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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality
process of developing standards and assessments for more than 30 certification fields identified by the subject or subjects taught and by the developmental level of the students.
For each certificate, development work starts by articulating a set of content standards, based on the five core propositions set forth in the NBPTS central policy statement (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 1996:2– 3; see Box F-1). The drafting of the content standards for each certificate based on these core propositions is handled by a committee comprised primarily of teachers experienced in the relevant subject area along with experts in child development, teacher education, and the relevant academic discipline. Public review and comment are obtained for the content standards, and the feedback received is used in the final revision of the standards (Moss and Schutz, 1999).
The final version of a content standards document states that the standards “represent a professional consensus on the critical aspects of practice that distinguish exemplary teachers in the field from novice or journeymen teachers. Cast in terms of actions that teachers take to advance student outcomes, these standards also incorporate the essential knowledge, skills, dispositions, and commitments that allow teachers to practice at a high level” (e.g., National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 1996:1). Moss and Schutz (1999:682–683) describe the Early Adolescence/English Language Arts Standards:
[T]here are 14 distinct Early Adolescence/English Language Arts (EA/ELA) Standards…Standard II states that:
“Accomplished EA/ELA teachers set attainable and worthwhile learning goals for students and develop meaningful learning opportunities while extending to students an increasing measure of control over how those goals are pursued.” . .
This standard is then elaborated into a full-page description that includes statements such as, “Educational goal-setting is an interactive process in the middle-grades English teacher’s classroom…. These activities often include a strong mixture of student involvement and direction”; “in carrying out learning direction activities, accomplished teachers adjust their practice, as appropriate, based on student feedback and provide many alternative avenues to the same learning destinations”; or “the planning process is inclusive, no one is allowed to disappear.”
Box F-2 provides an overview of the standards for EA/ELA. These content standards are then used to guide all aspects of assessment development for that certification assessment.
Once the content standards are created for any given certificate, the assessment developers (now primarily at Educational Testing Services, or ETS) are joined by a second committee of approximately eight experienced teachers in the development and pilot testing of assessment tasks and the accompanying rubrics that will be used to score candidates’ performances. Although each assessment