Who’ll be a good teacher? We can’t tell

Everyone wants to “raise the bar” for new teachers, writes Bellwether’s Chad Aldeman. But we don’t know who’ll be a great (or good) teacher.

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Looking at teacher prep programs or candidates’ personal characteristics doesn’t help, the No Guarantees report found. Post-training tests don’t show where to set the bar either.

“Teachers who perform better on the Praxis math are, on average, better math teachers,” Aldeman writes. “But the differences are tiny, and there is wide variation at nearly every score.”

Unlike the multiple-choice Praxis, the edTPA “combines video of teacher candidates delivering actual lessons, teacher lesson plans, student work, and candidate reflections,” he writes. It takes many hours.

Prospective teachers who score well on the edTPA tend to out-perform teachers who score poorly. A district hiring two otherwise identical teachers would want to go with the teacher with the higher edTPA score.

But as a policy tool, the edTPA is not much better than Praxis.

It’s not clear “where a state would want to set a cut score,” Aldeman writes.

Without reliable screening tools, states should eliminate “unhelpful barriers” to entering the teaching profession and “let districts take responsibility for training and evaluating their employees,” he concludes.

Teacher certification fraud charged

Aspiring teachers paid a Memphis school official to find substitutes to take a teacher certification exam, prosecutors charge. Clarence Mumford, 58, is accused of charging $1,500 to $3,000 per test. The scam involved at least 50 teachers and would-be teachers required to pass the PRAXIS in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas from 1995 to 2010, according to the indictment.

Mumford is charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, social security fraud, aggravated identity theft, and fraud in connection with fake ID’s created for the test takers. So far, none of the cheaters has been charged.