BC Prof. Part of Effort to Evaluate Massachusetts Teacher Exams

(8-11-98) -- In the wake of widespread failures on the new Massachusetts teacher exams, a Boston College testing specialist is asking what sort of grade the tests themselves deserve.

Prof. Walter Haney (SOE) of the Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Educational Policy has joined two professional colleagues in a study of how scores on the Massachusetts teacher tests compare to those on better-known national exams.

Haney was joined by Salem State College Prof. Clarke Fowler and education researcher Anne Wheelock last month in forming the Ad Hoc Committee to Test the Teacher Test.

The researchers want to see how individuals who took the Massachusetts teacher exams have done on more established national exams, such as the Graduate Record Examination or the Miller Analogies Test, widely used for graduate school admission, or the National Teacher Examination, used in more than two dozen states for teacher certification.

Haney said the latter three national tests "are widely used and have much more validity evidence" than the newly launched Massachusetts teacher exams, for which he said "virtually no validity evidence" has been given by the state.

Nearly 60 percent of the 1,800 aspiring teachers who took the first Massachusetts test in April failed.

Boston College students did comparatively well on the April test, with nearly four out of five candidates scoring a passing grade. The BC success rate on the exams was among the highest of any college or university in the state.

While saying he was pleased Boston College students scored relatively well, Haney said he will "remain an agnostic" regarding the actual merit of the Massachusetts exams "until there's more validity evidence."

The researchers leafletted test-takers sitting for a second round of testing in July, asking that they submit their scores along with those of other graduate-level tests they had taken.

Results of the July test are to be released by Aug. 15. Haney said his team hopes to hear back from at least 50 of the test-takers in the coming weeks.

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