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New Criteria Agreed To For Ala. Teacher Training

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Montgomery, Ala.--The Alabama board of education voted last week to use teacher-certification-test results as a basis for identifying teacher-training programs in the state's colleges that could be disapproved upon the recommendation of a special review team.

The resolution calls for programs that remain on a target list for four consecutive years to lose board approval automatically.

Currently, teacher candidates must complete a board-approved education program and pass two teacher-certification tests before they can earn a license to teach. Teachers must pass a test in basic professional studies and a second test in their subject area.

The new board resolution links teacher candidates' performance on the tests to the quality of their teacher-training program.

Special Review Team

The proposal adopted calls for using test results to target programs with high student-failure rates, but would base the board's decision to revoke a program's approved status on the findings of a special review team.

The resolution calls for programs in which fewer than 6 of 10 students passed the tests to be placed on target lists.

Then university officials will have the choice of changing the program or improving it.

The state education department would also send a review team to study the school's program and make recommendations for improvement.

If after four consecutive years on the target list the college was unable to improve the test scores of its graduates, the education board could rescind its approval of the program.

John Tyson Jr., the board member who introduced the measure, said it was changed several times to take college officials' fears into consideration and to remove requirements that may have been unfair. For example, the original proposal required that 70 percent of all examinations administered by a program receive passing grades to retain board approval. That was changed to stipulate that 60 percent of a program's students taking the tests be required to pass in order for a program to retain its board approval.

Mr. Tyson described this as a compromise with black university officials who claim the teacher tests are racially biased.

Another board member said the resolution had been "compromised to the point of its being no good."

"I think the thing is so emasculated that all it's going to do is cause problems and cause paper work," he said.

Mr. Tyson defended the plan by saying the board would be on unsound legal ground if it used only the test as a basis for eliminating college programs. He said other compromises would not weaken the proposal but would encourage black officials to review their programs.

The superintendent is required to compile the target list. The list will be released after students' names are verified with universities and after some programs are disqualified.

For example, a program will be dropped if fewer than 10 students at any one school have taken the tests. Programs will also be dropped if more than half the students taking a test have failed on a statewide basis.

University officials had opposed earlier resolutions because they contained no loophole for small programs, such as those for teachers of the deaf or multi-handicapped, and because they questioned the validity of some of the certification tests.

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