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A.T.E. Joins Chorus of Concern Over Eligibility for Certification

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The Association of Teacher Educators has become the third national education group to ask the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to consider revising its policy on who is eligible for national teacher certification.

The group, which includes approximately 4,000 teacher educators in school districts and postsecondary schools, expressed its concerns in a resolution passed during its annual meeting last month in Las Vegas.

While lending overall support to the board's goal of developing a national certificate for teachers who meet high standards, the group said it was concerned about the generally open nature of the process. The board has decided to offer the opportunity to become certified to any teacher with a bachelor's degree and three years of successful teaching experience at one or more primary or secondary schools.

Instead, the association's members said, consideration should be given to going two steps further and tying national certification to graduation from an accredited teacher-preparation program and possession of a state teacher's license.

The group's concerns echo those expressed recently by the National Education Association and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. (See Education Week, Jan. 17, 1990, and Sept. 20, 1989.)

"It should be a signal to the board that they should address these concerns, since so many different groups are saying these are things they need to look at," said Mary Jane Vance, curriculum director for the Rains Independent School District in Texas and chairman of the association's public-relations committee.

Board 'Listening Carefully'

At its October meeting, the nation4al standards board declined to reconsider its prerequisite policy, which had the unanimous backing of the panel's 64 members when adopted.

But James A. Kelly, its president, said the board will probably continue to review the issue as it meets over the coming months. It was scheduled to be on the agenda last weekend when the board met in Miami.

"We do not sense any rising groundswell of opposition to the board,'' Mr. Kelly added. "But we will be listening carefully to the points that have been made."

In its initial policy statement last July, the board noted that requiring state licensure and graduation from a teacher-education program would exclude many talented private- and postsecondary-school teachers from the opportunity to earn some national recognition for what they do.

Shirley Robards, president of the teacher educators' group, said the association took issue with that policy because it seemed to discount the value of state and national mechanisms for certification or accreditation. "If you can bypass the state and go to the national board and vice versa, what is the value of either one?" she said.

The group also expressed concern, in its resolution, that the board has not "worked directly" with teacher educators. But Mr. Kelly pointed out that the association was among "more than four dozen" education groups asked by the board to comment on its policies last year. The vast majority of those groups applauded the board's efforts, he said.

Mr. Kelly also noted that five board members had "devoted their life's work to teacher education."

"We expect the de facto majority of teachers who would come to the board would already have state licensing," he said. "Otherwise, they would not have been able to teach in public schools."

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