SOURCE: EDUCATIONAL TESTING SERVICE

December 12, 2007 11:00 ET

ETS Report: New Teacher Quality Has Improved During Past Decade

PRINCETON, NJ--(Marketwire - December 12, 2007) - New teachers in American classrooms are more academically qualified today than just a decade ago, according to a new report from the ETS Policy Information Center. The report attributes the positive trend to a period of unprecedented policy changes focused on issues of teacher quality.

"Teacher Quality in a Changing Policy Landscape: Improvements in the Teacher Pool" ties the confluence of policy changes at the federal, state and institutional levels to improvements in teacher candidates' academic qualifications. The report was written by ETS Distinguished Researcher Drew Gitomer, who compared the academic qualifications of teacher candidates who took Praxis assessments for teacher licensure from 2002 through 2005 with qualifications of a cohort of test takers from eight years before.

"The study shows that when stakeholders focus on a common objective and use a variety of strategies to work toward that objective, positive changes can occur," says Gitomer. "In the past decade, we've seen dramatic changes in the academic qualifications of teacher candidates -- seldom have changes in education policies had such a positive impact in so short a time."

Findings in the report show that:

--  The academic profile of the entire candidate pool, including those
    meeting state Praxis requirements, has improved.
--  The SAT-Verbal scores for candidates who passed the Praxis tests
    increased 13 points. SAT-Math scores increased 17 points.
--  Today's candidates have higher college Grade Point Averages (GPAs).
    The percentage of candidates reporting higher than a 3.5 GPA increased from
    27 to 40, while the percentage of candidates reporting lower than a 3.0 GPA
    decreased from 32 to 20.
--  Improvements are consistent across genders, racial/ethnic groups, and
    across licensure areas.
--  During the last few years, increased numbers of Praxis candidates were
    individuals with prior teaching experience, particularly those from
    university-based teacher preparation programs.
    

"As a nation, one of the greatest investments we can make is in teacher education and support programs," says Congressman George Miller, D-CA, Chair, House Education and Labor Committee. "We know that having a highly qualified teacher creates a more rigorous and engaging learning experience for students. In fact, the most important single factor in determining a child's success in school is the quality of his or her teacher. A core element in building the educational infrastructure our nation needs to maintain our economic leadership will be to continue our efforts to place an excellent teacher in every classroom -- one of the ways we hope to significantly improve No Child Left Behind."

While changes cannot be credited to any one policy effort, the report contends that the following changes have yielded the greatest impact:

--  Increased accountability of teacher education programs to report
    teacher candidates' test scores;
--  Greater focus on ensuring that all teachers are qualified. The No
    Child Left Behind mandate for Highly Qualified Teachers (HQT) requires
    teachers be licensed and show competence in their subject area. This, in
    turn, led to middle-school content tests to ensure subject proficiency for
    teachers of middle-school students;
--  Increased requirements for entry into teacher education programs. Some
    states, for example, set minimum GPA requirements;
--  Strengthening of teacher quality requirements for accreditation. The
    National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the
    Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC), for example, now require
    candidates to provide evidence of subject area knowledge and pedagogical
    skill;
--  Rapid expansion of alternate pathways into teaching.
    

"The noted improvements in academic characteristics of prospective educators over the past ten years are not random phenomena," says Sharon P. Robinson, President and CEO, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. "These changes result from public policy and professional practices aimed at producing the very high capabilities we require in the nation's schools. This study from ETS should inspire optimism and encourage all of us to recommit to the goal of providing every student with caring and competent teachers in schools organized for success."

Despite the highly encouraging news in general, Gitomer cautions, more work remains to be done. "One of the sobering findings of the report is that the teacher candidate pool is no more diverse than it was a decade ago," he says. "Females continue to make up three-quarters of the candidate pool, which is overwhelmingly White. The lack of language diversity continues. Still, this report demonstrates beyond a doubt that change is possible when we focus our collective efforts and resources on a common objective. It's up to us to determine what that next objective will be."

Download the full report, "Teacher Quality in a Changing Policy Landscape: Improvements in the Teacher Pool," for free, and view related materials at www.ets.org/teacherqualityreport. Purchase copies for $15 (prepaid) by writing to the Policy Information Center, ETS, MS 19-R, Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08541-0001; by calling (609) 734-5949; or by sending an e-mail to pic@ets.org.

About ETS

ETS, a nonprofit organization, celebrates a 60-year history of advancing quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research and related services for all people worldwide. In serving individuals, educational institutions and government agencies around the world, ETS customizes solutions to meet the need for teacher professional development products and services, classroom and end-of-course assessments, and research-based teaching and learning tools. In 2006, ETS developed, administered and scored more than 50 million assessments in over 180 countries, at more than 9,000 locations worldwide and, in 2006 had consolidated revenues of $836 million. Additional information is available at www.ets.org.

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