Cover Image

PAPERBACK
$44.00



View/Hide Left Panel

III
POLICY ISSUES

Part III addresses policy issues in teacher supply, demand, and quality. The focus is on issues entailed in forming effective federal and state policies designed to ensure a sufficient supply of teachers who are fully qualified in their primary teaching assignment. The main purpose for addressing such policy issues is to identify specific data and research needed to provide a useful empirical base supportive of effective policy making in the future.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. III POLICY ISSUES Part III addresses policy issues in teacher supply, demand, and quality. The focus is on issues entailed in forming effective federal and state policies designed to ensure a sufficient supply of teachers who are fully qualified in their primary teaching assignment. The main purpose for addressing such policy issues is to identify specific data and research needed to provide a useful empirical base supportive of effective policy making in the future.

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. This page in the original is blank.

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. The Problem of Improving Teacher Quality While Balancing Supply and Demand MARY M. KENNEDY INTRODUCTION At the same time improvements in education contribute to improvements in the social and economic well-being of the country, these social and economic improvements place further demands on the education system. Consequently, the history of education is in part a history of continuing efforts to improve both the quantity and quality of education provided to American youth. The reform effort we face today could be interpreted as one further step in this continuing effort. Yet, while similar to previous reform efforts in its broad purposes, this reform also carries its own unique features, and these need to be taken into account. The problem of supply and demand of qualified teachers, for instance, is one that regularly confronts U.S. policy makers, but it takes on a special cast in the current reform in two different ways. First, the concerns about supply that we face today are not a function of an increase in the number of students we want to serve, as has often been the case in the past, but instead are a function of changes in the attractiveness of a teaching career relative to other careers. Moreover, problems of supply are uneven. In some regions and some subject areas, we have an oversupply, while in other regions and other subjects, we face an undersupply. Second, the problem of teacher quality is not one of increasing the required credential, as has often been the case in the past. Virtually all teachers now hold a bachelor's degree, and a great majority hold a master's degree as well. Yet we are still not satisfied with the quality of classroom teaching practices.

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. Before examining policy strategies of the current reform, I want to examine each of these unique problems. The Contemporary Version of Teacher Supply and Demand With the exception of the past two or three decades, education has almost always faced a problem of teacher shortages, in large part because the population of students needing an education was continually growing. Shortages in the past have largely been filled by women and minorities who had few other career opportunities (Sedlak and Schlossman, 1986). However, the past two decades have seen an increase in the career opportunities for these populations that have traditionally filled teaching positions. Thus, the supply problem we now face derives more from competition from other professions than it does from an increase in the actual number of teachers needed. This fact has led policy makers and scholars to attend more than they have in the past to such issues as the attractiveness of the profession as a whole, the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards of teaching, and the quality of teachers' working conditions. At the same time, there has been an increase in the amount and quality of data available to assist in policy formulation. Longitudinal data bases have increased our understanding of the career paths of teachers, giving us more information about the length of time teachers tend to stay in teaching positions and more information about the source of new teachers. We now know, for instance, that many people who are prepared to teach never enter the profession, that many of those who do teach leave the profession after only a few years, and that only about 25 to 30 percent of leavers are likely to return after a career interruption. These returning teachers are often referred to as a reserve pool of teacher supply that augments the pool of new college graduates available for teaching. And we know that attrition rates are higher in chemistry and physics than in other subject areas (Murnane et al., 1988, 1989). Finally, we know that the reasons for leaving are often not the reasons presumed by policy makers. For instance, even though young women are more likely to leave than other groups, they are not necessarily leaving to rear children, and they are not necessarily leaving schools that are considered to present more difficult teaching assignments (Heyns, 1988). Most important, we now know that the most important predictor of teacher demand is teacher attrition (Haggstrom et al., 1988), and that the most unknown factor in predicting teacher supply is the size and character of the reserve pool (Gilford and Tenenbaum, 1990). Since schools have a fixed clientele and must provide services to all those who are eligible for them, they must necessarily fill every classroom position with someone. Before teacher unions began negotiating class size, school districts often adjusted their services by expanding class sizes. As

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. this strategy becomes less feasible, districts have resorted to other options, in particular assigning teachers to subjects they are not certified to teach or hiring new teachers who do not have the formal credentials required. States tacitly approve of these strategies by granting emergency credentials for these teachers. Thus, even though most states have steadily increased their requirements for teaching credentials, they have, at the same time, continually permitted teachers who do not have the requisite credentials to enter the profession through the back door, so to speak. These practices have become criticized recently, both because they threaten the quality of classroom practices and because they diminish the status of the profession as a whole. Finally, much of the evidence currently available regarding teacher supply and demand suggests that the issue is not a universal one, but instead the ratio of supply to demand varies by school, subject matter, and grade level. That is, urban schools have more difficulty filling positions than suburban schools do, secondary schools have more difficulty filling physics positions than math positions, and so forth. That such patterns exist suggests that perhaps projections of teacher supply and demand would be more fruitful if they included particular school and job characteristics in their models. The Contemporary Version of High-Quality Classroom Practice Contemporary reform demands also differ from past demands in that they are based more heavily on empirical examinations of teaching and the outcomes of teaching than they have been in the past. Findings of recent research have contributed heavily to contemporary dissatisfaction with classroom practice and have seriously complicated the problem of maintaining an adequate supply of teachers. Let us review some of the evidence. First, national assessments in virtually every subject indicate that, although U.S. students can perform basic skills pretty well, they are not doing well on thinking and reasoning. U.S. students can compute but they cannot reason through complex mathematical problems (McKnight et al., 1987). They can write complete and correct sentences but cannot prepare arguments (Applebee et al., 1990). They cannot reason through scientific problems very well (International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, 1988). Moreover, in international comparisons, U.S. students are falling behind not only students in European countries, but also those in many Third World countries as well, particularly in those areas that require higher-order thinking, problem solving, or conceptual work. The second research finding gives us a clue as to why we have the first: textbooks in this country typically give no attention to big ideas, offer no analysis, and pose no challenging questions. Instead, they provide a tre-

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. mendous array of information or "factlets" and pose questions that require nothing more than the ability to recite back the same empty list of facts. In fact, our textbooks often don't even provide much in the way of organization or coherence for these facts (Tyson and Woodward, 1989). So whatever real understanding students get about the subjects, whatever intellectual challenge they get, must come from their teachers. The third finding from research is that most teachers teach content only for exposure, not for understanding (Porter, 1989). That is, their aim is not to ensure that students really understand the concepts they present, but rather only that they have been exposed to them. And the fourth finding is that teachers tend to avoid thought-provoking work and activities and stick to predictable routines. Why? Because students are easier to manage, and student outcomes easier to control, when the tasks are routine (Doyle, 1983, 1986; Doyle and Carter, 1984). So if we were to describe our current K-12 education system, we would have to say it provides very little intellectually stimulating work for students and that it produces students who are not capable of intellectual work. These problems are not, of course, all due to bad teaching. I have already pointed out that U.S. textbooks often don't provide intellectually defensible material, and I should add now that many features of school organization and school policy can yield these results as well. Still, these findings about what happens in U.S. classrooms help explain the findings from national and international assessments, and they demonstrate why policy makers care about the quality of classroom teaching practices. Yet classroom practice is highly influenced by teachers' a priori ideas about what counts as good teaching. Teachers acquire seemingly indelible imprints of teaching from their own experiences as students, and these imprints are tremendously difficult to shake. The dominant impulse in any new teacher is to imitate the behaviors of his or her own former teachers. And this impulse will remain strong unless teachers are offered an equally strong and compelling alternative approach to teaching and are provided with a great deal of help learning to adopt this new approach. And this is the fifth relevant finding from research: people who teach are highly likely to teach in the way they themselves were taught (Haberman, 1985; Lortie, 1975; Nemser, 1983). All of us, whether we choose to enter teaching or not, learn about teaching throughout our lives. From kindergarten through twelfth grade, we observe teachers. Those of us who go on to college observe even more teachers, and these teachers are not necessarily any better or different that those we observed when we were younger (McDiarmid, 1990). By the time we receive our bachelor's degree, we have observed teachers for over 3,000 days. For those of us who choose to enter teaching, the pervasiveness of this "apprenticeship of observation," both across grade levels and across subject areas, coupled with the sheer volume of time spent

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. observing, yields a deeply entrenched and tacit set of beliefs about what can and should happen in schools: about the nature of intellectual work and the nature of school subjects, about the teachers' role in facilitating learning, and about the pedagogical implications of student diversity. So, for instance, if your elementary school teacher presented mathematics to you as a set of procedural rules with no substantive rationale, you are likely to think that this is what mathematics is and that this is how mathematics should be studied. And you are likely to teach it this way. If you studied writing as a set of grammar rules rather than as a way to organize your thoughts and to communicate ideas to others, then this is what you will think writing is and this is how you will think it should be taught and learned. Moreover, these beliefs are highly likely to be accompanied by an emotional commitment. People who choose teaching as a career not only have ingrained beliefs about what the enterprise is all about, but also have chosen it as a career precisely because this is what it is all about. They are not committed to the enterprise in the abstract; they are committed to it as they understand it. POLICY EFFORTS TO IMPROVE THE SUPPLY OF QUALITY TEACHERS The special problem facing contemporary policy makers is that of, at one and the same time, increasing the supply of teachers available and improving the quality of their classroom teaching practices. Certain features of the teaching population bear notice when considering either supply and demand or quality. One is that the teaching force in the public sector consists of some 2.3 million teachers. Any efforts to improve the quality of this large teaching force will be labor-intensive and therefore expensive. Second, some 15 percent of U.S. adults now have at least a baccalaureate degree, as do almost all teachers. And some 20 percent of all baccalaureate degree holders received their degrees in education, even though less than half of those who received such degrees are currently teaching (National Center for Education Statistics, 1989). Moreover, the number of college-educated adults is rising, so that the fraction is much higher among younger adults who are likely to be enrolling children in schools in the next decade or two. The size of the college-educated population has two implications for policy makers concerned about balancing supply and demand and improving quality. First, as consumers of education, these segments of population—bachelor's degrees in general or education degrees in particular—form an increasing fraction of education's clientele. And clients of education have more direct knowledge of teachers' practices than clients of other

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. professions have. Parents see their children's homework and often visit classrooms and they form judgments about quality from these observations. To the extent that their own education levels lead them to hold greater expectations for quality in teaching, or greater demands for teaching of the subjects they studied in college, we can expect public demands for improvements in teacher quality to continue or to increase over time, rather than to subside. Indeed, we expect that questions about the quality of teaching will necessarily continue to exist, given the educational levels of parents and given their direct knowledge of their children's teachers. A second implication of these facts is that this entire population constitutes a potential reserve pool that could be recruited into teaching. Indeed, the current teaching force represents only 43 percent of the those who received degrees in education, and only 10 percent of those who have received degrees in all fields. If one assumes that even those who did not receive degrees in education could still teach, the reserve pool expands to include over 25 million adults. Since actual teaching practices cannot be efficiently monitored, policy makers tend to work toward improving the supply of other aspects of teachers or teaching that are presumed to lead to improvements in practice. For purposes of this discussion I would like to distinguish five dimensions of quality that form the basis of most policy activities. The first two dimensions, quality of credential and tested ability , refer to characteristics of individual teachers: policy makers want to ensure that those who enter teaching hold credentials that are appropriate to their task, that they have acquired the subject matter knowledge and pedagogical training needed, or that they have some minimal level of intellectual ability deemed appropriate for teaching. The third dimension, quality of demographic representation , refers to the mix of teachers working in individual schools: policy makers want a population of teachers that roughly matches the racial and ethnic backgrounds represented in the student body. And as the composition of the student body changes, the demand for different types of teachers will also change. The fourth and fifth dimensions refer to the character of practices that occur within individual schools. The fourth dimension, quality of professionalism in schools, refers to the extent to which teachers are given real responsibility for their work and the extent to which they are able to make sound professional decisions in their work.1 Many policy makers want to change the character of teaching practice so that teachers have the kind of independent responsibility for managing their work that other professionals have, believing either that sound educational practices cannot be dictated from afar or that teaching will be a more attractive line of work if teachers have more professional autonomy. Finally, the fifth dimension is the quality of classroom teaching practice: even if policy makers find ways to bring people into teaching who have the proper credentials, the right demo-

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. graphic characteristics, and higher tested ability, they need assurance that the actual classroom teaching practices of these teachers matches some level of acceptable practice. Although nearly all policy makers recognize nearly all of these dimensions of quality, many assume the fifth dimension will be solved automatically by solving one or a combination of the first four. Indeed, much of the current policy debate in the area of teacher supply and demand has to do with which of the first four dimensions of quality is most likely to ensure the fifth. This is not to say, however, that the fifth dimension is the only one that matters. Arguments have been made for the independent value of most of the other dimensions, even if they do not necessarily yield improvements in classroom practice. The ethnic mix of teachers, for instance, may have positive benefits on both student motivation and learning that will not be easily discerned from observations of teachers' classroom practices, and changes in the professionalism of teaching may alter teachers' regard for their work in ways that influence both their retention in the job and the tacit messages they communicate to students about the importance of school and of learning to a variety of life's endeavors. The problem for policy makers is one of sorting out these several dimensions and recognizing each as a separate issue that warrants its own attention. In this paper, I argue that these several dimensions of quality are not the same, and that improving quality on any one dimension will not necessarily improve quality on any of the others. The argument has two implications for policy. First, we cannot assume that we can improve classroom practice, the dimension of most importance to most policy makers, simply by improving any of the other dimensions. And second, to the extent that policy makers wish to alter any of the other dimensions of quality, they need to address them separately. The remainder of this paper is divided into five sections, one addressing each of these five dimensions of quality. In each main section, I address three questions: how important this dimension of quality is to contemporary education policy, what policy activities are currently under way or under consideration to increase supply and quality within this dimension, and what are the measurement and data collection implications of these issues and activities for generating useful policy information about supply and demand within this dimension of quality. SUPPLY OF QUALITY CREDENTIALS Much of the contemporary work on measuring teacher supply and demand defines quality in terms of the teachers' credentials. That is, a teacher is qualified to teach if he or she is certified in the area in which he or she is teaching. So if, for instance, a history major is certified to teach history

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. and political science, but not sociology, that teacher is considered qualified when teaching history or political science but not when teaching sociology. If such a teacher is found teaching all three of these subjects—a likely event in a small high school—it is difficult to know whether to count the teacher as qualified or not. The confusing array of assignments, misassignments, and joint assignments, combined with the variety of combinations of certification offered by different states and taken by different teachers, make it extremely difficult to define the supply or the demand of credential-qualified teachers. How Important are Credentials? One argument for emphasizing teaching credentials has to do with their symbolic function. If teachers are to maintain a professional standing, there should be some indication that they are entitled to teach, and formal credentials can play an important role in entitling teachers as professionals. Yet the empirical evidence of a relationship between formal credentials and student achievement is remarkably weak. Several aspects of teachers' formal education have been presumed important indicators of teacher quality. Three popular measures are: (a) whether the teacher is formally credentialed to teach the subject or grade being taught, (b) whether the teacher majored in the subject being taught, and (c) whether the teacher has taken courses beyond the bachelor's degree. Researchers who have tried to connect these measures of teachers' education and certification to gains in student achievement have been unable to find any clear or meaningful relationship (Gilford and Tenenbaum, 1990; Hanushek, 1986). Particularly discouraging is research on teachers' subject matter majors, which has found very little relationship between subject matter major and teaching ability (e.g., Begle and Geeslin, 1972). Even college majors who have reasonably high grade points in their majors are often unable to explain important concepts from their disciplines or to illustrate them accurately (see, eg., Ball, 1990). The lack of convincing evidence has motivated Richard Murnane and others (Murnane et al., 1991) to argue for abandoning state program requirements that guide teachers' credentials, so that the field can experiment with a wider array of ideas for preparing teachers to teach. If there is no evidence that these program requirements yield better teachers, these authors argue, there is no reason to constrain teacher education programs. On the other hand, the lack of association between credentials and student achievement gains may be an artifact of the wide range of educational backgrounds that can lead to a credential. Since each state defines its own credentialing system, the possession of a credential can mean that a teacher has either a bachelor's or a master's degree, depending on the state; that a

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. teacher has taken an exam or not, depending on the state; that a teacher has participated in an induction program or not; that the teacher's classroom practices have been assessed or not; that the teacher has majored in an academic subject or not; or that a teacher has participated in a university-based preservice program or an alternative route. Given this variation, it should not be surprising that the presence of a credential per se does not correlate strongly with measures of student achievement growth. Policy Activity in This Area Typically, a formal credential means that a teacher has received both the requisite courses in teacher education and the requisite courses from the arts and sciences departments. Some colleges and universities—notably those that are members of Project 30—are working on courses that combine these two sides of teacher knowledge into integrated courses. However, the structure of most colleges and universities is such that these two sides of teachers' formal course work exist in a zero-sum relationship, such that additional courses in pedagogy are perceived to mean fewer courses in the subject areas. This means that, when policy makers want to improve the quality of the initial credential, they must choose which kind of courses they want to increase and which they will decrease. The current trend is to reduce the emphasis on pedagogy courses and to increase the emphasis on subject matter courses, although policy makers and others are far from agreeing on what the exact nature of these subject matter courses should be, particularly at the elementary school level. Three states—Virginia, Texas, and New Jersey—have recently made such changes in their teacher education requirements. In addition, the Southern Regional Educational Board has recommended that Southern states try to reduce the number of credits teacher candidates take in their professional sequence. These policies, however, manipulate only the supply of new graduates who might enter teaching. They do not address the large reserve pool of teachers, from whom many new hires are drawn. I should mention here, as an aside, that most states also have a mechanism for recognizing credentials from other states. That is, if a teacher moves from state A to state B, the teacher can apply to the state to have his or her original credential recognized. Though many states have such procedures in place, the criteria used to accept credentials from other states are often not synchronized with current policies for new graduates. In addition, states rarely keep track of the number of applicants for out-of-state credential recognition, nor do they know how many such applicants have been turned away. These immigrant teachers themselves could constitute a substantial reserve pool of teachers if their credentials were accepted. Moreover, despite policy makers' espoused

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. teachers' preparation and behavior. As such, they are not neutral instruments for measuring change in teacher quality in general. Ultimately, we need both kinds of assessments of teacher quality—ones that seek to change behavior and instill quality practice, and ones that seek to measure the system's progress in improving quality. REFERENCES The Holmes Group 1991 Toward a Community of Learning: The Preparation and Continuing Education of Teachers. The Holmes Group Occasional Paper No. 5. East Lansing, Michigan: The Holmes Group. Leake, Donald O. 1990 Averting a lifetime of segregation. Education Week 10(13):20. National Council on Education Standards and Testing 1992 Raising Standards for American Education. A report to Congress, the Secretary of Education, the National Education Goals Panel, and the American People. Washington, D.C.: The National Council on Education Standards and Testing . National Education Statistics Agenda Committee 1990 A Guide to Improving the National Education Data System. A report by the National Education Statistics Agenda Committee of the National Forum on Educational Statistics. Southern Education Foundation 1990 Finding more black male teachers for America's classrooms. Pipeline 1 (spring/summer):7. Stevens, Leonard B. 1990 'Separate but equal' has no place. Education Week 10(9):32. U.S. Congress 1992a Higher education amendments of 1991 (S. 1150). Congressional Record February 26:S2397-S2415. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1992b Higher education amendments of 1992 (H.R. 3553). Congressional Record March 26:H1916-H1931. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources 1990a National Teacher Act of 1990. Report 101-360 to Accompany S. 1676. 101st Congress, 2nd Session. July 10. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1990b Teacher excellence: Recruitment and training. Pp. 474–501 in Senate Hearing 101-824. 101st Congress, 2nd session. Washington. D.C. : U.S. Government Printing Office. NOTE 1.   This section was added at the time the proceedings went to press to provide a current picture of proposed legislation related to teachers.

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. Discussion ARTHUR E. WISE I will take a slightly different perspective on teacher quality, or maybe even a radically different perspective; I leave that for you to judge. I read the Kennedy analysis with considerable interest. Certainly she identified the significant dimensions of teacher quality about which we need to be concerned; I think her treatment of them is excellent. But in thinking about these dimensions one at a time, I was puzzled about why it is necessary to go down this path when talking about teachers, when in fact we go down a quite different path when we talk about other professionals, i.e., doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, accountants, and perhaps nurses. It became clear to me that the definition of a teacher is everything. That is, our culture has no difficulty counting lawyers, doctors, architects, nurses, and engineers. The fact of the matter is that we allow these professions to determine who will be counted. The job of the government is then relatively easy. It simply has to count the number of people who meet the definition that the profession has set. So when we count doctors, we count an artifact or construct. What is our construct of a doctor? Among other things, a doctor is the product of a process of education and assessment that results ultimately in the designation of an individual as a doctor. In fact, the medical profession itself creates the minimum standards for awarding the title of doctor. It means, among other things, that a person has completed successfully four years of college, indicating some approximate facts (crude, to be sure) about that individual, i.e., that he or she has successfully completed a four-year liberal arts program having certain characteristics. He or she persisted through that program, learned some material, was graded 120 times in the course of

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. the four-year experience, and so on. The individual applied to a medical school, an accredited medical school, in fact. Thus, the issue of school accreditation is part of the process of quality determination in other professions. Once admitted to a professional medical school, the doctor candidate must successfully negotiate his or her way through it. Along the way, the candidate must pass a series of examinations, one on basic medical science, one on clinical medical science, and ultimately one on the ability to apply clinical knowledge to practical settings, a step that is not allowed until the person has completed a year of practical experience under supervision—what used to be called the internship but is increasingly called the first year of residency. So we know what a doctor is. It has been defined for us by the medical profession. It is the result of an educational process associated with a licensing process that applies to the individual and an accreditation process that applies to the school through which the individual has gone. To a greater or lesser degree, the same can be said of the other professions mentioned earlier. The point is simply this—our ability to count professionals nationally in a number of professions other than teaching is based on our acceptance of a set of constructs of what a member of each profession is. Since such a definition of the teaching profession is not yet widely accepted, we are plagued with a variety of problems. The anomalous situation in education is that some people become teachers by completing accredited teacher education programs: others attend programs that are not accredited. Some have been through a testing process; others have not. Some have had their teaching assessed in their first year. Most teachers hired in a state have been through whatever the state has prescribed as the process for determining whether a person qualifies as a teacher. This is so unless the state cannot find enough people who have been through that process, in which case whoever was interviewed on Labor Day, administered the breath test, hired by a school district, and made a member of the relevant labor union is now also regarded as a teacher, basically indistinguishable from the former in function. I believe that we will never get out of the conundrum of defining a teacher until we have a teacher education accreditation and teacher licensing process that specifies the requirements for qualifying as a fully qualified teacher. When we have a real teacher licensing process and a real teacher certification process, we will be able to count the number of people who meet the minimum standards for licensure and the minimum standards for advanced certification. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) will present a defining construct for advanced certification. For example, a

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. board-certified teacher of secondary school mathematics will be a person who meets a set of requirements that the board will ultimately prescribe. I think there is very little else we can do to move beyond where we are right now. Indeed, I think I might differ with my colleagues on this panel by suggesting that we cannot get into classroom practice as a way of judging quality, except insofar as that is incorporated into the initial teacher licensing process or into NBPTS's advanced certification process. Here is an illustration of how classroom practice can be incorporated into the initial teacher licensing process. Before I joined the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, I had the opportunity, along with some of my colleagues at the RAND Corporation, to work with the state of Minnesota in defining for that state the direction in which teacher licensing should move. We laid out a set of expectations in concert with the Minnesota Board of Teaching. It included among other things the notion that a teacher candidate would first graduate from an accredited program of teacher preparation, and that the individual would then take an examination that assessed pedagogical and professional knowledge. While we can discuss the characteristics of that test, it is really not important at this juncture to articulate what they are, except to say that the notion was that the test would really assess the underlying professional and pedagogical knowledge base. The teacher candidate would then have a year-long internship. In the course of that internship, one hopes in something that resembles a professional development school, the individual would be instructed in educational practice and would, in the course of a year or so, have the opportunity both to develop as a practicing teacher and to be assessed as a beginning teacher. In other words, what we did was to call on those who were responsible for the internship program at the local level to make a determination of whether the candidate was now ready to take the final exam. Essentially, this meant that a number of senior personnel in a school district would have had to make a judgment about whether a particular teacher candidate had successfully mastered the minimum teaching skills necessary for licensure. This process of course is fraught with problems of reliability and validity. That is why it is not the final point for entry into the profession. By analogy, the medical internship has exactly the same characteristics associated with it. Human beings must make a more or less subjective judgment that an individual is ready to take the final part of the National Board of Medical Examiners test. That is the only way in my opinion that teaching performance can ever be assessed in a way that allows you to begin to make some national analyses. So at this point, the teacher candidate would take the final exam, which can be characterized as testing intellectual skills—not interactive teaching skill—that a new teacher should be able to demonstrate. That

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. becomes the final exam on which the awarding of a teaching license is based. You do not have to accept the particular licensing system that I just outlined. But we must have some kind of system for licensing teachers. Otherwise, we will not get out of the current conundrum with respect to teacher credentialing. In my opinion, there is no way, other than superficially, that classroom teaching practice can be sampled for purposes of judging teacher quality. Nor is it feasible to carry out the serious, national studies that would be necessary to connect teaching behavior, or teaching performance, with student outcomes very frequently. Perhaps it can be done in a research sense, but doing large-scale national studies would be extremely difficult, unless the scope of educational outcomes examined is so narrow that little of what a teacher does is connected to what students learn—as past studies have regularly demonstrated. I will soon return to this point more specifically. In teaching, we pose for ourselves problems that those in other professions would never dream of. For instance, what research suggested that lawyers need four years of college before they enter law school, or that law school should be a three-year experience rather than a two-year experience or a one-year experience, or that medical schools should be a four-year experience preceded by four years of college? I would like to see the longitudinal studies that demonstrated the connection between those practices and the outcomes that those practitioners secure with their clientele. I dare say that supportive studies cannot be found. Nonetheless, we in education, because we are so trained in empirical methods and are so beleaguered by the policy-making community, fight back with what we have. After-the-fact studies are therefore conducted to examine the relationships between college majors and student outcomes, or the relationships among teacher credentials and student outcomes, knowing full well that when the research rises to a sufficiently high level of abstraction, we really do not know what we are talking about. To suggest, for example, that there is no connection between a teacher's tested knowledge, or a teacher's major, and a teacher's ability to teach; to suggest that there is research that supports such a bald conclusion is preposterous. In fact, it is impossible for me to imagine teaching Russian without having had a major in Russian, some linguistic facility in Russian, or certainly the ability to test out in Russian. Or do we really think that a person can teach physics in the way that it needs to be taught in school today, either to elementary school students or high school students, without knowing physics? The idea that there is no connection between knowledge about physics, knowledge about mathematics, knowledge about Russian, and the ability to teach each of these subjects is just preposterous and an artifact of the peculiar kind of longitudinal research that we are disposed to do in the field of

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. education. It begets a very curious kind of cynicism, because the results of our own studies are used against us by those who are already predisposed to be skeptical of the teacher education community. Having damned such studies, I do want to point out that there is an omission in the Kennedy paper that could easily be rectified. The preponderance of research that assesses the efficacy of teachers who have had teacher education versus those so-called teachers who have not had teacher education is clear. These studies reveal an advantage for those teachers who have had teacher education. A major review of that literature has recently been compiled. The evidence is persuasive. The fact that such findings are not well known in the research community—and even more broadly in education—is surprising to me. This research reveals that teacher education confers an advantage on those who have it in contrast with those who do not (Darling-Hammond, 1991). I return now to the issue of testing because it deserves a few more comments. The testing of teachers that has been done is not great, and it is not well matched to the teacher education curriculum. One of the virtues of other professions, compared with teaching, is that professional education, professional education accreditation, and licensing examinations and procedures are all tied together conceptually, practically, theoretically, and empirically. The same organizations work together to design both the educational program and the licensing program. The teaching profession today is quite imperfect in this regard. For example, it is forced to compare the Scholastic Aptitude Test scores of teachers and nonteachers when the real interest is in the teacher candidate's ability—to use one of Kennedy's examples—to divide fractions or perform other teaching tasks enumerated by Kennedy and her colleagues from the National Center for Research on Teacher Education. The point is not whether some enterprising reporter can get a higher National Teacher Examinations (NTE) score than a teacher education major. The fault there lies entirely with the examination. The more important question is, what is it that a new teacher needs to know, and what is it therefore that we shall properly expect to assess on an examination? So judgments made from past studies of teachers and comparisons with nonteachers are misleading. Involving the profession both in the design of the curriculum and in the assessment system is really very important. Although I am not quite sure of what to make of it, I was recently struck by the results of an examination released by the state of Texas that was administered to teachers who volunteered to take it. It was designed to distinguish those who would be designated as high-level master teachers. Several thousand teachers volunteered to take the test, and ultimately 6 percent passed. The way this outcome was characterized by the Washington

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. Post, and I suspect nationwide, was as follows: there was a test developed for master teachers, and only two or three hundred people measured up. Therefore, the other 2,700 who took the test and failed it are deadbeats, and certainly all those who were afraid to try are also deadbeats. In considering such findings, no one ever stops for a minute to ask about the intellectual integrity of the examination, the extent to which it is appropriately tied to pedagogical and professional knowledge, and the extent to which it appropriately calls on teachers to apply what they know to practical situations. Furthermore, the number of people who will pass any examination is predetermined by those who control it. It can be a 2 percent pass rate, a 6 percent pass rate, or a 50 percent pass rate, and that is decided by actors who may have various agendas to advance. All this is critical because it determines the definition of teacher quality. Teacher quality is whatever those in legitimate authority say it is. For the moment, whoever is in charge of the Texas system is defining quality teaching in Texas. We need to be mindful of the fact that there is wide and ready acceptance of whatever it is that those in power decide. The Texas authorities define teacher quality for the state of Texas, just as NBPTS ultimately will define high levels of teaching competence. With no alternative, the public will be forced to accept this definition of teaching competence. What we all need to learn from this is that unnecessary trouble will be created if we do not understand these issues and if we do not try to learn from the established professions. Understanding teacher quality, as well as teacher supply and demand, is critical. One of the reasons is that teacher quality is maldistributed today and will, in all probability, continue to be maldistributed until minimum teacher competence or minimum teacher credentialing can be defined accurately. We know where those who are not qualified actually teach. By and large, the largest groups of them are to be found in New York City, Los Angeles, and Houston. Those are the places that hire the largest numbers of people who are not certified through the traditional process. Furthermore, we know that unqualified teachers are not randomly assigned within cities. Instead, they are typically assigned to schools where parents are least likely to notice that their child is being taught by somebody who is not qualified. Therefore, getting a fix on teacher quality is extraordinarily important because it will then allow us to track the distribution of teacher talent and ultimately to adopt policies that will help foster equal educational opportunity. REFERENCE Darling-Hammond, Linda 1991 Are our teachers ready to teach? Teacher education results in better student learning. NCATE Quality Teaching 1(1):6-7, 10.

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. General Discussion The general discussion covered the following topics: (a) dimensions of teacher quality; (b) licensure as an indicator of teacher quality; (c) modeling the teacher quality-quantity tradeoff; (d) variability of teacher quality; and (e) data gathering of teacher qualifications. These are summarized in the paragraphs that follow. Since facets of the concept of teacher quality, in relation to teacher supply and demand, was the central topic in the Kennedy paper and subsequent discussions, much of the general discussion addressed the meaning and significance of the concept of quality in this context. There was considerable agreement that quality is multidimensional and difficult to specify. In this regard, one participant quoted from Robert M. Peirsig's book titled Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as follows: ''Quality. You know what it is, yet you don't know what it is. That's self contradictory, but some things are better than others. That is, they have more quality. When you try to say what quality is apart from the things that have it, it all goes poof. There's nothing to talk about. If you can't say what quality is, how do you know what it is or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn't exist at all.'' One approach to dealing with the elusive concept of teaching quality, broadly conceived, is to specify its dimensions (as Kennedy did), each of which will be more concrete and therefore amenable to measurement and empirical research. The main dimensions raised in the general discussion (closely paralleling those of Kennedy) were (a) teacher characteristics, such as training, tested ability, and race; (b) the teaching environment, such as the degree to which the teaching role is professionalized; and (c) teaching practices in the classroom.

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. While it was asserted that the relationship of all these dimensions of quality should be explored further, it was noted that past research has found little relationship between measures of teacher characteristics, professionalism, and practices on one hand, and student performance outcomes on the other. However, at least for some of these dimensions, such as teacher professionalization, the relationship might not be immediate and direct. For example, creating a more professionalized role for teachers might make the profession more attractive to more able teacher candidates and therefore in the long run lead to better student outcomes through the development of a higher-quality teaching force. A second approach to dealing with the concept of quality teaching is to establish substantial and uniform requirements across the nation for teacher licensure, and to restrict teacher hiring to individuals who are fully qualified for the teaching license. At the present time, such requirements vary widely from state to state and are widely disregarded by school districts and states when an insufficient supply of regularly licensed applicants exists for particular teaching positions. Furthermore, school systems and teachers' unions routinely consider all persons hired into teaching positions to be teachers, regardless of their qualifications. Consequently, students in many schools are instructed by teachers lacking formal qualifications. However, a representative of one national teachers' union indicated that if a national licensure system existed, membership would be limited to those who qualify under it. While the solution to the problem of defining a quality teacher could be operationalized as a person qualifying for a teaching license under a rigorous, uniform national system, several concerns were raised. One concern is the likelihood of an insufficient supply of licensed teachers for many teaching positions, particularly those located in schools serving disadvantaged groups of students. Another concern is that qualifying for a license does not ensure success in teaching, and the lack of a license does not ensure failure. For example, an unlicensed individual might perform poorly while teaching in a disadvantaged public school, while the same individual might perform adequately while teaching in an elite private school. Although research was cited that consistently shows an overall advantage (sometimes marginal) for teachers with formal training over those without it, this research should be scrutinized more carefully. While there may be an overall advantage for trained teachers, the distributions of effectiveness of trained and untrained teachers no doubt overlap a great deal—thereby indicating that training is not an overriding factor in determining teacher quality. The third concern involved professional liability of a teacher if a rigorous, uniform teacher licensure system were in place, and if teacher hiring were restricted to licensed individuals. One view was expressed that, indeed, not only the teacher, but also the school district that hires the teacher,

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. could be held liable for unsatisfactory student performance and sued for malpractice, since the education of students is a joint responsibility. The concern raised above about a sufficient supply of qualified teachers for staffing all teaching positions focuses attention on the question of teacher quantity in contrast with the prior discussion of teacher quality. In reality, there is a tradeoff between the quantity and quality of teachers, since many, if not most, school districts experience an insufficient supply of "quality teachers." However, there are no models of supply and demand that address either the quantity-quality or the quality distribution tradeoff problems. If there were such models, it was hypothesized that they would show that the poorer, less advantaged districts would end up with teachers drawn from the lower end of the quality distribution. Also, if rigorous licensure standards were adopted, these disadvantaged districts would end up with fewer teachers than needed to fill open positions. Since the teaching force in the nation is very large (on the order of 2.5 million), the characteristics in such a large population will vary widely. Therefore, regardless of the credentialing system that is in place, the lower end of the quality distribution of this large population also will be a large number. And because the number of teachers from the lower end of the quality distribution is large, they will be very visible, especially to the well-educated adults in our population who hold degrees at approximately the same level as those held by teachers. It was observed that one of the reasons poorly qualified teachers are retained in the profession is that there is no process for winnowing them out, after licensure, as there is in other professions such as law and medicine, in which clients choose which professionals to patronize. In public education, parents are locked into the system and have little opportunity to choose teachers for their children. In conclusion, the view was expressed that it is important for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to collect statistics on teacher qualifications, such as licensure status and certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (when available), and tabulate these data by the types of schools and communities in which they teach. Since it would be prohibitively expensive for NCES to employ independent in-depth measures of teacher qualifications, it will necessarily have to rely on definitions of teacher qualifications set by licensure systems and the profession. Nonetheless, data on the distribution (actually, maldistribution) of teacher credentials, by type of school and community, will reveal serious inequities among school districts in the quality of teachers they can hire. These data will strengthen equity litigation brought by disadvantaged districts and should stimulate efforts to upgrade the quality of the profession further—even though the qualifications recorded will not necessarily be indicative of the quality of teaching practice.

OCR for page 63
Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. This page in the original is blank.