for the technical evaluation of the tests, state agencies should request sufficient technical data and timely delivery of documentation. State agencies should ensure their clear authority to release this information to users and others for the purpose of objectively evaluating the technical quality of the tests, the resulting scores, and the interpretations based on them.

  • States should arrange for independent evaluations of their current tests and teacher licensure systems and make the results of these independent examinations of their systems available for outside review.

  • The committee encourages the federal government and others to conduct research on the extent to which teacher licensure tests distinguish between beginning teachers who are at least minimally competent and those who are not regarding the knowledge and skills the tests are intended to measure. This research should include evidence on a broad range of teacher competencies. Such research is likely to improve the development of teacher licensure tests. Within the limits of privacy law, states should make their raw data available to the research community to facilitate development and validity research on initial teacher licensure tests.

Should Teacher Licensure Tests Be Used to Hold States and Institutions of Higher Education Accountable for the Quality of Teacher Preparation and Licensure?

Holding Programs Accountable

A new federal law called the Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants for States and Partnerships (Title II) was enacted in 1998 to achieve four goals: to improve student achievement; to improve the quality of the current and future teaching force by improving the preparation of prospective teachers and enhancing professional development activities; to hold institutions of higher education accountable for preparing beginning teachers to have the necessary teaching skills and to be highly competent in the academic content areas in which they plan to teach; and to recruit highly qualified individuals, including individuals from other occupations.

Conclusions
  • It is reasonable to hold teacher education institutions accountable for the quality of their teacher preparation programs.

  • By their design and as currently used, initial teacher licensure tests fall short of the intended policy goals for their use as accountability tools and as levers for improving teacher preparation and licensing programs. The public reporting and accountability provisions of Title II may encourage erroneous conclusions about the quality of teacher preparation.



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