Research and Rhetoric on Teacher Certification

Linda Darling-Hammond

Abstract


In October, 2001, the Baltimore-based Abell Foundation issued a report purporting to prove that there is "no credible research that supports the use of teacher certification as a regulatory barrier to teaching" and urging the discontinuation of certification in Maryland. The report argued that large inequities in access to certified teachers for poor and minority students are not a problem because research linking teacher education to student achievement is flawed. In July, 2002, the U.S. Secretary of Education cited the Abell Foundation paper in his Annual Report on Teacher Quality as the sole source for concluding that teacher education does not contribute to teacher effectiveness. The Secretary's report then recommended that requirements for education coursework be eliminated from certification standards, and attendance at schools of education and student teaching be made optional. This article documents the many inaccuracies in the Abell Foundation paper and describes the actual findings of many of the studies it purports to review, as well as the findings of other studies it ignores. It details misrepresentations of a number of studies, including inaccurate statements about their methods and findings, false claims about their authors' views, and distortions of their data and conclusions. The article addresses methodological issues regarding the validity and interpretation of research. Finally, the article presents data challenging the Abell Foundation's unfounded claims that uncertified teachers are as effective as certified teachers, that teacher education makes no difference to teacher effectiveness, that verbal ability is the most important determinant of teaching effectiveness, that private schools staffed by uncertified teachers are more effective than public schools, and that untrained teachers are more qualified than prepared teachers. It concludes with a discussion of the policy issues that need to be addressed if all students are to be provided with highly qualified teachers.

Keywords


Alternative Teacher Certification; Elementary Secondary Education; Literature Reviews; Teacher Education; Teacher Effectiveness; Teacher Qualitications

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v10n36.2002

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