National Research Council Study Process

The members of the Committee on Assessment and Teacher Quality represent a broad range of expertise, experience, and perspectives. The committee was composed and procedures were instituted to achieve balance, independence, and protection against bias. Members represent the fields of teaching, teacher education, measurement, licensure, economics, and law.

The committee worked over the course of 20 months to define its scope, review the relevant scientific literature, study testing and licensure program practices, and commission test reviews and papers. The committee issued an interim report in 2000. It then deliberated and worked toward consensus on the conclusions and recommendations presented here. The committee’s work was conducted with the oversight of the Board on Testing and Assessment and the National Academy of Sciences.

Nature of the Evidence

In conducting its work, the committee collected information and data related to policies, practice, and research on initial teacher licensure. It examined the published research literature on teacher quality, teacher testing, and professional licensure; reviewed state and federal policies on licensure testing and teacher licensure; and examined current licensure tests, their uses, and states’ policies on setting passing scores on those tests. The committee also sought data on the quality of current tests, the relationships between test results and teacher competence, and the consequences of current tests and licensure systems. The committee looked at examples of innovative teacher licensure programs in the United States and at licensure in other professions. It gathered information on teacher licensure in Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, and the United Kingdom to fuel its thinking about alternative systems. It reviewed licensure programs in nursing, physical therapy, accounting, social work, engineering, architecture, land surveying, law, and medicine.

The committee sponsored a number of activities, including a workshop on teacher licensure in selected states. It solicited testimony from state policy makers about INTASC and NBPTS efforts, and from staff of the leading test development agencies. The committee interviewed teacher candidates; commissioned papers on evaluation criteria for teacher licensure tests; consulted with and commissioned analyses from experts in measurement, licensure, economics, and law; and commissioned bibliographical reviews on test validity issues in initial teacher licensure and on teacher supply. It also sought technical documentation from test developers and commissioned an evaluation of selected tests by the Oscar and Luella Buros Center for Testing.

Discussion of the state of the evidentiary base on teacher licensure testing provides an important prelude to the chapters that follow. As suggested in the

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