National Certification Process Planned for Vocational Ed. Teachers
At a time when schools are increasingly hiring uncertified vocational education teachers from business and industry, experienced vocational teachers with formal certification will soon have a new way of proving they're worth their salt.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a privately organized group in Southfield, Mich., plans to launch a national certification process for vocational education teachers at the end of this year. It will accept only applicants who have earned at least a bachelor's degree and have held a state teacher's license and taught for at least three years.
"This test is going to give vocational teachers the ability to show how diverse we are. We not only teach the vocational trade, but we also teach academics," said Mark Pardovich, the teacher-in-residence for vocational education at the Princeton, N.J.-based Educational Testing Service, which is designing the assessment portion of the certification.
The ETS has recruited 476 vocational education teachers to begin piloting tests for the certification this week.
The certification will require teachers to pass an essay test on the content of their field. They'll also need to submit a six-part portfolio that includes videotapes of their teaching, documentation of their accomplishments in the community, and evidence of involvement in professional development.
Vocational education certification will be offered in seven categories: arts and communication; business, marketing, information management, and entrepreneurship; family and consumer sciences; health services; human services; manufacturing and engineering technology; and technology education.
Until now, national certification has been available only for teachers of core academic subjects or in particular developmental areas, such as early-childhood education.
Vocational education officials say the addition of their field to the list probably will not help ease a teaching shortage that has forced many schools to hire uncertified personnel. But it will give vocational educators greater recognition, they say.
"It would have little impact on the shortage. Its main strength is that it does give a nationally recognized credential to the field," said June S. Atkinson, the state head of vocational education in North Carolina. "It can help upgrade the vocational education profession."
Ms. Atkinson added that vocational educators deserve the same opportunities to receive bonuses for national certification as other teachers. Thirteen states and 52 school districts now offer salary supplements for teachers who have earned the certification offered by the national board. California offers a one-time bonus of as much as $10,000.
Twenty-seven states subsidize the $2,000 application fee that each teacher must pay.
As part of the new certification process, a committee of vocational educators wrote standards for the field that will be included in the test. Certification essentially means that teachers are teaching according to those standards, said Paula Shoecraft, a spokeswoman for the national board.
The Association for Career and Technical Education, which changed its name last month from the American Vocational Association, has been involved in the certification process by recommending educators to help draw up standards and provide advice on assessments. The organization will publish a pamphlet about the new program and offer regional workshops in May and July for teachers who wish to apply.
The certification will go a long way "to recognize the fact that vocational education teachers are also outstanding, highly qualified professionals," said Pat Schwallie-Giddis, the assistant executive director for professional development for the ACTE in Alexandria, Va.
Susan Carmon, a senior policy analyst for the National Education Association, said national certification programs have been important for every field in which they've been developed and will be for vocational education as well.
"You've never had national consensus on what accomplished teaching looks like in a field until the national board came to town," she said.
One of the challenges for the designers of the vocational certification will be to keep the standards up to date, said Kimberly A. Green, the executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Vocational Technical Education Consortium.
"Two plus two doesn't change, but computers change, and machining technology and medical technologies change," she said.
Vol. 18, Issue 18, Page 5