
indisputable accomplishment stands: the framing of the teacher preparation issue
in terms of teacher quality--not teacher certification. Based on studies that
examine individual student learning, we know that the quality of a student's
teacher is the single-most important factor in a student's education. Improving
teacher preparation may, therefore, require going beyond the realm of current
state certification, and focusing on actual student understanding and
achievement needs. Some states and universities have seriously begun dealing
with this issue, exploring initiatives to align student academic content
standards with teacher licensure, for example, and involving liberal arts
faculty in the development of the teacher training curriculum. While a number of
education schools "do not consider content knowledge their responsibility"
(Cross & Rigden, 2002), this attitude is changing, albeit slowly.
MISSION AND ACTIVITIES
The National Council on Teacher
Quality (NCTQ) is committed to improving teacher quality by promoting public
awareness of scientifically-based teacher quality strategies and market-based
initiatives, and encouraging reforms that lead to measurable gains in student
achievement. NCTQ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated
to the belief that America's public education can be improved through better
teaching. NCTQ originated as the Teacher Quality Initiative, a joint project of
the Education Leaders Council and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, but has
since emerged as an independent voice in the public conversation concerning
NCTQ's efforts to fulfill its mission can be categorized as three distinct
activities: publishing materials that address teacher quality issues,
maintaining an online teacher quality information clearinghouse, and assisting
states, school districts, and colleges to improve teacher quality. In addition
to these core activities, NCTQ is involved in a project to develop a national
teacher certification--American Board for Certification of Teacher
Excellence--that will recognize strong subject-area knowledge, and encourage the
use of documentable student learning gains to measure teacher effectiveness.
The Teacher Quality Bulletin (TQB) is an online
newsletter published by NCTQ for the purpose of fostering public understanding
of teacher quality issues. Each issue provides analyses of the current news,
studies, and reports concerned with such important topics as teacher
compensation strategies, alternative routes to certification, teacher retention,
and teacher preparation reform. TQB is currently published biweekly and
available free of charge.
From time to time, NCTQ also publishes briefing reports, memos, and other
material that offer a more in depth treatment of key teacher quality policies,
issues, and programs. Last year, it published a detailed analysis of the
then-proposed Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization.
NCTQ will also release, "A Consumer's Guide to Teacher Quality: Opportunity and
Challenge in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001," and another publication,
"Moving Towards Excellence: Exemplary Teacher Preparation Programs."
ONLINE INFORMATION CLEARINGHOUSE
NCTQ believes that the
condition of American public education should be transparent to the American
public. As a result, NCTQ has developed an online information clearinghouse that
people may access via the Worldwide Web. Plans are being considered to expand
the clearinghouse to include an archive of the latest teacher quality research.
In addition to promoting public awareness of
teacher quality issues, NCTQ provides technical assistance to states, school
districts, and institutions of higher learning committed to improving teacher
quality. NCTQ makes available a wide variety of services ranging from
legislative and standards analysis to program development and evaluation.
AMERICAN BOARD CERTIFICATION
The American Board for
Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) represents a new approach to teacher
certification. There are two levels of certification--Passport and Master
Teacher--both of which provide superintendents and principals with a reliable
measure of assurance that the holder (regardless of geographical origin) is
competent in his or her subject-area.
Passport certification, which is designed for licensing prospective teachers
whether right out of college or after having spent years at another career, also
recognizes that the holder has a fundamental understanding of effective
instructional and assessment strategies, including basic classroom management.
Master Teacher certification, which is designed for the veteran teacher, carries
the added distinction of recognizing teacher effectiveness as measured by
documented success in bolstering student achievement. Like the Passport, Master
Teacher certification will be nationally-recognized, allowing teachers to have
their certification recognized in other states.
In addition, a series of studies will be conducted to examine the predictive
validity of both certification programs, and an online preparation program for
taking the certifying exams developed.
Current research suggests what most people have
long-known--the key to student success in the classroom is the teacher. The
process for preparing teachers, however, is largely based on requirements that
have little relevance to improving student learning. Until the teaching
community is willing to align teacher preparation with student achievement, we
will be unable to offer each student the education s/he deserves.
more information about NCTQ, contact:
Council on Teacher Quality
19th St., NW, Suite 400
References identified with an EJ or ED number have been abstracted and are in
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& Johnson, M.S. (2001). The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics 2000.
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