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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