Assessing Teachers for Professional Certification: The First Decade of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards: Volume 11

Cover of Assessing Teachers for Professional Certification: The First Decade of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

Table of contents

(36 chapters)

Edited by

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Pages xiii-xxi
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In 1987, when the NBPTS was established and began its work, there were no advanced teaching standards or performance assessments for teachers and teaching in the US, or, to the best of our knowledge at the time, in any other nation. Schools were being subjected to widespread criticism for allegedly poor academic performance, summarized famously in a government report, “A Nation at Risk”, that was released by the US President Ronald Reagan with great media fanfare in 1985. State governors, CEOs of large corporations, and leaders of teacher unions led in organizing a response, focusing on new standards for what students should learn in school, and placing pressure on schools to produce better student achievement. In the decade that followed, standards for what students should be expected to learn were developed for all subject fields and grade levels. Typically, the standards in the subject-matter fields were developed in almost complete isolation from each other, and much of the work was done within individual states, so a nationally coherent system did not emerge.

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“Certification”, in the context of this book, is an endorsement by a professional body that a member of that profession has attained a specified set of advanced performance standards. Application for NBPTS advanced certification is usually voluntary and available to all members of the profession (who have had to have at least three years experience in the profession). It is based on assessment of performance; it is not an academic qualification, or a record of professional development courses attended. It is portable – it belongs to the person (it is not a job or position or classification specific to a school or employer). A professional certification system is not in itself a performance pay scheme, but it does aim to provide a service to the profession, to the public and to employing authorities seeking a credible basis on which to provide incentives for professional development and recognition to teachers who reach high standards. Most important, it acknowledges that the individual who gains this certification is demonstrably teaching at the highest levels in our profession.

By 2006, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards had offered advanced certification to 50,000 accomplished teachers using performance-based assessments of their teaching knowledge and practice (about 2% of the US teaching force). However, the Board has had much greater impact than the initial numbers of certified teachers suggested. As the first professional effort to define accomplished teaching, it has also had an enormous influence on standard-setting for beginning teacher licensing, teacher education programs, teacher assessment, on-the-job evaluation, and professional development for teachers throughout the United States. This chapter describes some of the results of the Board's work, evaluates its impact, and discusses issues that it raises for the future of teaching and the nature of the teaching career.

To appreciate the distance the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification program has come, and the speed with which it has traveled that distance, a glance at its first decade from the perspective of assessment development is essential. The particulars of the history of the NBPTS's assessment strategies and designs have determined in many ways the current assessment architecture: the evolution of the assessment's design reveals the growth in our knowledge of innovative assessment strategies and formats and their uses. In this chapter, I will briefly summarize the history of the NBPTS assessment program, then describe and analyze the earliest assessment designs, some intermediate approaches, and then the current iteration (commonly referred to as the next generation certificates). I will finally detail the current assessment architecture, connecting that architecture to both the history and the lessons learned from the initial assessments.

This chapter outlines and applies criteria for evaluating the validity of the process for establishing standards that identify what accomplished teachers in a given field should know and do. The argument defended in this chapter is that when individuals use tests and assessments for various purposes, they need to be concerned not only with the distributive validity issues relating to the adequacy of content or consequences of the assessment. They also need to evaluate the validity of the procedures used to specify the content domains that lead ultimately to decisions recommended as part of the test instrument. The procedural and the distributive fairness of tests both need to be considered when deciding on the validity of tests and assessments.

This chapter outlines some of the challenges in assessing teachers’ subject-matter knowledge. After reviewing traditional ways of mapping a domain, such as job analysis and “wisdom of practice,” the author alights on the two constructs, depth and breadth, that have come to define how teachers’ subject-matter knowledge is conceptualized. He argues that these two constructs constitute an impoverished vocabulary that misrepresents the complexity of the subject-matter knowledge teachers most need for effective instruction. He proposes an expanded set of constructs – differentiation and elaboration, qualification, integration, generativity, and epistemological knowledge – that better approximate the complexity of a subject-matter domain and serve as a better guide for creating an assessment system.

Creating something entirely new, something important, something for which there is no agreed upon “right way,” set model, or solid precedence is exciting – and, at times, frustrating. Developing the Adolescence and Young Adulthood assessment for science teachers (AYA/S) of students aged 14 to 18+ for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is a case in point. This chapter describes our experiences as an Assessment Development Laboratory (ADL) and looks at some of the challenges inherent in developing a large-scale assessment that is complex, strives to be innovative, and must be closely aligned with a given set of standards. Some of the external challenges we faced included shifting and unclear expectations, the conflicting needs of multiple stakeholders and a deadline that was dramatically shortened midway through the process. Within the assessment development process itself we also needed to consider how best to involve teachers, address issues of equity and standardize the process to maximize efficiency. We share some stories to illustrate not only the challenges but also the insights gained and lessons learned during the early years if the project with the hope that they provide a useful historical perspective relevant for other large-scale assessment development projects.

The scoring system for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) assessments was a groundbreaking undertaking that brought with it a host of unanticipated challenges. These, in turn, generated a complete revision of the approach to scoring and the design underwent a number of changes during the first decade. Beginning with an analytical model which was so ambitious that it was entirely too cumbersome and complex to be undertaken within a reasonable timeframe, assessment developers had to systematically redesign a scoring system that would be at once reliable, valid, and operationally feasible.

This chapter details the standard-setting methods used in the development of the NBPTS assessments. The dominant Profile Judgment Method was originally applied only to the NBPTSs Early Adolescence/English Language Arts assessment (EA/ELA). Although extremely flexible, it proved to be too complex, and increased the likelihood of false-negative errors in candidate classification. The Direct Judgment Method was found to be combatively economical; however, it was the Judgmental Policy Capturing (JPC) approach that was used since its approach was more akin to the everyday judgments we all make. The two-stage process of the JPC method will be describe in detail, using the standard-setting process used with the Early Adolescent through Young Adult/Art (EAYA/A) Assessments as an example.

This chapter discusses the reliability of the NBPTS assessments. In order to meet the challenge of ensuring reliability of a complex performance assessment, particular attention was given to the design of the assessment and scoring processes. Several models for considering and determining the reliability of the assessment are also introduced. Results from two assessment cohorts are presented. These results demonstrate that the design features of the NBPTS system support a relatively reliable set of assessments without compromising the complexity of the teaching performance it was designed to assess.

This chapter, completed in 1999, provides an overview and critical analysis of the validity research agenda undertaken by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) for its assessment to certify accomplished teachers at the end of its first decade of assessment development and implementation. The review is presented in three major sections: (a) an overview of the validity criteria underlying the review; (b) a description of the National Board's research agenda presented in its own terms, focusing first on the studies that were routinely carried out for each certificate and second on the “special studies” that were not part of the routine agenda; and (c) a series of six critical observations and explanations based on the validity issues described in the first section.

This chapter aims to present a methodology to address the construct validity of the NBPTS standards, exercises, and decisions to identify accomplished teachers, by asking whether National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) teach differently in their classrooms such that they have a greater positive and worthwhile impact on their students. The critical attributes of expert teachers are identified via a synthesis of meta-analyses and a more traditional review of the literature on expert teachers. These attributes of expert teachers then form the basis of the study to identify the characteristics that discriminate between NBCTs and non-NBCTs.

This article describes a construct validation study of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ system of advanced certification. The evidence analyzed in the study included teachers’ instructional objectives and lesson plans for a given instructional unit, data collected during visits to all 65 teachers’ classrooms, and transcripts of scripted interviews of the teachers and their students. Two validity questions were examined in this comparative study: (a) To what extent is the National Board's vision of accomplished practice, as laid down in its Standards documents and as instantiated in its assessments, consonant with the characteristics of teaching expertise that have emerged from the research and scholarly literature?, and (b) Can National Board Certified teachers (NBCTs) and their noncertified counterparts (non-NBCTs) be distinguished on the basis of the quality of work produced by their students? In every comparison between NBCTs and non-NBCTs on the dimensions of teaching excellence, NBCTs obtained higher mean scores. In 11 of the 13 comparisons, the differences were highly statistically significant.

Teachers are central to the learning of their students, and teacher learning is integral to teaching quality. In this study, six teachers who had recently completed the National Board assessment in the Middle Childhood/Generalist certificate area were interviewed over a six-month period about the effects of the certification process on their views and practices. Overall, the six teachers described changes in their practices for each of the eleven standards, with nearly all of the teachers describing changes in three areas in particular – reflection, assessment, and family involvement. In addition, most of them reported that the certification experience increased their confidence as teachers in part because it validated their current practice and in part because others treated them with more respect. Overall, four of the six teachers described their experience as having had a significant positive effect on their practice, with one teacher characterizing the effect as modest, while another reported little change. The teacher who reported few changes did so because she believed that her practices were already consistent with the National Board vision. A number of features of the National Board certification process appeared to contribute to the professional development of these teachers, including the standards themselves, the portfolio process (but not the assessment center exercises), writing structured commentaries, and collaborating with colleagues.

In this National Board-commissioned study, we examined types of feedback that teacher candidates for certification might receive along with their score reports after completing the Board's assessment process. We designed three standardized forms of feedback and interviewed 29 teachers from the 1993–1994 Early Adolescent/Generalist cohort about their preferences for each of the feedback options and about the inferences that they drew about their performance based on each type. The three feedback formats were (a) cases – extended descriptions of actual performances, annotated with scorer notes; (b) performance syntheses – brief descriptions of the scoring criteria accompanied by a variety of excerpts from candidate materials portraying performances at each level; and (c) illustrative summaries – evaluative descriptions of various candidate responses. Teachers reported that, of the three standardized formats offered to them, they preferred the cases format with its extended descriptions of an actual performance accompanied by annotated scoring notes. In terms of learning effects, candidates drew reasonably accurate inferences about their performance based on both cases and performance syntheses. The central conclusion we reached based on these findings was that feedback needs to be clearly organized around the scoring criteria for the exercise, and that examples of actual performances illustrating the application of the scoring criteria are important. However, teachers also reported that they would have preferred individualized, customized feedback on their own performance, although this option was not offered by the Board. As well, teachers indicated they would have preferred receiving the standardized feedback as “feedfront” to use in guiding them in their teaching and in preparing their assessment materials.

Now nearly two decades into its existence, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) serves as an indispensable reform in American education, not only on its own merits but also in relation to other reform trends, including both standards-based, accountability-oriented developments, and the unfolding of new parental choice and privatization movements. The NBPTS is a major strategy for recognizing and developing outstanding teachers, who are needed in all schools, whether organized around standards and assessments or mobilized via competitive market pressures. Drawing on an analogy with the medical field's National Board for Medical Examiners, this paper discusses the prospects for the NBPTS in the context of American educational reform, making the argument for its centrality, while also discussing the challenges that lie ahead for the Board.

This chapter, originally written for a 1999 conference in Australia, considers the potential of National Board Certification to be a key lever in redesigning and differentiating the career structure for teachers in the U.S. It discusses the advantages of having a strong and well-regarded assessment system to identify prospective teacher leaders and increase the instructional capacity of schools. The author suggests what various parties must do in order for Board certification to achieve its potential. The National Board must increase the numbers and distribution of National Board certified teachers (NBCTs), keep access open for non-traditional candidates, and maintain high standards in assessment and re-certification. At the same time, states and local school districts must develop new roles and responsibilities for NBCTs, maintain or create new incentives for candidates, ensure that the credential is portable across state and local boundaries, and see that NBCTs are encouraged to work in districts and schools that need them most. Meanwhile, NBCTs, themselves, must take the initiative to create and respond to new opportunities for professional growth and responsibility, drawing upon the Board's strong and growing network of accomplished teachers. The chapter closes with three alternative scenarios, suggesting how the future of U.S. public schools depends on making thoughtful decisions about Board certification today.

Level 4The Level 4 performance provides clear, consistent, and convincing evidence that the teacher is able to use analysis and assessment of student responses to literature and student writing to support growth as both interpreters of text and as writers.

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From research on previous National Board assessments, we know that teachers who participate in the development of exercises and entries do not consider those components of an assessment to be equally important and valuable in identifying candidates who should receive National Board Certification. Some entries or exercises are judged by teachers to reflect more effectively the content standards that define what accomplished teachers in the field should know and be able to do. Similarly, some entries or exercises are judged by teachers to elicit performances that are more important indicators of candidates’ levels of accomplishment in the field. For these reasons, expert teachers in a field for which National Board Certification is to be granted have indicated that some entries and exercises should be given greater weight in determining which candidates receive National Board Certification.

Let xik represent the rating assigned on the kth scoring of an examinee's response to the ith exercise.

First, estimate the scoring reliability coefficient on the basis of the covariances, with each covariance computed from all the data that is available (i.e., pair-wise present). Call it rxx.

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National Board: Middle Childhood Generalist Standards

About the Authors

Pages 603-610
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Lawrence Ingvarson is a principal research fellow at the Australian Council for Educational Research. Prior to taking up his present part-time position, he was the research director of the Teaching and Leadership Program at ACER. He began his career as a science and mathematics teacher, teaching in West Australia, Scotland, and England before undertaking further studies at the University of London. He has held academic positions at the University of Stirling in Scotland and Monash University in Melbourne.

Cover of Assessing Teachers for Professional Certification: The First Decade of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
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Advances in Program Evaluation
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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