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Virginia Journal of Education


NewsFronts



NBPTS-Certified Teachers
Bolster Achievement

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is more than a rigorous process that teachers can go through in order to earn an impressive credential: It also has an impact on student achievement, according to the National Research Council. An NRC report has found that students who were taught by NBPTS-certified teachers made bigger gains on achievement tests that their peers who were taught by teachers who have not earned national certification.

"Earning NBPTS certification is a useful 'signal' that a teacher is effective in the classroom," says Milton Hakel, a psychology professor at Bowling Green State University and chair of the committee that wrote the report.  "But we don't know whether the certification process itself makes teachers more effective -- as they become familiar with the standards and complete the assessment -- or if high-quality teachers are attracted to the certification process."

Future research will address that question.

Launched in 1987, NBPTS develops standards for what an effective teacher should know and be able to do. To earn certification, a teacher must complete a year-long of testing, observation and evaluation. Approximately 64,000 teachers have earned national certification from NBPTS, which calculates to only three board-certified teachers for every five U.S. schools.

NRC, part of the National Academy of Sciences, based its report on existing research and some of its own study.


First-Year Teachers Feel Need for
Diversity Training

NEW YORK—Rookie teachers enter the classroom feeling pretty confident about their ability to teach, but most feel less prepared to deal with the ethnic and racial diversity of their students, according to a joint report by the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality and Public Agenda.

Here are some highlights of the “Teaching in Changing Times” study, based on a nationwide survey of new teachers:

• 80 percent of new teachers feel either “very prepared” or “somewhat prepared” to begin their teaching careers; 81 percent of new middle school and high school teachers feel comfortable teaching their subject matter.

• 94 percent say that diversity training would be “very” or “somewhat” effective in improving teacher quality, which ranked only below reducing class size (97 percent) in the survey.

• 62 percent of new teachers say they plan to teach for a “long time”; 68 percent say they will teach for more than 10 years and only 16 percent say they plan to leave teaching in the first five years.

• When asked if they would choose a school with stronger administrative support or one that paid a significantly higher salary, 79 percent of the new teachers in the survey chose the school with better support.


Strong Relationships Help Students Make
Good Health Choices

COLUMBUS, OH—Strong relationships between students and teachers have long been known to promote better achievement and better behavior—now a report says that such relationships also help students make the life-altering behavior changes they learn in high school health classes.

For years, many high schools have been bringing in outside experts when it came time to teach sensitive topics such as HIV prevention and birth control options. But researchers at Ohio State University and the University of Kentucky have found that students learn more about such topics when they hear about them from their regular classroom teachers, because they know and trust them.
 In the study, nearly 700 high-schoolers were given the same information—some by their regular teachers and some by temporary educators—and surveyed before the class and then again several weeks after completing it.

Almost always, the students had better results with their regular teachers. There were several reasons cited by researchers: Students believed they’d be tested by their regular teachers more than by a temporary teacher and so paid better attention; they believed the information was more important when it came from their regular teachers; and they were more likely to take part in class discussions about sensitive topics with their regular teachers.


American Teens Confident
About Their Futures

WASHINGTON, D.C.—America’s teens are feeling pretty pessimistic about the future of our nation, but pretty good about their own futures as individuals, according to results from the 10th State of Our Nation’s Youth report, conducted by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. Some highlights of the survey:

• Just 53 percent of the just-over-1,000 high school students surveyed say they feel hopeful and optimistic about the future of the country; meanwhile, 88 percent feel “confident” and 66 percent feel “optimistic” about their own futures.

• Three-fourths of teens think the outcome of the presidential election will make a substantial difference in the nation’s direction; teens’ biggest issues are the economy and jobs (34 percent) and the war in Iraq (31 percent).

• Almost one-third (30 percent) of teens regard cyber-bullying as a bigger threat than traditional bullying.
• To prepare for success in a global economy, 33 percent say the most important subjects to master are science and technology.

 


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