An article in last week’s Education Week reports on the relatively common practice of school districts using automatic telephone or standardized in-person screening devices for prospective teaching candidates and describes new innovations like a new online assessment for the same purpose. Candidates who pass these screens are then interviewed by a real person. It’s an efficiency measure.
But wait a minute! Isn’t this basically what the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) is supposed to do — arm prospective teachers with a credential that they can then present to real people in schools and school districts who make hiring decisions? And isn’t one argument against the American Board that no single test or screen could possibly substitute for all the personal interaction that should (but often does not) constitute the hiring process. (Of course, as Frederick Hess tirelessly points out, this argument against allowing more people to apply for teaching jobs conflates allowing someone to apply for a job with actually offering him one.)
No wait, not fair, you say! Anyone taking one of these screening assessments will already be state certified, so that guarantees some sort of base level of quality that ABCTE candidates might not have because they only passed a test, right? Well, actually, no. Contrary to accepted wisdom the research shows no such thing…Mickey Kaus summarized the state of play reasonably accurately when he noted recently that today most teacher prep courses are “largely crap” and “leftish PC time-wasters designed to perpetuate the stranglehold of the unions and the education establishment over who becomes a teacher.” Anecdotally, teachers themselves privately say as much. By the way, Kaus isn’t quoting from any study…but he’s pretty much on the mark…For a reasonably concise indictment click here.
So let’s get this straight. These new online assessments and other automations are OK, but an alternative like ABCTE is not. Hmmm…they come from the inside so they’re OK; ABCTE, regardless of rigor (and it is rigorous), comes from the outside so it’s a favorite bete noir for ed schools…sounds like ideology over evidence…and ideology over pragmatism…
Beating A Dead Horse Afterthought: Hey! Wasn’t Dewey for pragmatism? Sure, but they don’t teach him anymore anyway!