. "6. Using Licensure Tests to Improve Teacher Quality and Supply." Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2001.
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality
achievement; and follows students over time. The research should track students in and out of classrooms and schools, collecting relevant data on teacher and school characteristics. It should collect information about teachers’ backgrounds, education, and licensure; it should catalog school resources.
The research should examine licensure testing, beginning teacher performance, and student learning. Representatives should look at existing data sources, such as the National Center for Education Statistics Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey (www.nces.ed.gov/ecls) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth-Child Data (www.states.bls.gov.nlsy79ch.htm), to evaluate their utility and build on any useful data collection systems.
Initial licensure tests are only one factor influencing the supply of new teachers. The quality and size of the pool of new teachers depend on many things, including recruiting efforts, other licensing requirements, labor market forces, licensing reciprocity, teacher salaries, and the conditions under which teachers work.
The committee’s analysis of teacher quality and supply issues leads to the following conclusions:
To the extent that the tests provide accurate measurements, setting higher passing scores would be expected to increase the proportion of teacher candidates in the hiring pool who are competent in the knowledge and skills measured by the tests, although higher passing scores will tend to lower the number of candidates who pass the tests. To the extent that test scores have measurement error, setting higher passing scores could eliminate competent candidates.
Reducing the number of newly licensed teachers could require districts to make difficult choices, such as hiring uncredentialed teachers, increasing class sizes, or increasing salaries to attract licensed teachers from other districts and states.
Setting substantially higher passing scores on licensure tests is likely to reduce the diversity of the teacher applicant pool, further adding to the difficulty of obtaining a diverse school faculty.
Little research has been conducted on the extent to which scores on current teacher licensure tests relate to other measures of beginning teacher competence. Much of the research that has been conducted suffers from methodological problems that interfere with making strong conclusions about the results. This makes it hard to determine what effect licensure tests might have on improving the actual competence of beginning teachers.