A No Vote For The National Board
When it decided in July that teachers should not be denied national certification solely because they did not graduate from an education school, the newly formed National Board for Professional Teaching Standards knew it was inviting opposition from some quarters.
Not surprisingly, that opposition has now been formally expressed by the organization that represents more than 700 colleges and universities that train teachers.
The directors of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education voted unanimously earlier this fall not to support the standards board, and urged it to reconsider its prerequisites for certification. The board has said that any teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and has successfully taught for three years at one or more elementary or secondary schools will be eligible for certification.
A statement released by John Goodlad, president of AACTE, expressed the fear that "the national board's approach to assure quality will lower the very quality the board seeks to elevate.''
The board claims it wants national certification to complement existing standards and quality controls, "but in fact the board has proposed bypassing current program approval, licensure, and accreditation procedures,'' the AACTE statement charges.
Says James Kelly, president of the national board: "AACTE has been the only organization, as such, that has expressed reservations about the board, from among our hundreds of constituents.
"The board believes that its policy framework is sound,'' he adds. "The board believes that its prerequisite requiring three years of experience for any candidate for board certification represents an acknowledgment of the importance of proper preparation and early experience.''
In establishing its prerequisites for certification, the 63-member board said that requiring graduation from an accredited teacher-education program would be "controversial and difficult to legitimize.'' The problem, the board stated, is that such a requirement would exclude many otherwise qualified private school teachers who have never had formal teacher training.
Moreover, the board noted, such a requirement would raise the issue of what constitutes valid National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, it argues, would have eliminated from consideration the many graduates of education schools not approved by NCATE. "That is unfortunate,'' he says, "because I think that the two working in concert could strengthen each other.
"The national board, in holding itself out from the existing establishment and its procedures, is remaining agnostic with respect to whether teaching is, in fact, a knowledge-based profession. In the established professions, the way that you acquire knowledge is through formal study in professional schools.''
The national board plans to develop a set of complex assessments it hopes will measure accomplished teaching. It intends to begin offering certification in 29 fields by 1993.