States News Roundup
The Tennessee State Board of Education last month delayed, at the request of the state legislature, a decision on whether to use a "professional-skills" test to evaluate candidates for the state's new career-ladder program for teachers.
"The legislature asked us to delay action until they could review ith their education-oversight committee," said C. Brent Poulton, the board's executive director.
The use of the test, which measures teachers' knowledge of pedagogical terminology and theory, has been opposed by the Tennessee Education Association, the largest teachers' union in the state.
However, Mr. Poulton said the board was expected to approve the use of the test at a meeting scheduled for late last week. If the board did not approve the use of the test at the meeting, the entire career-ladder plan would most likely be delayed, he added.
The state education department has proposed using the test, which it developed with assistance from educators, as one of several criteria in the evaluation of applicants for the two top positions in Tennessee's new career-ladder program.
Other criteria will include classroom observation; interviews; a "portfolio review"; and evaluations by peers, students, and supervisors. The test is scheduled to account for approximately one-eighth of an applicant's evaluation score.
Most of the 4,000 Michigan students who took a pilot social-studies test last spring received lower-than-expected scores in the knowledge portion of the state test but achieved high marks in the "value" part of the exam.
However, the decision by the state to measure the attitudes of 4th-, 7th-, and 10th-grade students has stirred up a controversy.
The test was given to 4,111 students in 26 of Michigan's 529 school districts as part of a project to refine a social-studies examination that is to be given statewide beginning in the 1986-87 school year.
Barbara Dumouchelle, a member of the state board of education, said she objected to the values questions because they "are not objective, they're subjective, and it's wrong for some kid to be labeled wrong on an issue because of a different experience or different home background."
John Chapman, a social-studies specialist with the state education department, said some fear that once the test is given statewide, breakdowns of results would show district-by-district attitudes on such subjects as racial and religious tolerance.
Results of the values portion of the tests indicated the following:
About two-thirds of Michigan 4th graders would like a "person of a different skin color" as a friend, and 75 percent think a family should be able to move into any neighborhood without regard to race.
About 90 percent of 7th graders said they would like a person of a different race as a friend, and a similar percentage said that "skin colorel10lshouldn't make any difference on where a family lives."
About 48 percent of 10th-grade students responded similarly.
Among 4th and 7th graders, a greater number of students said they would like to have a friend of a different skin color than said they would like to have that person sit next to them in class. Although 90 percent of 7th graders said they wanted a friend of a different race, only 77 percent said they would want to have a person of a different skin color "sit next to you in school every day."
After July 1, 1986, prospective teachers in Virginia will be required to achieve at least a set minimum score on the National Teacher Examination's Core Battery Tests.
The Virginia Board of Education voted last month to set the minimum test requirements at 649 on the communications-skills section of the nte and at 639 on the professional- and general-knowledge sections.
According to Wyndel Hylton, special assistant for equity in professional development for the Virginia education department, up to 8 per-cent of the prospective teachers in Virginia are expected to fail at least one section of the test the first time they take it. Prospective teachers are allowed to take the exam as many times as they choose.
The rate of failure is based on test research during the past three years to validate the nte for use in Virginia, Mr. Hylton said.
Since 1980, prospective teachers in the state have been required by law to present their scores on the nte prior to certification. The law also required the board to set the minimum standards that go into effect in 1986.
Although the state does not require entrance examinations for state-certified teacher-training programs, the board currently is considering regulations that would require education colleges to administer such exams, Mr. Hylton said.