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Testy establishment

National | Education reformers are increasingly critical of the current teacher-certification system

Issue: "Supreme warning," July 5, 2003

Education reformers are increasingly critical of the current teacher-certification system, charging that it emphasizes formal preparation and adherence to an accepted teaching philosophy over aptitude and content mastery. Critics-including some in the Bush administration-have called for alternative routes to allow more and better-qualified teachers to enter the field. The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) was launched in 2001 with a $5 million federal grant to develop an alternative certification process; it plans to administer its first round of tests this August.

That has the education establishment fighting to maintain its sole jurisdiction over certification. As a statement from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education explains, "[ABCTE's] effort undermines the hard work that the teaching profession has undertaken during the past two decades to strengthen preparation, licensing, and certification." Reg Weaver of the National Education Association called the ABCTE alternative "a sham."

But name-calling isn't the worst of the obstacles ABCTE has faced. The group's test security was compromised this spring when the president of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education distributed confidential copies of the exam to colleagues. House education committee Chairman John Boehner (R-Ohio) last month said he plans to investigate whether the ABCTE test was deliberately sabotaged.

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Jennifer Marshall
Jennifer Marshall

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