Teacher Certification Exams: What Are the Predictors of Success?

Article excerpt

Policy makers in states across the country are taking a hard look at prospective teachers and the colleges that train them. Anyone who seeks permanent certification to teach in elementary or secondary schools in most states is now required to achieve a qualifying score on a set of tests administered by the State Teacher Certification Examination Program. Institutions of Higher Learning must publicize individual results of the passing percentages and must also disclose the passing percentages for the certification tests in comparison to the other Colleges and Universities in the state.

This research investigation was conducted to determine the data that are possible predictors of success on teacher certification exams. To investigate associations between individual academic indicators this researcher conducted correlational and regression analyses. The purpose of these statistical analyses was to establish the relationships among possible predictor variables and indicators of success on the LAST and ATS-W. The study took place in a relatively small urban college in New York that offers an undergraduate teacher education program. The students in this discussion included the total enrollment in student teaching seminar during the spring 2004 semester. Participants were 40 female seniors completing their Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary and Special Education.

**********

The Chairperson arrived at the monthly Education Department meeting and with a sense of reprieve announced, "81% of our graduates passed the LAST and 83% passed the ATS-W. We're still above the 80% cut-off but the Dean really wants us to examine the data. As the saying goes, it's too close for comfort."

As the department members perused the results, comments could be heard throughout the room:

* "How did Kathleen fail? She is one of our strongest student teachers."

* "We had such high expectations for Jessica when she came to us. What happened?"

* "Some of our students with the lowest GPAs passed the exams on their first try!"

Higher Education Accountability

Policy makers in states across the country are taking a hard look at prospective teachers and the colleges that train them. In some instances, they're threatening to crack down on programs that don't make the grade. New York's Board of Regents voted to consider closing teacher-training programs if 80% of their graduates cannot pass certification exams.

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige issued the call to action during remarks at the first annual Teacher Quality Evaluation Conference in 2002. The charge to states was based on a key finding in the first annual report to Congress released on teacher quality nationwide, Meeting the Highly Qualified Teachers Challenge. The report's data show that state certification systems allow into the classroom too many teachers who lack solid subject area knowledge of the curriculum they will teach.

Anyone who seeks permanent certification to teach in elementary or secondary schools in most states is now required to achieve a qualifying score on a set of tests administered by the State Teacher Certification Examination Program. Institutions of Higher Learning must publicize individual results of the passing percentages and must also disclose the passing percentages for the certification tests in comparison to the other Colleges and Universities in the state. Section 207 of Title II requires the annual organization and submission of three reports on teacher preparation and certification--1) Institution of Higher Education to the States; 2) States to the US Secretary of Education; and 3) the Secretary to Congress and the public.

New York State Teacher Certification Examinations

The State Teacher Certification Examinations measure a candidate's knowledge and skills in the liberal arts and sciences (the LAST), in teaching theory and practice (the ATS-W), and in the content area of the candidate's field of certification (the CST). …