"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, June 02, 2006

ABCTE Research Shapes The Past

I have resisted a response to the simultaneously infuriating and laughable piece of research that the uninspired frauds at ABCTE recently circulated at their National Press Club gathering on May 11. Despite a free lunch for reporters and despite press releases on Yahoo and PR Newswire, not a single reporter could be duped into doing a story on what must be the first ever study to bother to confirm that teachers who know more about the art/science of teaching and about the subject matter they teach do better on tests that ask questions about teaching and the subject matter they teach. The best that ABCTE propagandists could do to generate interest was this sadly-uninformed commentary in the Rocky Mountain News by someone who argues that ABCTE is a superior credential to the one offered by NBPTS. Oh, well.

For those who have not been following my rantings about ABCTE, this outfit is the brainchild of the union busters and John Dewey haters at ED who foresee a corps of American teachers, highly qualified by virtue of passing a subject matter test and a test of “professional teaching knowledge.” In short, no professional university degree required, please. Embraced by ed industry shill, Rod Paige, as a legitimate avenue to full certification before either of the ABCTE miracle tests was even developed, Paige put Gene Hickok in charge of doling out $40 million in taxpayer dollars to ABCTE , whose Board of Directors contains all the usual suspects in the continued fleecing of federal education budgets and the continued demonization of public education--Finn, Carnine, et al. There could never be a more appropriate use of the old metaphor of foxes being put in charge of the henhouse.

Now if this “study” were simply content to confirm the obvious, as it clearly does, I would not be bothering to respond to its remarkable launching and simultaneous sinking. Yet it is not the obvious that this slickly-packaged propaganda piece (pdf) purports to demonstrate, but, rather, it is to establish a correlation where there is none and then to call that phony correlation a cause:
This study, Student Achievement and Passport to Teaching Certification in Elementary Education, provides evidence that the ABCTE certification process works. As you will read, the research demonstrates that teachers who would have passed the ABCTE examinations in elementary education and professional teaching knowledge produce higher student learning gains in the classroom than teachers who would have failed (p. 2).

The key phrase here is “who would have passed,” because none of the 77 teachers in this study was certified to teach as a result of passing ABCTE’s miracle tests. And none of the 55 teachers who teach multiple subjects in a self-contained elementary classroom was given an opportunity to use the test preparation materials that ABCTE sells (brought to you by Kaplan) to its “Passport” candidates when they plunk down their $500 to take the tests. So the 13 teachers who passed the two ABCTE tests, one in multiple subject matters and the other in teaching knowledge, did so as a result of what they obviously learned in their teacher preparation programs, their own professional development, and in their other subject-related coursework at university. The fact that these lucky 13 had higher student gains, then, on the state tests should come as no surprise, but to claim that this tiny sample validates that ABCTE’s phony-baloney testing works to create academic gains is nothing less than an outright lie.

One still has to wonder how many of the 59 failing teachers would have passed the ABCTE tests if they had been offered the study materials that all ABCTE candidates are urged to buy to prepare for the tests. But, then, if they had passed, that would have destroyed the bogus correlation that these academic prostitutes set out to establish in the first place.

One final bogus correlation should be noted here, and it is the one drawn by the report’s authors that there is some connection between value-added testing methodology and what these pretenders-to-research are doing in this fraudulent report. Even though the authors associate themselves with value-added assessment, there is not a clearer demonstration of the principles of value-added assessment being ignored than the one they offer. The core principle of value added is the measuring of academic gains over time and the examination of how multiple variables affect those gains. The variable introduced here, the ABCTE test, is not examined over any dimension of time, short term or long term, but in fact the tests are are only introduced only after a single set of results was obtained. This legitimacy-by-association-after-the-fact might work in political circles, but going down to Tennessee, where Sanders started value-added assessment, will not add any value to this worthless piece of dreck passed off as “scientifically-based research.” It only shows what a charade and a fraud this enterprise really is.

Finally, Andy Rotherham recently congratulated ABCTE folks for being "admirably restrained in touting the study" that they have manufactured. As an insider who helped launch this outfit and to land their 40 millions, such faint praise by the Eduwonk might be intended to help these frauds get their lead balloon back to the ground without entirely crashing and burning. After all, modesty is the only assailable route when appropriateness calls for something entirely non-aggressive. Try an apology.

1 comment:

  1. YES: It only shows what a charade and a fraud this enterprise really is.