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Lack of Pedagogy Courses Said Not To Affect Teachers' Performance

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As several states consider waiving course requirements in education for teacher certification, a new analysis suggests that liberal-arts graduates who teach perform as well or better than their education-school counterparts on a variety of measures.

The analysis was conducted by the Southern Regional Education Board, whose members include 14 states in the South. Commissioned by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the report was written by Lynn Cornett, a researcher with the board.

The study looks at the results of four analyses conducted in Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Two of the analyses compare the scores on teacher-certification tests of certified teachers with those of teachers granted provisional certification because they lack the required education courses.

Evaluations Compared

The other analyses compared two similar groups on the basis of performance evaluations.

The researchers caution that because the data deal only with employed teachers, the findings "do not necessarily indicate how all graduates might perform on teacher-certification tests." They note also that no one has established what relationship--if any--exists between scores on such tests and student achievement and attitudes in the classroom.

In the two studies that compared test scores, the analysis found that "graduates of arts and science programs who had provisional or temporary certification generally outscored teacher-education graduates in tests of general education and professional education, despite the fact that 40 percent of the ... score was weighted for professional education content."

One of the two studies, based on an analysis of scores on the Georgia Teacher Certification Tests, showed greater differences according to the level, rather than the kind, of education a teacher had, with those holding master's degrees scoring higher.

Performances Rated

The two other studies compared the on-the-job performance of teachers with regular certification with that of teachers holding provisional certification.

Again, the analysis showed "few differences" in the classroom performance ratings of the two groups. In the larger of the studies, conducted in North Carolina, the amount of experience that the teachers had did not alter this pattern; among exper-ienced and less experienced teachers alike, whether they held regular certification did not appear to affect their performance rating.

But the analysis also showed that most experienced teachers are rated either satisfactory or above; and even among the first-year teachers, few received a score on the evaluation that would be considered "less than satisfactory."

"The fact that few differences occurred in the North Carolina data in terms of type of certification or level of experience calls into question whether or not the comparison of performance ... really reveals differences in the performance of the teacher," the report notes.--sw

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