At a Glance
American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) U.S. Department of Education
Project Time Frame:
New Approaches to Teacher Certification: American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence
Alternative routes to teaching have been promoted during the past decade because of concerns about teacher shortages and quality. Education policymakers have long sought to establish teaching standards and measure new and continuing teachers against these standards, but existing methods for certifying teachers have been criticized for being either so onerous as to deter good candidates or so lax as to keep weak teachers in the profession. To provide another approach, the U.S. Department of Education funded the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) to develop portable teacher credentials that would identify qualified beginning teachers and recognize accomplished veterans.
To help inform the debate, Mathematica evaluated ABCTE's new approach to alternative certification of new teachers, originally called the Passport to Teaching. Our first two reports in 2006 presented an early look at participants, plans for the remainder of the study, and principals' reports on the ABCTE teachers and the credential in general. The first report focused on the 109 candidates who received an ABCTE certificate in the program's first year. The second report provided early evidence on the performance of American Board-certified teachers based on a survey of their supervisors. Administrators gave a generally positive assessment of the teachers and a cautious assessment of the program that certified them.
A June 2008 report offered evidence on the experiences of ABCTE certificate holders after they obtained the credential. Mathematica’s survey of more than 500 ABCTE alumni revealed that 6 out of 10 were teaching K-12 in the U.S., 71 percent of whom were in public schools, and 20 percent in Title I schools. The average attrition rate of ABCTE teachers was 14 percent, including teachers who had left a position within one, two, or three years after obtaining the credential. ABCTE teachers were concentrated in schools whose states were early adopters of the credential—principally Idaho and Florida—but were beginning to appear in several other states around the country.
The latest report used propensity score matching to identify a comparison group for ABCTE teachers in Florida to answer the question—Do alternatively certified teachers produce student achievement gains on par with other teachers? Using data on 30 teachers over two years, the study found no differences in gains in reading between students of ABCTE and non-ABCTE teachers. However, students of ABCTE teachers scored lower than their counterparts on the state math test.
"ABCTE Teachers in Florida and Their Effect on Student Performance" (August 2009)