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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality 2 Defining Teacher Quality Defining teacher quality is fundamental to understanding the role of licensure tests in promoting it. This chapter discusses the variety of ways in which teacher quality has been defined and describes the standards that form the basis for some of the current definitions. It suggests that the knowledge and skills used by competent teachers are many and varied. To learn whether or how licensure tests might promote teacher quality, the committee believes it is important to distinguish teacher quality from teaching quality. States and local districts play an important role in promoting teaching quality. If schools are not well organized and supportive, it is possible that even good teachers will not be successful (Raudenbush et al., 1992). Successful teaching depends on many factors, including the level of instructional resources available, staffing levels, continuing professional development, and support from administrators and parents (Johnson, 1990). The school and community forces that shape teachers’ practices and student learning are numerous and important. This chapter examines teacher quality—the knowledge, skills, abilities, and dispositions of teachers. Defining teacher quality is no simple task, though, because the criteria for doing so vary from person to person, from one community to another, and from one era to the next. This chapter begins with a review of some of the country’s most prominent historical definitions of teacher quality. It then discusses current definitions of teacher competence by describing themes that are common to the teaching standards that have been developed by states, national organizations, and organizations that accredit teacher preparation programs. We use the standards of the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Edu-
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality cation (NCATE), and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) to discuss current conceptions of teacher quality. INTASC is a consortium of state education agencies promoting standards-based reform through the development of licensing standards for beginning teachers. INTASC provides a vehicle for states to work together on licensing standards and assessments for beginning teachers. NCATE has been strengthening standards for teacher education programs, recently incorporating the performance standards developed by INTASC in the development of standards for accreditation of teacher education programs. NBPTS has developed standards for advanced certification, describing what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do. NBPTS has established a national voluntary system to assess and certify teachers to meet its standards. These various standards represent contemporary views of teacher quality and are relied on, in part, for the discussion below of what teachers need to know and do to promote student learning. PAST DEFINITIONS OF TEACHER QUALITY Teaching is, first and foremost, a cultural activity, and notions of teacher quality have changed over time as American society has shifted its values and concerns. Moreover, at any given time, different individuals and groups can hold very different ideas about teacher quality. A review of past definitions of teacher quality can provide a context for understanding contemporary definitions. Teachers Should Personify Virtue One popular criterion for teacher quality is high moral character. Teachers are often expected to be good role models for students and to represent the highest standards of social propriety. This view of teacher quality was especially widespread in the early 1900s. At that time, teachers were often placed on pedestals, so to speak, as were ministers. When a teacher entered a room, people stopped talking and became self-conscious and embarrassed. To illustrate the importance of moral character in teaching, Willard Waller, writing in 1932, provided this interesting contract that teachers in one community were expected to sign: I promise to take a vital interest in all phases of Sunday-school work, donating of my time, service, and money without stint for the uplift and benefit of the community. I promise to abstain from all dancing, immodest dressing and any other conduct unbecoming a teacher and a lady. I promise not to go out with any young men except insofar as it may be necessary to stimulate Sunday-school work.
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality I promise not to fall in love, to become engaged, or secretly married. I promise not to encourage or tolerate the least familiarity on the part of any of my boy pupils. I promise to remember that I owe a duty to the townspeople who are paying my wages, that I owe respect to the school board and the superintendent that hired me, and that I shall consider myself at all times the willing servant of the school board and the townspeople (p. 43). While this contract is quite dated, the notion that virtue is important is still widely discussed, and entire books are devoted to the place of ethics and moral behavior in contemporary teaching (van Manen, 1991; Noddings, 1984; Tom, 1980). Teachers Should Transmit Cultural and Educational Values Another definition of teacher quality emphasizes a broader range of personality and character traits—such as curiosity, enthusiasm, and compassion. Interest in personality traits was especially widespread in the decades immediately following World War II, partly in response to popular psychoanalytical theories and partly in response to concerns that America needed to ensure that it would not be susceptible to the totalitarian influences that had captivated other countries (Adorno et al., 1950; McGee, 1955). Each personality trait had its own rationale, and each was the subject of a variety of efforts to develop measures that could be used in screening candidates for teaching. For example, one theory held that a certain kind of personality, the authoritarian personality, was especially susceptible to fascist influences. The authoritarian personality was defined as someone who respected social hierarchy and felt unusually strong admiration and loyalty to those in positions of authority (Adorno et al., 1950). Associated with this broader social concern was a concern about the extent to which teachers might be fostering authoritarian values in school and a belief that American society would benefit if teachers’ personalities were the antithesis of the authoritarian personality. Thus, there was a great deal of interest in finding a way to measure authoritarian values and to use those measures to screen teaching candidates. It is worth noting that researchers working during this period generally assumed that gains in student achievement were not good indicators of teacher quality because they represented far too narrow a range of outcomes. It was assumed that, in addition to fostering student learning, teachers served as moral role models and that they instilled a variety of social values in their students. Consequently, when researchers tried to evaluate their measures of teachers’ personal qualities, they usually looked for evidence of a relationship to observed practices or to principals’ ratings of teachers, rather than evidence of a relationship to student achievement (Getzels and Jackson, 1963).
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality Teachers Should Competently Teach the Prescribed Curricula Another definition of teacher quality focuses on teachers’ skills rather than their morality or personality traits. This approach to teacher quality was especially widespread in the post-Sputnik era when American policy makers sponsored numerous curriculum design efforts and wanted teachers to implement the programs exactly as specified. Pursuing the idea of the teacher with technical skills, researchers in the next decades focused on observing teachers in their classrooms, at first to see how well they were implementing specific curricula and later to document specific teaching practices that seemed to be associated with gains in students’ test scores (Brophy and Good, 1986). This latter body of work focused on discrete practices such as questioning and lesson pacing. This research came to be known as “process-product” research, since it sought relationships between classroom processes and the product of gains in student achievement. This movement marked the first time that student achievement became a widely accepted criterion for teacher quality. The goal of this research was to identify specific behaviors that other teachers could emulate. Researchers focused on such skills as question asking, lesson pacing, and clarity in explanations. It is important to recall, too, that early in this country’s educational history, Americans were operating separate school systems for black students and white students and did not pay much attention to the needs of other nonwhite groups in education policies and practices. Most discussions about teacher quality, at least until the 1960s, referred mainly to white teachers teaching white students. The situation changed somewhat in the 1950s and 1960s, after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. Even then, though, discussions among mostly white scholars and politicians tended to focus more on the distribution of education resources than on questions of teacher quality. CURRENT DEFINITIONS OF TEACHER COMPETENCE These examples demonstrate how definitions of teacher quality have varied across time. In the 1980s and 1990s, Americans—particularly American policy makers—developed yet another definition of teacher quality. Today’s definition of teacher quality differs from its predecessors in several ways. First, it acknowledges the diversity of the student population in a way not previously done. Second, it asks for a level of instruction that is more intellectually rigorous and meaningful than has traditionally been the case. These definitions of teacher quality are less concerned with teachers’ character traits or technical proficiency and more concerned with teachers’ ability to engage students in rigorous, meaningful activities that foster academic learning for all students. Finally, current statements on teacher quality are standards based and define the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that teachers should demonstrate.
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality Recent attempts to define teacher quality have sought ways to broadly represent the views of the field and to benefit teacher development and assessment. Although the field does not unanimously support the teaching standards that have resulted, a significant degree of professional consensus is implied by the wide adoption of standards for beginning teachers, for the accreditation of teacher education programs, and for accomplished teachers. Several factors—both internal and external to the fields of education and teacher preparation—have coalesced to impel the development of teacher standards. Current Standards for Teacher Competence Three organizations have been particularly active in establishing standards for teacher quality, and all have relied on both research and consensus-building procedures to do so. The first, NBPTS, was created in 1987 and has developed a national, voluntary system for testing and rewarding accomplished teaching. NBPTS provides certificates to teachers seeking advanced credentials. INTASC was created shortly after NBPTS. The consortium of states working with INTASC has developed “National Board-compatible” licensing standards and assessments for beginning teachers. The standards developed by NBPTS and INTASC are linked to one another and to the student standards developed by national disciplinary organizations and states. INTASC and NBPTS have used consensus models to develop teacher standards. In developing their core standards, both have worked with teachers and other experts in child development, teacher education, and the academic disciplines. They formed standards development committees to examine the literature on teaching, learning, and best practices and to describe what beginning and accomplished teachers need to know and be able to do. They drafted teaching standards that identify the knowledge, skills, abilities, and dispositions needed to teach. The draft standards were broadly vetted with teachers, teacher educators, and relevant professional bodies. They were critiqued at professional meetings and in focus group sessions. Revisions to the core standards were made to reflect the input and describe the consensus of the field. The consensus-based development models used by INTASC and NBPTS seek to identify competencies about which there is consensus in the field. This work resulted in NBPTS’s five propositions for accomplished teachers and INTASC’s model standards for beginning teachers. NCATE’s standards are aligned with the INTASC principles. Because of the research that guided development of the standards and to the consensus model that the organizations used to garner support from the field for those standards, the committee chose to use them to describe current conceptions of teacher competence. The INTASC, NCATE, and NBPTS standards appear in Appendix B of this volume. Readers interested in additional information about the research utilized during the development of these standards can refer to What Teachers Should Know and Be Able
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality to Do (NBPTS, 1994), Model Standards for Beginning Teacher Licensing and Development (INTASC, 1992), and Standards, Procedures and Policies for the Accreditation of Professional Education Units (NCATE, 1997). Themes from Standards for Teachers All three sets of standards examine teaching in light of learning. They explicitly acknowledge that teachers’ actions or performances depend on many kinds of knowledge and on dispositions to use that knowledge and to work with others to support the learning and success of all students. These initiatives incorporate knowledge about teaching and learning that supports a view of teaching as complex, contingent on students’ needs and instructional goals, and reciprocal—that is, continually shaped and reshaped by students’ responses to learning events. The standards take into account the teaching challenges posed by a student body that is multicultural and multilingual. The standards recognize the learning styles of special-needs students and of students who possess different learning styles. By reflecting new subject matter standards for students and the demands of diverse learners, as well as the expectation that teachers should collaborate with colleagues and parents in order to succeed, the standards define teaching as a collegial, professional activity that responds to considerations of subjects, content, and students. The three sets of standards are substantively connected and represent a continuum of development along a teacher’s career path. The INTASC standards describe the knowledge, skills, abilities, and dispositions of beginning teachers. The NCATE standards are targets for the approval of teacher education programs and describe the knowledge and skills of teacher candidates. The NBPTS standards describe accomplished teaching. In the next section, central themes that emerge across the standards are described. Because the categories of teacher competence of the NBPTS standards are broader and therefore fewer in number, the committee used them here to organize discussion of the themes. Teachers Are Committed to Their Students and Students’ Learning A central theme across the three sets of standards is that teachers should be committed to their students and their students’ learning. Teachers should act on the belief that all students can learn and should develop and use curricula that encourage students to see, question, and interpret ideas. To ensure that all students do learn, teachers should understand how the developmental levels of their students affect learning and how classroom instruction should be modified to reflect students’ needs. They should foster students’ self-esteem, motivation, civic responsibility, and respect for others. To accommodate and respond to the needs of all their students, teachers should also understand and modify instruction to incorporate learning opportuni-
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality ties for students with learning disabilities; visual and perceptual disabilities; and speech, physical, and mental challenges. To fully understand their students and how they learn, teachers should recognize the ways in which cultural backgrounds and other sources of diversity shape students’ perspectives on the content and process of learning. The standards say teachers should understand how students’ personal and family backgrounds shape their talents and perspectives. This is especially important because today’s students come from varied cultural backgrounds. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2000), racial/ethnic minority students made up 22 percent of the country’s student population in the early 1970s. In 1998 the percentage of students from minority backgrounds enrolled in public schools had increased to 37 percent. The excerpts in Box 2–1 from the INTASC, NCATE, and NBPTS standards explain these ideas more fully. The full texts of the standards are contained in Appendix B. BOX 2–1 Teachers Are Committed to Their Students and Students’ Learning INTASC: The teacher understands how children learn and develop, and can provide learning opportunities that support their intellectual, social, and personal development. The teacher understands how learning occurs—how students construct knowledge, acquire skills, and develop habits of mind—and knows how to use instructional strategies that promote student learning…. The teacher appreciates individual variation within each area of development, shows respect for the diverse talents of all learners, and is committed to help them develop self-confidence and competence…. The teacher assesses individual and group performance in order to design instruction that meets learners’ current needs in each domain (cognitive, social, emotional, moral, and physical) and that lead to the next level of development. The teacher understands how students differ in their approaches to learning and creates instructional opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners. The teacher understands and can identify differences in approaches to learning and performance, including different learning styles, multiple intelligences, and performance modes and can design instruction that helps use students’ strengths as the basis for growth…. The teacher believes that all children can learn at high levels and persists in helping all children achieve success…. The teacher identifies and designs instruction appropriate to students’ stages of development, learning styles, strengths, and needs. The teacher uses knowledge of effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication techniques to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom. The teacher appreciates the cultural dimensions of communication, responds appropriately, and seeks to foster culturally sensitive communication by and among all students in the class…. The teacher knows how to ask questions and stimulate discussion in different ways for particular purposes, for example, probing for learner understanding, helping students articulate their ideas and thinking processes, promoting risk taking and problem solving, facilitat
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality ing factual recall, encouraging convergent and divergent thinking, stimulating curiosity, helping students to question. NCATE: Candidates reflect a thorough understanding of professional and pedagogical knowledge and skills delineated in professional, state, and institutional standards, as shown in their development of meaningful learning experiences to facilitate student learning for all students. They reflect on their practice and make necessary adjustments to enhance student learning. They know how students learn and how to make ideas accessible to them. They consider school, family, and community contexts in connecting concepts to students’ prior experience and applying the ideas to real-world problems. NBPTS: Accomplished teachers are dedicated to making knowledge accessible to all students. They act on the belief that all students can learn. They treat students equitably, recognizing the individual differences that distinguish one student from another and taking account of these differences in their practice. They adjust their practice based on observation and knowledge of their students’ interests, abilities, skills, knowledge, family circumstances, and peer relationships. Accomplished teachers understand how students develop and learn. They incorporate the prevailing theories of cognition and intelligence in their practice. They are aware of the influence of context and culture on behavior. They develop students’ cognitive capacity and their respect for learning. Equally important, they foster students’ self-esteem, motivation, character, civic responsibility, and their respect for individual, cultural, religious and racial differences. SOURCES: Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, 1992; National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, 2000b; National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 1994. Used by permission of the authors. NCATE reserves all rights. The full texts of the standards are contained in Appendix B. The text included here is from the core principles of the standards. INTASC and NBPTS have content-specific standards as well. Teachers Have Deep Subject Matter Knowledge Another important theme of the standards is the need for deep subject matter knowledge. Teachers should know the substance and structure of the disciplines they teach. They should be able to translate difficult substantive ideas into terms that students can understand, to diagnose students’ understandings and misunderstandings, and to develop explanations, examples, and representations, including learning activities themselves, that are appropriate for students’ levels of understanding. INTASC, NCATE, and NBPTS standards on the need for subject matter knowledge appear in Box 2–2.
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality BOX 2–2 Teachers Have Deep Subject Matter Knowledge INTASC: The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and can create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students. The teacher understands major concepts, assumptions, debates, processes of inquiry, and ways of knowing that are central to the discipline(s) s/he teaches…. The teacher realizes that subject matter knowledge is not a fixed body of facts but is complex and ever evolving. S/he seeks to keep abreast of new ideas and understandings in the field…. The teacher effectively uses multiple representations and explanations of disciplinary concepts that capture key ideas and link them to students’ prior understanding. The teacher plans instruction based upon knowledge of subject matter, students, the community, and curriculum goals. The teacher understands learning theory subject matter, curriculum development, and student development and knows how to use this knowledge in planning instruction to meet curriculum goals…. The teacher believes that plans must always be open to adjustment and revision based on student needs and changing circumstances…. The teacher creates lessons and activities that operate at multiple levels to meet the developmental and individual needs of diverse learners and help each progress. NCATE: Teacher candidates have in-depth knowledge of the subject matter that they plan to teach as described in professional, state, and institutional standards. They demonstrate their knowledge through inquiry, critical analysis, and synthesis of the subject. Teacher candidates reflect a thorough understanding of pedagogical content knowledge delineated in professional, state, and institutional standards. They have in-depth understanding of the subject matter that they plan to teach, allowing them to provide multiple explanations and instructional strategies so that all students learn. They present the content to students in challenging, clear, and compelling ways and integrate technology appropriately. NBPTS: Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students. Accomplished teachers have a rich understanding of the subject(s) they teach and appreciate how knowledge in their subject is created, organized, linked to other disciplines, and applied to real-world settings. While faithfully representing the collective wisdom of our culture and upholding the value of disciplinary knowledge, they also develop the critical and analytical capacities of their students. Accomplished teachers command specialized knowledge of how to convey and reveal subject matter to students. They are aware of the preconceptions and background knowledge that students typically bring to each subject and of strategies and instructional materials that can be of assistance. They understand where difficulties are likely to arise and modify their practice accordingly. Their instructional repertoire allows them to create multiple paths to the subjects they teach, and they are adept at teaching students how to pose and solve their own problems. SOURCES: Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, 1992; National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, 2000b; National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 1994. Used by permission of the authors. NCATE reserves all rights.
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality BOX 2–3 Teachers Manage and Monitor Student Learning INTASC: The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage students’ development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills. The teacher understands the cognitive processes associated with various kinds of learning (e.g., critical and creative thinking, problem structuring and problem solving, invention, memorization and recall) and how these processes can be stimulated…. The teacher values flexibility and reciprocity in the teaching process as necessary for adapting instruction to student responses, ideas, and needs…. The teacher carefully evaluates how to achieve learning goals, choosing alternative teaching strategies and materials to achieve different instructional purposes and to meet student needs (e.g., developmental stages, prior knowledge, learning styles, and interests). The teacher understands and uses formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuous intellectual, social, and physical development of the learner. The teacher understands the characteristics, uses, advantages, and limitations of different types of assessments (e.g., criterion-referenced and norm-referenced instruments, traditional standardized and performance-based tests, observation systems, and assessments of student work) for evaluating how students learn, what they know and are able to do, and what kinds of experiences will support their further growth and development…. The teacher is committed to using assessment to identify student strengths and promote student growth rather than to deny students access to learning opportunities…. The teacher appropriately uses a variety of formal and informal assessment techniques (e.g., observation, portfolios of student work, teacher-made tests, performance tasks, projects, student self-assessments, peer assessment, and standardized tests) to enhance her or his knowledge of learners, evaluate students’ progress and performances, and modify teaching and learning strategies. The teacher uses an understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create a learning environment that encourages positive social inter Teachers Manage and Monitor Student Learning To ensure that students progress, teachers should know how to identify learning goals and choose from a variety of teaching and learning strategies that will engage students in the learning process. This includes selecting the necessary educational resources (computers, books, and audiovisual equipment), selecting the most appropriate instructional role (instructor, facilitator, coach, or audience), and effectively implementing instructional strategies in the classroom. Occurring simultaneously with the management of student learning is the monitoring of student learning through ongoing assessment of student progress. Hence, teachers should be aware of the different kinds of assessments that can be used in the classroom, such as criterion-referenced and norm-referenced tests, traditional standardized and performance-based tests, observation systems, and portfolios of student work. The standards in Box 2–3 describe the knowledge, skills, and dispositions teachers need to manage and monitor student learning.
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality action, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation. The teacher can use knowledge about human motivation and behavior drawn from the foundational sciences of psychology, anthropology, and sociology to develop strategies for organizing and supporting individual and group work…. The teacher understands how participation supports commitment and is committed to the expression and use of democratic values in the classroom…. The teacher creates a smoothly functioning learning community in which students assume responsibility for themselves and one another, participate in decision making, work collaboratively and independently, and engage in purposeful learning activities. NCATE: Teacher candidates accurately assess and analyze student learning, make appropriate adjustments to instruction, monitor student learning, and have a positive effect on learning for all students. NBPTS: Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning. Accomplished teachers create, enrich, maintain, and alter instructional settings to capture and sustain the interest of their students and to make the most effective use of time. They also are adept at engaging students and adults to assist their teaching and at enlisting their colleagues’ knowledge and expertise to complement their own…. They know how to engage groups of students to ensure a disciplined learning environment and how to organize instruction to allow the schools’ goals for students to be met. They are adept at setting norms for social interaction among students and between students and teachers. They understand how to motivate students to learn and how to maintain their interest even in the face of temporary failure. SOURCES: Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, 1992; National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, 2000b; National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 1994. Used by permission of the authors. NCATE reserves all rights. Teachers Are Reflective About Their Teaching Teachers make decisions that affect their students’ learning throughout the day and over the course of the school year. To feel comfortable with their decisions, competent teachers evaluate these decisions and experiences and make continual adjustments in their curricular plans in response to students’ progress. They revise their own repertoire of behaviors, classrooms rules, and learning activities as they learn more about how their students tend to respond to these things. The standards call for teachers to be reflective about their practice. Teachers should use classroom observation, information about students, the professional literature, colleagues, and other resources as sources for evaluating the outcomes of their teaching. They should experiment with, reflect on, and revise their practice to improve their effectiveness in meeting students’ needs and achieving instructional goals. To be reflective requires teacher candidates and accomplished teachers to be self-directed, to engage in critical thinking about
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality BOX 2–4 Teachers Are Reflective About Their Teaching INTASC: The teacher is a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of his/her choices and actions on others (students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community) and who actively seeks out opportunities to grow professionally. The teacher understands methods of inquiry that provide him/ her with a variety of self-assessment and problem-solving strategies for reflecting on his/her practice, its influences on students’ growth and learning, and the complex interactions between them…. The teacher is committed to seeking out, developing, and continually refining practices that address the individual needs of students…. The teacher uses classroom observation, information about students, and research as sources for evaluating the outcomes of teaching and learning and as a basis for experimenting with, reflecting on, and revising practice. NBPTS: Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience. Accomplished teachers are models of educated persons, exemplifying the virtues they seek to inspire in students—curiosity, tolerance, honesty, fairness, respect for diversity, and appreciation of cultural differences—and the capacities that are prerequisites for intellectual growth: the ability to reason and take multiple perspectives to be creative and take risks and to adopt an experimental and problem-solving orientation. Accomplished teachers draw on their knowledge of human development, subject matter and instruction, and their understanding of their students to make principled judgments about sound practice. Their decisions are not only grounded in the literature but also in their experience. They engage in lifelong learning, which they seek to encourage in their students. Striving to strengthen their teaching, accomplished teachers critically examine their practice, seek to expand their repertoire, deepen their knowledge, sharpen their judgment, and adapt their teaching to new findings, ideas, and theories. SOURCES: Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, 1992; National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 1994. Used by permission of the authors. their teaching, and to be open and responsive to feedback received from other professional colleagues. The standards in Box 2–4 address reflective teaching. Teachers Are Members of a Broader Community The final theme of the standards recognizes that teaching does not occur in a vacuum. Students and any individual classroom are part of a larger context both within and outside the school. The teacher needs to understand the role of the school and the staff in the broader community. Specifically, the teacher understands how factors in students’ environments outside school, such as family circumstances, community environments, health, and economic conditions, may
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality influence students’ lives and learning. To this end, the teacher makes a concerted effort to establish relationships with students’ parents and guardians. Within the school, the teacher also participates in collegial activities designed to make the entire school a cohesive unit and a productive learning environment. Box 2–5 provides excerpts from the INTASC, NCATE, and NBPTS standards. These standards illustrate the wide range of knowledge, skills, abilities, and dispositions that contemporary educators believe competent teachers must possess and demonstrate in the classroom. Competent teachers are committed to their students and students’ learning, possess deep subject matter knowledge, effectively manage and monitor student learning, are reflective about their teaching, and are members of the broader school community. The standards are useful in providing a framework of the complexities and multiple dimensions of teaching, yet, as BOX 2–5 Teachers Are Members of a Broader Community INTASC: The teacher fosters relationships with school colleagues, parents, and agencies in the larger community to support students’ learning and well-being. The teacher understands how factors in the students’ environment outside of school (e.g., family circumstances, community environments, health and economic conditions) may influence students’ lives and learning…. The teacher is concerned about all aspects of a child’s well-being (cognitive, emotional, social, and physical) and is alert to signs of difficulties…. The teacher establishes respectful and productive relationships with parents and guardians from diverse home and community situations and seeks to develop cooperative partnerships in support of student learning and well-being. NCATE: Candidates’ work with students, families, and communities reflects the dispositions expected of professional educators as delineated in professional, state, and institutional standards. Candidates recognize when their own dispositions may need to be adjusted and are able to develop plans to do so. NBPTS: Teachers are members of learning communities. Accomplished teachers contribute to the effectiveness of the school by working collaboratively with other professionals on instructional policy, curriculum development and staff development. They can evaluate school progress and the allocation of school resources in light of their understanding of state and local educational objectives. They are knowledgeable about specialized school and community resources that can be engaged for their students’ benefit and are skilled at employing such resources as needed. Accomplished teachers find ways to work collaboratively and creatively with parents, engaging them productively in the work of the school. SOURCES: Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, 1992; National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, 2000b; National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 1994. Used by permission of the authors. NCATE reserves all rights.
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality mentioned earlier, there is not complete consensus in the field about these standards. Concerns with the standards have included challenges to the research base that supports the NCATE standards (Ballou and Podgursky, 1999) and issues about the breadth of the statements that define the standards (Richardson, 1994; Roth, 1996). The breadth of the standards causes problems in developing assessments, as their broad nature leaves open a variety of interpretations (Roth, 1996). This makes it difficult to translate the standards into test specifications and to develop assessments of the intended skills. The ongoing development of content-specific standards by NBPTS and INTASC begins to address this issue. Also, it is not explicitly stated what level of performance the standards relate to—the ideal, normative, or minimum? A third concern relates to a teacher’s ability to demonstrate all of the behaviors denoted in the INTASC standards. As Richardson (1994:17) states: “Is it possible for a beginning teacher to attain the deep knowledge and understanding of classrooms, students, context, and subject matter implied in these principles?” The next chapter shows how the field has attempted to develop teacher tests and assessments based on standards of teacher competence. The NBPTS assessments examine the performance of experienced teachers and are not the focus of this report. This report is about testing for initial licensure. Initial licensing tests are not intended to test for advanced levels of performance or for all of the knowledge and skills characteristic of accomplished teachers. They are intended to test the knowledge and skills of entry-level teachers. Building on the teaching competencies outlined in current teacher standards, Chapter 3 describes the procedures that states use to identify the knowledge and skills needed for minimally competent beginning practice. It examines current state tests and other initial licensure requirements. CONCLUSION Definitions of what teachers should know and be able to do have changed over time as society’s values have changed, and they will continue to do so. The job of teaching students to learn and use new information, develop and apply skills, and think critically is highly complex and demanding. Teachers need to motivate and engage all students, including students from varied backgrounds and those with different learning and language needs. In addition to being responsible for student learning, teachers are expected to provide safe and nurturing classrooms, serve as good role models, and to engage parents and the community in the business of their school. Teachers need a wide range of knowledge, skills, abilities, and dispositions to perform these many complex tasks. The quality of teaching in a school depends on more than just individual teacher quality. It also depends on factors such as the amount and quality of
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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality instructional resources available, teacher professional development, staffing, and support from administrators and parents. There is no single agreed-upon definition of what competencies a beginning teacher should have. Different professional organizations and many states have recently developed standards for teachers. The fact that different states have affiliations with these national and regional standards development efforts suggests some agreement between states about standards for teacher competence. Given that states have different educational standards for students, have teacher candidate pools with different characteristics, and that licensing of teachers is a state responsibility, it is not surprising that there is some variation in the knowledge and skills that states seek for beginning teachers.
Representative terms from entire chapter: