teacher preparation programs, to report statewide passing rates on licensure tests for their teacher candidates, and to report the numbers of individuals teaching who have waivers of state licensure requirements. States are also required to report the passing rates of candidates at each teacher education institution and, based on these, to rank teacher education programs or place them in quartiles. The law requires teacher education institutions to report on the quality of their teacher preparation programs, to report their students’ passing rates on state teacher licensure tests, to compare the institutions’ passing rates to the state’s average passing rates, and to indicate whether their programs have been designated as low performing.
The law’s requirements create a mechanism that could limit federal funding to teacher preparation programs from which states have withdrawn approval or funding because the programs are low performing. The law prohibits these programs from enrolling students who receive federal financial aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. The institutions also are ineligible to receive professional development funds under the law. The law’s provisions have met with notable resistance from some states and higher-education institutions that question whether its requirements provide a sound basis for determining the quality of teacher preparation and licensure programs.
The importance of efforts to improve teaching quality and the difficulty of this work recently led the U.S. Department of Education to request that the National Academy of Sciences empanel the Committee on Assessment and Teacher Quality under the aegis of the Board on Testing and Assessment. In early 1999 the committee was asked to examine the appropriateness and technical quality of teacher licensure tests currently in use and to consider alternatives for developing and assessing beginning teacher competence. The committee also examined the merits of using licensure test results to hold institutions of higher education and states accountable for the quality of teacher preparation and licensure.
Do Current Tests Measure Beginning Teacher Competence Appropriately and in a Technically Sound Way?
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