Thursday, December 18, 2008

Teacher Certification Requirements -- Racist?

Matthew Ladner points out that teacher certification requirements make almost no difference in teacher performance -- about half of uncertified teachers improve their students' learning, and about half of certified teachers have students who get worse. Ladner then points to an Education Next piece arguing that on a nationwide basis, states that allow alternative certification are more likely to allow minorities into the teacher workforce.

To which I'd add: Dan Goldhaber (one of the nation's most prominent researchers on teacher qualifications) and Michael Hansen have a recent article making the same point in a more rigorous manner. To quote the abstract:
[U]sing a dataset of public school teachers and their students in North Carolina spanning ten years, we find both black teachers and male teachers have substantively lower performance on these licensure tests but have few differences in classroom performance. . . . This analysis suggests that black students, in particular, benefit from having a black teacher. These positive mentoring effects are benefits that may be lost if the state were to pursue policies that strictly enforce licensure cutoffs.
And to quote from the article itself:
[W]hen teaching black students, black teachers in the lower end of the teacher test distribution are estimated to perform at approximately the same level as white teachers at the upper end of the distribution. High-performing black teachers are estimated to perform higher still, though this difference (among black teachers) is insignificant. . . .

In summary, we find evidence suggesting the uniform application of licensure standards for all teachers is likely to have differential impacts on the achievement of white and minority students. Specifically, we see that the lowest performers among black teachers enjoy the greatest mentoring effects when teaching black students; and, these mentoring effects to black students are comparable to having the highest-performing white teachers in the classroom. Removing the lowest of performers on the exam would necessarily remove some of the more-effective teachers for this segment of the student population.


Blogger Elmo the Entrepreneur said...

Here is my tale.

I was in the US Army Band for 15 years as a professional trombonist. I performed worldwide, starting various groups, conducting seminars with high school students, performing for dignitaries to include presidents. I went to college after my tenure in the military and received my BA in Music Education. However, I took the Praxis tests required by the state of Virginia and missed the math score by 2 points. I passed all of the other tests for certification with flying colors. Turns out that all sorts of people couldn't pass the math test either. The local newspaper in Lynchburg ran a series of articles on these tests. It turns out that a retired Major General couldn't pass the test either. I also knew a woman with a Master's degree that couldn't pass it too.

I guess despite my extensive musical background and the fact that I graduated with the highest instrumental scores in my class at the military's school of music wasn't good enough for the genius state of Virginia. By the way, when I left there, the local paper ran a series of articles on how the state had to hire full time substitutes to teach. No duh.

I took my Praxis scores to the State of Kentucky where the scores were lower and I got a job at a school that was so hard up for a teacher the principal drove 45 minutes to interview me. Yeah, you read that right. When I got to the school the official placed me into another program that I had to complete in my first year of teaching called Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP) I completed my first year at that school which was sheer hell. I knew there was a problem when the principal drove all that way to interview me. Located way out in the sticks I as faced with teen pregnancies, breaking up fights (mostly girls) and students that did not hesitate to tell me to F*** off whenever they felt like it.

However, the county that I worked for never submitted the KTIP observations (a large project requiring teachers to come all the way from Louisville to watch me as well as a teacher from the school) so I never received any certification. As a result, I took on a job at a private school in Lexington.

It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. I now teach in paradise. My classes have about 20 students each and I am treated with respect and dignity. These kids are so nice to me and I am able to not only be their teacher but I can honestly be their friend. We have a tough curriculum and our students are held accountable as we teach them academics as well as responsibility, manners and morals. I would do anything for these kids because we respect each other.

In my opinion, it was my gain and the system's loss. I am currently getting my Master's degree in Education Technology and I am able to transfer all of these skills into our school which has been able to invest in technology. We have a blast in this school and the students as well as the parents ( along with the observations by our staff) have been very positive.

So, as I said before, it is the state's loss and not mine. I guess the the leadership needs to take a test on common sense.


8:57 PM  

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