Classroom skills strong factor in national teacher exam

According to a national study, a teacher’s ability to pass the national certification exam is strongly related to classroom performance.

Results from the Accomplished Teaching Validation Study (This file is in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. Click here to download.) were released in October 2000. The study was the beginning of an effort by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) to determine the relationship between passing the exam and actual teaching skill.

The study was funded by the USDOE and NBPTS, the non-profit, non-partisan group dedicated to establishing high teaching standards.

Researchers looked at results of 65 teachers who took the NBPTS Board Certification exam. Teachers averaged 15 years’ experience and had either bachelor’s or master’s degrees. The study was conducted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Teachers were from Delaware, Washington, D.C., Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia.

Of the study group, 31 passed the exam and 34 failed. (On average, only 45 percent succeed on their first try.) Teachers provided two weeks of lessons plans, then spent 75 classroom hours being observed and interviewed. Seven students were randomly chosen from each teacher’s classroom - three were interviewed and four more had their work examined.

Throughout the study, researchers did not know which teachers passed and which teachers failed the exam.

The nationally certified teachers outperformed their non-certified colleagues in 11 areas. (Areas include knowledge of subject matter, ability to improvise and adapt and lesson planning, etc.) Seventy-four percent of the students taught by certified teachers ranked high in interviews and work submitted. Researchers rated only 29 percent of students taught by non-certified teachers at the high level.

According to Lloyd Bond, co-director of the study, all teachers in the study had good skills. However, the certified teachers excelled in having the qualities that most affected student achievement, he said.

There is still no solid evidence that all certified teachers are better than non-certified teachers, Bond noted. "The real value in certification will be known if and when a similar test is done with certified teachers, teachers who didn’t pass the exam, and those who have not taken it," he said.

Effective December 2000, Oregon has 17 nationally certified teachers (Dec. 1, 2000 Oregonian). Thirty-nine states, including Oregon, offer salary bonuses and financial incentives for certification. The Sweet Home School District in Oregon offers a one-time $10,000 bonus. Oregon’s Eagle Point School District offers a $5,000 permanent increase to base salary and Gresham-Barlow has added national certification to the last column of its salary schedule.

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