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

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

ABCTE: $40 Million Produces 52 Employed Teachers in Four Years

ABCTE continues to offer us a Petri dish to study the growing culture of corruption among the ed industry, the U. S. Department of Education, and the sludge tanks that pump up the propaganda that provides the life support for the education privatization agenda. I have posted a number of pieces here on ABCTE, that ED-sponsored effort to gut professional teacher preparation programs by offering a de-skilled and de-professionalized version of teachers with a credential earned solely on the basis of passing an online test.

With the help of a rogue’s gallery of insider hacks and trough feeders that include Hickok, Rotherham, Finn, and Keegan (just to name a few), ABCTE collected on September 25, 2003 another $35,000,000 in federal grant money to go with the $5 million it had already received to buy office supplies. Two days earlier, Michael Poliakoff offered these stirring words at a White House Conference on Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers:
Both the National Council and the Education Leaders Council are deeply committed to accountability in education, and we have already commissioned a feasibility study of a proposed system to evaluate the relationship between ABCTE certification and student achievement, that is, whether teachers who receive ABCTE credentials are the ones who most significantly boost student learning. It is our duty to the American citizens who have funded this first phase of our project to assess energetically our contribution to the progress of our schoolchildren.
Yes, yes, accountability to American citizens and our schoolchildren. Now $40 million later we find that ABCTE has credentialed exactly 52 individuals who are now employed and who are now the focus of an invalid and unreliable survey report that asks principals about their “perspectives” on 39 of those 52 teachers. (According to my math, that works out to be $769,230.76 per ABCTE test-prepared teacher).

The big mystery here is not the shabby quality of the research, for it reflects the same slapdash and overreaching crap that was offered up back in June in another ABCTE study. What is more mysterious is how a report like this one that truly resembles the work of precocious undergraduate could be issued under the auspices of Mathematica Research. Could that be where some of the $40 million has gone?

The study (the full report here) was conducted as a telephone survey with principals who had either hired or supervised these 39 ABCTE teachers. The biggest problem for the researchers, who clearly wanted to show that ABCTE teachers are rated as high as other teachers, arose from the fact that 27 of the 39 teachers were already teaching prior to receiving this miracle credential. That makes it hard to attribute supervisor ratings, unexceptional though they were, to ABCTE’s miracle credential. Another problem—all interviewed principals had exactly one ABCTE teacher on which to base his comparisons.
Some principals may have hired the Passport holder out of desperation after observing a string of poor teachers. Others may have a very high standard. This was a special concern for us because each respondent reported on just one teacher. Therefore, we had no way to calibrate scores statistically (p.5).
Here are some of the more interesting findings:
  • Respondents who would hire ABCTE teachers in the future: 15, or 40.9%
  • Confidence in ABCTE certification, based on teachers’ performance--
No confidence 2, 5.6%
A little confidence 15, 41.7%
Some confidence 16, 43.1%
A great deal of confidence 0, 0.0%
Don’t know 4, 9.7%

  • Respondents . . . demonstrated some hesitation about attributing the positive experiences to the American Board certification. A majority of Passport teachers had already been teaching when they received their credential; (sic) therefore, the Passport could not have played a role in their being hired. For those who earned the credential in order to teach, administrators did not feel the credential affected the hiring decision, or they could not even recall whether the teacher had the credential at the time of hiring. Principals’ confidence in the potential of their novice Passport holders to develop into effective teachers did not translate into a high level of confidence in the Passport credential (p.21).

And these findings come from a study that has smudgy ABCTE fingerprints all over it. Wonder what an un-bought evaluation would turn up?


    My experience with ABCTE has been very disappointing. Just now I called on the phone to request some information. All of the lines were busy, and I was forwarded to a voice mail box that was full. This happens all the time. I called at 10:15 a.m.. Why, anytime I call after 8:00 a.m., would all of the voice mail boxes be full?
    I am also dissatisfied with the essay. I failed my first attempt because I misspelled the word receive ten times. That was my own fault. Their test is graded by a computer. Each misspelling of the word was docked ten points, out of a total of approximately 370 points, so I failed.
    The test creators claim that errors will be considered based on the level that they distract from the message. Does ten misspellings of the same word distract as much as misspelling ten words? But my complaint is that when I was preparing for the essay, I was told to "write like a fifth grader, " dumb down my sentence length, and above all, avoid misspelling words. What practical application does this have for anyone's life? Even on this comment space, spell check is provided. No intelligent person would send any type of correspondence without checking their spelling. We should be graded on the skills that are useful in today's world.
    Now I am in a situation where I will lose my job if I fail this retake. If anyone is considering taking the ABCTE route, or taking required college classes, take the classes. If you fail a college class, you can retake it, and retake it until you pass. If you fail the ABCTE essay, and aren't able to figure out what the graders are looking for within two retakes, you are done as a teacher. Your 2000 dollars is gone and you have no job.

    Jennifer Wilson
    ABC Canidate number

    1. Yes, Jennifer, I agree; I feel as thought I have been robbed! Worst possible choice I could have made to try and become a teacher: abcte.org.