Monday, April 13, 2009

More Nationally Certified Teachers

– But, will it lead to better educated students?

The Fulton Leader reports that two more Kentucky teachers have achieved certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Supposedly, that means these teachers have achieved superior competency in the classroom. But, does it really?

I wrote about this controversial program only a few weeks ago. As pointed out in that Blog, we really don’t know, but there are plenty of challenges to NBPTS certification. I mentioned some in the previous Blog, and more can be found in articles like this.

A listing of some of the reports that raise issues about certification and how its impact has been studied can be found in this Power Point presentation. One of the co-creators of this Power Point, Professor George Cunningham, taught at the University of Louisville until his retirement.

Furthermore, for a short period of time the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported scores for certified versus non-certified teachers. Find my Excel spreadsheet with that data here. In that Excel spreadsheet, I generally found that, averaged across the nation ("National Public" in the tables), the scores for students of certified teachers are about the same as those of teachers who are not certified and are not presently pursuing certification. However, the results for 2002 and 2003 Grade 4 reading generally favor non-certified teachers with a difference large enough to probably be statistically significant (though this has not been rigorously determined at this time).

The research in my Excel spreadsheet was preliminary. I had hoped to continue it with more recent NAEP data, but in an incredibly bad move (perhaps politically motivated by NBPTS embarrassment?), the NAEP stopped reporting scores for certified teachers after 2003.

So, is this multi-million dollar program providing bang for the buck? I still don’t know. Thanks to our now defunct CATS assessments, which never provided data required to answer this question, and thanks to the incredibly bad decision not to continue to collect this data with the NAEP, we still don't have the information needed to find out.

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