Tuesday, March 04, 2008

ABCTE and the Dissembling Hacks and Plagiarizers They Employ (With Your Money)

During most months when ABCTE is running its Special Offers for 150 bucks off their bogus teaching credentials, anyone with a bachelors degree can sign up for $500 to take a test to become a teacher. With the millions of dollars poured into this venture by the U. S. Department of Education, it is the best hope that the enemies of teacher professionalism have of achieving Reid Lyon's dream of blowing up legitimate teacher preparation programs. So far ABCTE's propaganda machine has pushed their way into 5 states as a route to being a "highly-qualified teacher." All with the blessing and sanction of the Bush-whacked U. S. Department of Education. And now Missouri is their target.

It is not often that I come across something on the Web that make me gasp, but today, quite unexpectedly, it happened. Actually, I gasped twice.

I came across this piece of dreck from retired ed psych professor, George Cunningham, at a right-wing braintrust called the Education Consumers Foundation. In a brief offered up there, Cunningham purports to compare the anti-preparation of ABCTE with the highly-respected NBPTS, which at present represents the profession's best shot at a cross-borders type of national licensure for teachers. Most states pay extra to get teachers who have achieved National Board certification. And not only does Cunningham compare them, but he finds ABCTE superior to NBPTS! This is truly conservative ideology run amok.

In his brief, Distinguished Teacher Certification: National Board of Professional Teacher Standards (NBPTS) vs. American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), Cunningham cites two studies, one that found little difference in student test scores between NBPTS teachers and the rest of Florida teachers without NBPTS credentials. In the other study, Tennessee student test scores gains were compared between two other groups of teachers, one group of 13 teachers who passed the ABCTE tests and the other group of 42 teachers that did not pass the ABCTE tests.

And guess what--those teachers who failed the ABCTE tests had smaller gains than those who passed the ABCTE tests. Besides being too small to have any validity whatsoever, this second study compares two very different groups than the first study. Whereas the first study compares NBPTS teachers to the universe of other teachers in the state of Florida, the second study compares one group that we know has at least rudimentary teaching knowledge to one that does not. Even if the second study were valid, we might conclude that that those without rudimentary pedagogical knowledge or subject area knowledge, i.e., those who would fail ABCTE, are not as likely to be as successful in the classroom as those with rudimentary knowledge. Amazing.

Cunningham, nonetheless, concludes on the basis of his apples and dog do-do comparison, that ABCTE is far superior to NBPTS. Not only that, he goes on to mis-characterize the process of National Board certification. Heckuva job, George.

The ABCTE study that Cunningham cites has other difficulties, too. The study was supposedly produced by Joshua Boots, who owns his own bachelor's degree in secondary teaching, and who "manages all program research" for, who else, ABCTE. One may add that he manages to massage research there, too, having plagiarized (gasp # 2) an earlier published study, Student Achievement and Passport to Teaching Certification in Elementary Education, by ABCTE (May 2006) (download pdf) and presented it as his own in 2007 at the AERA National Conference in Chicago. Boots did manage to change a few things in the paper, including one word of the title:

STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AND ABCTE PASSPORT TO TEACHING CERTIFICATION
IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION


2007 AERA NATIONAL CONFERENCE
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS



JOSHUA BOOTS
AMERICAN BOARD FOR CERTIFICATION OF TEACHER EXCELLENCE

Here are a few other examples of Boots's plagiarism, beginning with the Abstract that rips off the Executive Summary of the earlier study:

Example #1
The mission of the ABCTE is to develop and provide an effective and efficient teacher certification process that enhances teacher quality. Passport to Teaching is the national teacher certification program offered by ABCTE. Currently, certifications are available in elementary education (K–6), English/language arts (6–12), mathematics (6–12), general science (6–12), biology (6–12), physics (6-12), chemistry (6-12) and special education (K–12). ABCTE also offers a reading endorsement for certified elementary education teachers (Boots, p. 1)
Compare to--
A vital function of the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence is to develop and provide an effective and efficient teacher certification process that enhances teacher quality. Passport to Teaching is the national teacher certification program offered by ABCTE. Currently, certifications are available in elementary education (K–6), English (6–12), mathematics (6–12), general science (6–12), biology (6–12), special education (K–12), physics (6-12) and chemistry (6-12). ABCTE also offers a reading endorsement for certified elementary education teachers (ABCTE, p. 5).
Example # 2
All candidates for Passport to Teaching certification must hold a bachelor’s degree and demonstrate mastery on rigorous examinations of subject area and professional teaching knowledge. Prior to earning certification, candidates must also pass a federal background check.

Passport to Teaching is a four-step process that offers individualized preparation:
1. Candidates enroll in Passport to Teaching.

2. Candidates complete an online Self-Assessment survey to identify strengths and weaknesses in their teaching and content knowledge. Based on the Self-Assessment, certification candidates work with an experienced teacher (Learning Plan Advisor) to develop an Individualized Learning Plan. This plan recommends materials and resources to prepare the candidate for certification. Candidates are not required to take additional college courses, but may choose to do so for preparation purposes. (Individuals seeking Pennsylvania certification will be required to complete additional coursework).

3. To earn the Passport to Teaching certification, candidates must demonstrate mastery on the computer-based examinations. Each exam has a single national cut scores. The assessments are administered at secure testing centers located throughout the world, and must be completed within one year of enrollment.

With a Passport to Teaching certificate, successful candidates can apply for a teaching license in the states of Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Utah. ABCTE is also actively working to earn recognition for Passport to Teaching in other states. After earning the Passport to Teaching, teachers are eligible to participate in ABCTE’s mentoring program. (Boots, p. 2)
Compared to--
All candidates for Passport to Teaching certification must hold a bachelor’s degree and demonstrate mastery on rigorous examinations of subject area and professional teaching knowledge. Prior to earning certification, candidates must also pass a federal background check.

Passport to Teaching is a four-step process that offers individualized preparation.
1. Candidates enroll in Passport to Teaching.
2. Candidates complete an online Self-Assessment survey to identify strengths and weaknesses in their teaching and content knowledge. Based on the Self-Assessment,
certification candidates work with an experienced teacher (Learning Plan Advisor) to develop an Individualized Learning Plan. This plan recommends materials and
resources to prepare the candidate for certification. Candidates are not required to take additional college courses but may choose to do so for preparation purposes. (Individuals seeking Pennsylvania certification will be required to complete additional coursework.)

3. To earn the Passport to Teaching certification, candidates must demonstrate mastery on computer-based examinations. The examinations are a nationally recognized measure of excellence. The assessments are administered at secure testing centers located throughout
the world and must be completed within one year of enrollment.

4. With a Passport to Teaching certificate, successful candidates can apply for a teaching license in the states of Florida, Idaho, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Utah. ABCTE is also actively working to earn recognition for Passport to Teaching in other states. After earning the Passport to Teaching, teachers are eligible to participate in ABCTE’s mentoring program. (ABCTE, p. 2)
Example #3
Study Findings
The analysis contrasts all self-contained elementary classroom teachers whose examination scores would qualify them for ABCTE certification with those who would not receive certification. To pass, ABCTE candidates must demonstrate proficiency on both the Professional Teaching Knowledge (PTK) exam and the Multiple Subject Exam (MSE).

The 13 teachers scoring at the proficient level on both certification examinations, therefore meeting the certification criteria, are referred to as “passing” teachers. The other 42 teachers failing one or both of the examinations, therefore not meeting the certification qualifications, are referred to as “failing” teachers.

Overall improvement in student’s achievement is a combined average of student performance in all four subject areas tested by Tennessee. Students of passing teachers made positive gains in relation to their peers, while students of failing teachers did not make as much progress. The difference in student achievement between passing and failing teachers is a 1.04 NCE gain advantage for students of passing teachers (significant to the p<.05 level.) Teachers who met the ABCTE certification requirements for elementary education produced greater academic achievement from their students than teachers who did not meet the requirements. The greatest difference in student learning gains by individual subject area was in mathematics; passing teachers’ students had a 2.38 NCE gain advantage (significant to the p<.01 level). In addition, the students of passing teachers showed higher learning gains in science and social studies. The average learning gains of the students of passing teachers were all above zero, indicating that passing teachers’ students exceeded one year’s progress in all subjects. Except in reading, failing teachers’ students made less than one year of progress, compared with their peers. The difference in NCE gains between passing and failing teachers approached statistical significance but only mathematics was small enough to report (Boots, pp. 8-9)
Compared to--

The analysis contrasts all self-contained elementary classroom teachers whose examination scores would qualify them for ABCTE certification with those who would not receive certification. This is the comparison of interest for policymakers wanting to use the Passport to Teaching credential as an indication of elementary teacher quality. To pass, ABCTE candidates must demonstrate proficiency on both the Professional Teaching Knowledge (PTK) exam and the Multiple Subject Exam (MSE).

The 13 teachers scoring at the proficient level on both certification examinations, therefore meeting the certification criteria, are referred to as “passing” teachers. The other 42 teachers, failing one or both of the examinations and, therefore, not meeting the certification qualifications, are referred to as “failing” teachers.

Students of passing teachers had substantial overall improvement in achievement, compared with students of failing teachers. Passing teachers also had positive student learning gains in each subject area, while failing teachers showed below-average student learning gains in every subject area except reading (see Table 1). This suggests that ABCTE certification in elementary education is a valid indicator of teacher effectiveness in a self-contained classroom.

Overall improvement in students’ achievement is a combined average of student performance in all four subject areas tested by Tennessee. Students of passing teachers made positive gains in relation to their peers, while students of failing teachers did not make as much progress. The difference in student achievement between passing and failing teachers is a statistically significant 1.04 NCE gain advantage for students of passing teachers. (Statistical significance is based on results from a two-tailed t-test.)

Teachers who met the ABCTE certification requirements for elementary education produced greater academic achievement from their students than teachers who did not meet the requirements. The greatest difference in student learning gains by individual subject area was in mathematics; passing teachers’ students had a statistically significant 2.38 NCE gain advantage. In addition, the students of passing teachers showed higher learning gains in science and social studies.

The average learning gains of the students of passing teachers were all above zero, indicating that passing teachers’ students exceeded one year’s progress in all subjects. Except in reading, failing teachers’ students made less than one year of progress, compared with their peers (ABCTE, p. 8).

Not only did Boots plagiarize, but he misrepresents other research that he cites. Just one example, here, where Boots cites a study commissioned by ABCTE, which is based on surveys with principals whose experience with ABCTE teachers amounted to exactly one teacher each. And it cannot be argued that Boots was unfamiliar with the research he cites, for he was, in fact, the Project Officer of the Mathematica study he lies about. This is from p. 5 of Booth's plargiarized presentation paper at AERA:
Mathematica also surveyed principals of ABCTE-certified teachers in 2006 and found that, as a group, they were judged to be more effective than both first-year and all other teachers in all 11 areas of teacher effectiveness (Glazerman, Tuttle, and Baxter 2006).
Now here is what the study (download report (pdf)) actually says:
We found that principals typically rated Passport holders to be “as effective” as or “somewhat more effective” than “all other teachers [they had] observed in their career” on every dimension of job performance. A small number of Passport holders received low ratings (“much” or “somewhat” less effective), and a slightly larger number received “much more” effective ratings. Based on the ABCTE teachers they had supervised, principals were mixed on their appraisal of American Board certification, with the most common response that of uncertainty because of the limited experience with the program (typically just one teacher) (p. 3).

And here at left (click to enlarge) are the survey results (based on 39 teachers and 39 principals), which make the report text and Boots's exaggerations about the report even more ridiculous.

Any policymaker or politician looking to get the facts from this ABCTE outfit, or from any consulting group of retired hack professors representing them, should think twice and then again about how these "facts" may come back to bite them. These guys are out to supply the cheapest "teachers" to those who need the best teachers the most, while crushing the progress already made at teacher professionalism over the past 150 years.

3 comments:

  1. Jim,

    I looked at ABCTE's program and I am leary, to say the least. I am a 43-year-old man with and engineering degree, a master's in environmental education (adult) and with seven years teaching experience at a community college as an adjunct. All I want is to change careers and teach junior/middle school science. I really don't have any desire to go back to college for 2 or 3 years, so I am going the "alternative licensure" route.

    I have there questions for your sir: 1) where can I find a complete and "balanced" overwiew of ABCTE's programs?

    2) What is your main beefs with ABCTE?

    3) What do you think of alternative licensure programs like those in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?

    Thank you for your time and consideration

    ReplyDelete
  2. An engineer who teaches community college. Boy, do you have an awakening ahead of you. Have you ever substituted in a school for a month straight? Do you have any idea where these children are "operating" in their learning? Are you aware you will have children with disabilities, children who don't speak much English, children who struggle with simple addition, parents who never come to a school, and children who just might assault you when your back is turned?

    I want to hear what you have to say after your have substituted a month straight in a public high school, teaching differing levels of students.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous6:03 PM

    @Marty: Wow, Jim politely presents his current situation and asks a straight forward question and you respond with the "terrors" of reality? You didn't even begin to address his questions. All you did is attack his interest in teaching at the junior/middle school level.

    ReplyDelete