Race, Gender, and Teacher Testing: How Informative a Tool Is Teacher Licensure Testing?
Issue/Topic: Teaching Quality--Certification and Licensure
Author(s): Goldhaber, Dan; Hansen, Michael
Organization(s): University of Washington
Publication: American Educational Research Journal
Published On: 1/1/2010
Despite the popularly of state-mandated licensure tests and the increased emphasis of testing teachers under No Child Left Behind, there has been limited research examining whether teachers' performance on licensure tests is a valid indicator of classroom effectiveness. Further, there is relatively little work linking teacher licensure test scores to student achievement.
To analyze the information teacher licensure tests provide about teacher effectiveness.
- Licensure tests have different predicative validity for student achievement by teacher race. Student achievement is impacted by the race/ethnicity match between teachers and their students, with Black students significantly benefiting from being matched with a Black teacher. Black and other minority students appear to benefit from being matched with a Black teacher regardless of how well or poorly that teacher performed on the Praxis tests. These positive effects are comparable in magnitude to having the highest-performers White teachers in the classroom.
- Licensure exams, regardless of race, do not function as a good screen for teaching effectiveness in reading, but they do function as a reasonable screen for effectiveness in math.
- Though no differences among demographic groups were detected, the findings do show disproportionate numbers of Black teacher candidates among those who fail the tests.
- Evidence demonstrates that the tests function differently as signals of quality among Black and male teachers than they do among the dominant groups in the teacher workforce, as measure by student outcomes in both math and reading.
- Black students significantly benefit from being matched with a Black teacher. Thus, the uniform application of licensure standards is likely to have differential impacts on the achievement of White and minority students.
- A significant number of teachers perform poorly on licensure tests but are judged to be quite effective (in value-added terms); Strict adherence to the licensure standard may preclude such teachers participation in the teacher labor market.
4,051 North Carolina teachers and 174,828 students in grades 4-6 from the 1994-95 school year through the 2004-05 school year.
Year data is from:
1994-95 school year through 2004-05 school year
Data Collection and Analysis:
NC Department of Public Instruction administrative records, as maintained by the NC Education Research Data Center. Student achievement measures come from state-mandated, standardized end-of-grade reading and math tests. Data also include student background information such as gender, race, ethnicity and eligibility for the federal free and reduced-price meals service. Teacher data include information on teachers' degrees and experience levels, licensure status, and scores on Praxis II tests.
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