. "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
Ferguson and Brown (2000) reexamined data from the two earlier Ferguson studies. One study examined teacher licensure test results (Ferguson, 1991), and the others examined other tests of basic skills. Ferguson (1991) studied teachers’ performance on the Texas licensing test, the Texas Examination of Current Administrators and Teachers (TECAT), which measures reading and writing skill, including verbal ability and research skills, as well as a limited body of professional knowledge. Ferguson found that the following four district average teacher and school variables were related to student performance on the Texas Educational Assessment of Minimum Skills examinations in reading and mathematics: TECAT scores, teachers’ experience, number of students per teacher, and percentage of teachers with master’s degrees. TECAT scores were found to account for 20 to 25 percent of all variation across districts in student average scores.
Ferguson and Ladd (1996) conducted similar district-level analyses in Alabama but used ACT scores (not scores on a licensing examination) as measures of teacher ability. School average scores for teachers on the ACT test were related to student achievement but less so than for the earlier TECAT study. Ehrenberg and Brewer (1995) also found positive relationships between teachers’ performance on basic skills tests and student achievement, though results varied for elementary and high school students and by students’ racial/ethnic status.
Subject Matter Knowledge
Research has also examined the relationships between teachers’ subject matter knowledge and their competence. Four sets of researchers looked at the relationship between tests of teachers’ subject matter knowledge and student achievement: Bassham (1962), Rothman (1969), Begle (1972), and Rowan et al. (1997). Bassham studied the relationship between teachers’ performance on a Test of Basic Mathematical Understandings and students’ mathematics gains on pre-and posttests over the course of a year. This researcher found a significant relationship between teachers’ and students’ scores only for students of above-average achievement. Rothman (1969) reported a significant positive relationship between teachers’ and student’ performance on some measures of science and physics knowledge. Begle found different relationships from year to year and class to class between teacher scores on the algebra inventory test and student achievement. Rowan et al. reported a positive and significant relationship between students’ performance on the 1998 National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS) math achievement test and their teachers’ responses to a one-item measure of mathematics knowledge on the NELS teacher questionnaire.
Five studies examined the relationship between teacher pedagogical knowl-