The flim-flam report National Council of Teacher Quality (NCTQ) just reared its ugly head again. Those who follow education news know the report is bogus. Many bloggers have been justly slamming the report.
You only need to look at the NCTQ Advisory Board and Board of Directors to understand what they are up to. Most of them have been anti-public school and anti-professional teachers for years.
I mean Wendy Kopp from Teach for America is judging university ed schools? Go on!
So I would like to get a little slam in myself about the NCTQ’s past love affair with the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE). This is an online group to make teachers. It was started by Ed Secretary Rod Paige from the more recent Bush administration.
If you don’t remember Rod Paige, let me refresh your memory. He was a one termer who likened the teachers union to terrorists not long after 9-11.
If you think of teachers as terrorists, as Paige (and probably other reformers) did (and maybe still do), I guess it becomes imperative that you come up with a plan to destroy the ed schools in the universities, who are professionally preparing the teachers, and that is just what Rod Paige attempted to do.
One of the ways he would accomplish this goal was to develop a new way of making teachers. The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence or ABCTE for short was just the ticket.
If you have time to read up on Mr. Paige, please do. He helped bring us No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and was around earlier during the Texas education miracle. Remember that humdinger? Student test scores rose higher than ever before, but later everyone learned the success was rigged. And NCLB was based on…the Texas education miracle.
I think it is important to sometimes go back in time and remember the players and how we got to where we are today when it comes to America’s public schools. And ABCTE is one of those early programs we should revisit.
Paige was followed by everyone’s favorite substitute teacher Margaret Spellings who overshadows Arne Duncan in the teaching experience department. Spellings, as you may recall, likened NCLB to Ivory Soap…it was in her mind “99.9 pure or something.” They both signed on to ABCTE.
ABCTE allows you to go online to become a teacher and get credentialed. You can do it fast and you can do it cheap! They actually brag that the whole kit and caboodle to earn your degree costs less than the cost of one real college class!
Think how politicians and higher-ed leaders do little to bring down the costs of a traditional college education, but they allow cheap programs like ABCTE to flourish.
And they’ve got deals! Why just this past Father’s Day dads were offered a discount! I think the total price was $1700 instead of the usual $1995. If you missed it don’t worry. The Fourth of July is right around the corner. Maybe they will have another bargain!
ABCTE likes to flaunt it. They say: “The American Board offers one of the most flexible and affordable ways to earn your teaching certification. We offer an online, independent study program that will allow you to prepare to teach at your own pace and without the costs of returning to school. American Board candidates take an average of 10 months from enrollment to certification, and many continue working full time jobs while preparing!”
Did I mention, they do special education too?
And you tell me. How does a workbook and occasional mentoring provide the best professional training you can find for teachers who will one day work with students?
But all is not well for ABCTE. Despite a glowing 2012 blog post on the NCTQ website, the recent ABCTE results were pretty bad even in the NCTQ report. Here are the grades:
South Carolina D
Will ABCTE cease to be? Will the free market world of alternative teacher prep push ABCTE out the door? Or will they make excuses and forgive and forget?
The United States Department of Education signed on to the ABCTE, and it uses it, programs like it, and the NCTQ to unfairly damn real education programs in America’s universities.
The NCTQ may be having relationship strife with ABCTE but to be sure, they love all their other alternative programs, like Teach for America. Why, they don’t even see any conflict of interest there with Kopp on the Advisory Board!
That’s too bad for America’s students. The fact that many states embrace this and other unregulated online programs is troubling. How many well-meaning individuals spend money to become teachers, never get the appropriate preparation, and are teaching today? How many tax dollars are going to these programs? ABCTE has a scholarship program. Who’s paying for it?
It is a very sad example of the de-regulation of what used to be a great profession.
I don’t believe there is one credible study that adequately justifies getting rid of ed. schools in universities for faster prep programs totally online.
Instead, we should be flooding these schools with resources to improve legitimate research and good professional teaching practices. America’s children deserve an honest and real professional teaching workforce.
NCTQ may or may not be breaking up with ABCTE, but everyone should wonder who the new teachers are and where they came from when school starts this fall.
Ralph A. Turner says
ABCTE is a scam!!!!! They do not give you the information needed and their tests have numerous triple and double negative questions trying to trip you up. I witnessed a man with a PHD removed from the testing center screaming,”nothing i studied was on the test”.
They are a money maker and that is it!
Felicia Renee Ramirez says
This is the worst program. it took $1900 dollars from me and a lot of my time. It did not teach me anything I already didn’t know. I failed the exam. The questions aren’t like the information in the book.
Just contacted a program that pushes ABCTE and requested reviews of past participants of their program. NADA…nothing. I do not mind having and/or obtaining a teacher certification; however, having EARNED a BA in a humanities discipline, then why am I to further empty my pockets in monetary terms to teach a subject that I have already been certified? How much do teachers ACTUALLY earn compared to the hours and hours required in teaching, grading, record keeping, parent conferences, and disciplinary functions in the classroom? Doctors, Lawyers, and Engineers do NOT become so unless there were teachers to teach them. After certification requirements, Teacher Union dues, personal costs for teaching aids, personal expenses and family time….is it REALLY worth the effort? I could just drive a truck and make a LOT more money.
Nancy Bailey says
ABCTE is a fast track program and not the typical university program. But you make great points about the time involved with becoming a teacher and winding up not only with lousy salaries, but unprofessional treatment too. Thanks, Bill.
It is a scam and I lost my 1900…???? The materials they provide for PTK exam is a joke. They have two parts in the PTK exam – Objective and Essay. I cleared the objective part but the written part is something I couldn’t conquer. I am not a fancy writer which is graded by the IntelliMeter software. I read somewhere that, even a veteran journalist who took the exam couldn’t clear the written part. The organization doesn’t train you or communicate with you anything. If you ask any question about the written part, they will simply ask you to refer the rubric that is associated with the essay, This program is run by bunch of fraudsters who are emptying your pockets in the broad daylight. This is my review about the ABCTE scamming program.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you. I appreciate this review! Sounds awful. I’m sorry you were not treated well.
Right now, ABCTE is the only teaching program that I am able to afford. I took all my teaching courses in college but was unable to get licensed. If alternative licensure programs are removed/revamped, we need to make sure there are accessible alternatives for people from marginalized groups like myself. The licensure process is extremely biased towards well-off white folk. That’s not okay. Our classrooms are not made up of all white, rich kids. Their teachers should be representative of their population and current licensing requirements make that all but impossible.
Nancy Bailey says
So the State won’t license you with college coursework, but will with ABCTE? That makes no sense.
Martin M. says
That’s the real world! I find it hard to not know why there is a “BLM” movement. Structural and systemic racism can keep the majority of a targeted population down. There may also be other extenuating circumstances that affect potential teachers. I have sympathy and empathy.
Staying on topic, I have spoken with many that have been let down by public school teachers and staff. For example – look at Rochester, NY and Las Vegas, NV, both systems have atrocious results. Thankfully there are diamonds (passionate teachers) in the rough. For myself, I
believe mentorship, passion, and experience will lead to better results. We all know the demand for teachers will not go away any time soon. I’m currently researching alternatives to traditional certification. I’m in the research phase. I will also use the resources offered to me at the local Army Education Center. I have to consider, cost, time, and quality of instruction.
I think you will agree with me that there is not one teacher nor human that is omniscient. No matter how long we have held certification or a specific license, we are all limited, we’re all a product of our experiences in life. I am a Combat Veteran and prior to my eight years of Army service I wanted to be a teacher. Now that I am too old and physically not to par for military service (except with a waiver), I havr to question my next career move. I want to do exactly what I did in the Army – teach (train)! In the Army I helped train the force. As a teacher I prefer to teach elementary aged children, they’re brains are like sponges. Since I had a role in training fellow Soldiers their craft to live another day, defend themselves in battle, and to help win a battle and war, I believe I have ability. I had complete responsibility for all aspects of my subordinates’ lives (as long as it is lawful and doesn’t go against the Uniform Code of Military Justice). As a leader and Noncommissioned Officer (NCO), I was charged to develop quality Soldiers: mind, body, and soul. What more do you think I need? In my opinion I have the passion and will not accept defeat.
Until alternatives disappear, please nurture those new teachers regardless of college or university that stamped their diploma. I’m on my journey to help educate the future, all because a few great teachers in my life taught me (civilian and military). So do your part, keep on moving forward. I can read through your words, you are concerned. As a parent of five, I am concerned as well. The quality of our educators are very important. I urge you to use your passion to build up new and future educators so they can be like you – a concerned educator that has passion for students.
The next generation of Americans need quality teachers in all facets of their life. Passion for being an educator is of utmost importance, then we will be able to see the potential in every student. Hopefully I will become a professional educator like you. While teaching, I hope to have your passion and conviction for our chosen profession.
Even though I am a Veteran, I still espouse my role as an Army NCO.
NCO Creed – No one is more professional than I. I am a noncommissioned officer, a leader of Soldiers. As a noncommissioned officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as “The Backbone of the Army.” I am proud of the Corps of Noncommissioned Officers, and will at all times conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the military service, and my country; regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I will not use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety.
Competence is my watch-word. My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind – accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my Soldiers. I will strive to remain technically and tactically proficient. I am aware of my role as a noncommissioned officer, I will fulfill my responsibilities inherent in that role. All Soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership. I know my Soldiers, and I will always place their needs above my own. I will communicate consistently with my Soldiers, and never leave them uninformed. I will be fair and impartial when recommending both rewards and punishment.
Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine. I will earn their respect and confidence as well as that of my Soldiers. I will be loyal to those with whom I serve; seniors, peers, and subordinates alike. I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, noncommissioned officers, leaders!
Nancy Bailey says
Teachers are like those in all professions. You will always find some that not good at teaching. Thank you for your service, but I don’t see school functioning like the military.
While I can’t speak to the military model, I am 100% behind the reality of Teacher Preparation programs (and the college model) being a very elite, exclusive entry point for middle to upper middle class families and students. Through an 1980s ‘reformist’ agenda, I was allowed (legistlatively) to attend a Big 10 school. Just a decade later that would have been impossible with my GPA. The experience of secondary education practicum was a disaster and hardly any support. I did not pursue licensure. Decades later, I found out the program no longer existed an my degree was basically useless. Was there any consideration for retrofits for these graduates? supports for re-entries? No, and I did not have the funds or energy (full time mom/dad and breadwinner and all) to return for a new degree. I too believe not enough mentors exist that understand and can truly support the experience of marginalized adult learners.. That being said, our education system is going through a much needed Overhaul. New and fresh voices will hopefully rise up and speak to the true needs of our next generations. They will NOT be what we left behind in the 20 century. Inclusion has a new tone and we must all be ready to think of the “Profession” more as a “calling” and invest more Passion and Creativity than asking “how long do I have to stay in this district (usually underfunded) before I can leave for another(usually better funded)?” and “what degree to do I need to take next to get paid more?”. Many teachers do not realize how their inherent biases affect the community they teach in and its children.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you for sharing your story. I hope that public schools and the teaching profession aren’t destroyed by Covid-19.
That’s what’s happening to me. I have a teaching cert from another state. A BA and 16 grad school credits for my teaching cert. They’re telling me I need to go back to school and they recommend this program.
Nancy Bailey says
Thanks for sharing. I’m sorry to hear that. You might be interested in the following.
For the record I don’t care for edTPA either.
Rachel Tucker says
I am a teacher and I am enrolled in the ABCTE program. Respectfully and objectively, here is what I think commenters and readers should know:
1. American Board is a non-profit, independent study program.
2. This program provides an opportunity to become certified. It is not a state licensure. However, obtaining a teaching certificate does allow the licensure process to become more efficient. Each state has their specific requirements for teacher licensure. A state requirement could be, “…at least three years of relevant teaching experience in the content area as demonstrated through successful [TESS] evaluations.”
3. ABCTE program requirements to receive a certificate are: pass two certification exams. First, pass the PTK (Professional Teaching Knowledge). This exam has a multiple choice and a writing component. Then, pass the chosen subject area exam. Some states require certifications in two subjects instead of one such as 4th-8th grade math and science. These exams are relatable to the Praxis I and II. Pass a national background check and provide official transcripts of a bachelor’s degree.
4. ABCTE provides program resources such as practice exams, webinars, rubrics, exam standards, program checklists, access to the New Teacher Hotline podcast, and a support team that can answer questions through email, online chat, or calling.
5. As of 2019, ABCTE has issued over 10,000 certifications. This program is not intended to fail anyone. It is stated clearly in the program’s orientation video the expectations to prepare for on the timed, standardized exams. It is the candidate’s obligation to be organized, proactive, and goal-oriented while preparing to take these rigorous tests. This does not mean “I’ve been teaching for years, so I’ll be fine.” It means it is their way (the “best” research-based practices) or no certification. You may be a published writer, but if you do not prepare and comply to their writing rubric on the exam, previous experience will not help. It is not an exam based off a gut feeling. It is based off their best practice standards and a professional response to common scenarios teachers may face in the educational field. There are right answers to choose from on the multiple-choice component and there is the BEST answer to choose.
Now, to comment on my personal experience. I have been teaching for five years. Charter schools in my state do not require any certifications to teach. I was required by the state to complete a three-year teacher mentorship program since I was not certified. Through this mentoring, I learned about this non-traditional certification route with the ABCTE. After moving grades and subjects, I have found the grade and subject area I wish to become certified in through my classroom experience. While this certification program is for many, it is evidently not for all. If a parent were to question my certifications, I would be happy to tell them it was a non-traditional way through the American Board program. After all, it is better to be certified than not at all.
In summary, this program is not and does not claim to be a state licensure program to teach. There are several other requirements per the state such as (but not limited to) completed mentorship programs partnered with the state, a certain amount of professional development hours a school year, or a completion of a certain amount of years teaching that subject and grade level. The ABCTE is simply a certificate and one of the many possibilities to achieve said certificate in participating states.
I would be happy to clarify or answer any questions.
Nancy Bailey says
I would suggest you do some further research on this program. Do a Google search. It might seem convenient but perhaps you can find something better and equally convenient. Some reputable universities offer online programs that provide a better quality program. Good luck.
Rachel Tucker says
I can assure you I did more than a Google search when investing in the advancement of my career. For my situation, the best alternative route was through the ABCTE.
It is arguable that a non-traditional route to becoming a certified teacher has been considered setting the bar too low. After all, a great teacher must be an expert in content and pedagogy. How is that possible to master in a one-year, independent online program? I completely agree. Receiving a certificate does not make a great teacher; a diploma in education through a four-year accredited university or master’s program does not necessarily make great teachers. Mastering pedagogical theory and content does not give one the ability to teach. A first-year teacher given any background is no more prepared in experience or “tricks of the trade” by traditional or alternate routes. No matter the path taken to become an educator, all new teachers need guidance in some or many areas of the job.
Creating an untrustworthiness through different certification routes is shaming those that possibly made a career change, have financial circumstances, or any other logical explanation specific to them as to why a bachelor’s or master’s in education was not for them. Providing a different route to teaching allows more diversity in the workforce to be accepted and celebrated in the classroom. Teachers teach never give up, right? We model find another way to success. I teach an average of one hundred students a school year. Think of how many IEP’s (Individual Education Programs) I abide to lawfully. What if teachers insisted there was only one, right way for a student to be successful or great? Other alternatives to their success are not to be trusted. I understand questioning the turnover rate, and the acceptable quality of an educator. Pinpointing those suspicions to one specific program like the ABCTE is not going to create better or worse teachers.
Nancy Bailey says
Read about ABCTE below. It isn’t a quality program. I would find an online program from an accredited university. I received gifted certification from an online program from the University of South Florida. It was well-done. I learned a lot.
“The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence will be granting teaching licenses in Wisconsin.
“What does it take to earn a teaching license through the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE)?
“That’s it! You never need to step foot in a college classroom or a classroom full of children. This is truly “fast-track” alternative teacher certification. Who needs to work with kids or learn how to interact with other human beings? That’s so “traditional.””
Rachel Olson says
I am 60 years old and masters-level trained communications professional — I have been a public educator for over 20 year and currently teach ESL online. I would like spend the last years of my working life teaching English, even though the profession has become a political hockey puck in the state of Wisconsin where I live. I have looked into the more “traditional” academic route toward becoming a licensed educator, and I will tell you that one single internet inquiry has unleashed a feeding frenzy of sales people representing the dozens of for-profit colleges and universities — including a new hybrid of “school” that basically rents the names and logos of respected institutions — who all want to hard-sell me a MA. It would take at least 18 months and cost me about $30K — for a job that will not likely pay that much in a year! I’m sorry to say this, but higher education in this country has at best become a cut throat business and at worst it is a racket. There is a fine line between protecting professional standards and perpetuating a status quo that has become self-serving and corrupt.
Nancy Bailey says
For-profit colleges are a racket and you’re right about their degrees being problematic for getting a decent paying job if a job at all! Established universities are always a better bet, however, many of those are also focused on corporate funding. Still, they’re a better bet. Thank you, Rachel. You posted an interesting comment and I appreciate it.
Hi, I just want to start by saying that I don’t agree with the way you are characterizing those who have negative things to say about ABCTE. That may only be true of some candidates. I am currently enrolled in their program and from my free trial onward have taken advantage of their resources and prepared in the way they recommended. I passed my PTK exam on the first try. I’m a college graduate who knows how prepare for and pass standardized exams (like the GMAT). Today was my subject area exam which I went into with confidence knowing I studied the material all the way through twice, making use of external resources. Upon sitting for the exam I was struck with a sense of unease because it seemed foreign to me. The questions were unlike the practice questions and not only that the exam focused on unrelated math 9that wasn’t covered) and minute random details that a general subject overview didn’t prepare me for. In addition, the questions certainly were designed to trip people up rather than to test knowledge. And yes, I’m well familiar with the idea of choosing the “best” answer out of similar sounding answers. I unfortunately failed by a small margin and worse, I don’t have confidence that anything I can do can quite prepare me for this exam – especially not a 4 to 6 month overview of the subject that is tested on detail and depth. As, like I stated, the material has a broad scope and the questions focus on random details that an expert (or photographic memory) would be able to answer. The study material, however, is not written in a way as to make one an expert. Certain areas were completely ignored by the exam and it asked questions that were not represented in the study material at all ( a common complaint it seems regarding ABCTE). In the end, the exam is not concerned with testing (teachable) knowledge. It is far more accurately described as a trick to get you to fail.
BTW…this was also true of my PTK exam. I was being asked questions unrelated to the content in my study materials.
Just wanted to share this.
Once a test is failed the candidate is left with options of paying more to extend their course or pay to retake exams. The problem is that the confidence that the course prepares one is no longer there.
Nancy Bailey says
Passing online tests doesn’t make you a teacher. If you really want to teach, enroll in a real university program.
Apparently Not A Teacher says
Damn, you’re really being dogmatically bitchy about this. What makes you a real teacher is actually teaching in the classroom. However you got there, if you have the intelligence, craftsmanship and panache–that’s a teacher. You really are something.
Nancy Bailey says
I try to be respectful. I guess we simply disagree. I think how you got there is important.
I see teaching as a true profession. Certainly there are some individuals who are good with students, but who will make that determination? I believe a teaching degree is necessary.
I want to see students get teachers who are well-prepared who study child development, psychology, how to react to student difficulties, and how to teach reading, science, and all the other subjects. It isn’t easy under the best of circumstances and even with good preparation.
Of course even with a degree a teacher might have a tough time teaching. But I think there need to be some regulations surrounding teaching as a career.
ABCTE doesn’t seem like a good preparation program. Are you a teacher? Did you find ABCTE a good program?
These comments are very enlightening, I wish I saw this before I paid for the program. I am currently a part of the ABCTE program, I find it very difficult to comprehend their format for studying the materials. They provide you with workbooks and standards for your education, but the book does not align with the standards. I can’t find definitive answers to help me master the curriculum. Did anyone else have this problem?
David Spaleta says
I absolutely had the same problem. Are you talking about the “study plan” not aligning with the “content standards”? They did not for me either despite them asking you to print everything out for the workshop on how to study. Then they introduce a new category “domain” which adds to the confusion.
I simply scheduled and paced myself making use of their workshops (especially for the writing component). I did end up passing the PTK exam but didn’t fare as well on my subject area exam. I posted about it elsewhere here.
Nancy Bailey says
It seems like all those in the ABCTE program talk about is passing tests. There’s much more to becoming a teacher.
Hi. I’m sure it does seem that way. I think it’s due to the fact that high stakes tests are a stressful (perhaps even traumatic…LOL!) part of the experience of becoming a teacher. Therefore, people will vent about that aspect in particular. After all, one’s dreams can’t come true without that necessary part of it. But, I don’t think it means that that’s their only priority. Maybe I’m naive but I don’t see how one can become a teacher without having their heart in it. One has to love their subject area, even as a hobby, and enjoy sharing it with others. Although that may not be the focus of the discussion here, but I think that might also be due to the topic of the article. And we should also remember that venting/complaining about high stakes testing is not unique to prospective teachers. I’ve seen students of many important profession do the say. I think it’s just a part of the process.
BTW, and unrelated…is there anyway I can edit or delete my posts if I want to? Thanks.
Nancy Bailey says
Having “your heart in it” is important for any profession. But unless one gets the right preparation to do the job they are a fraud. All I hear about ABCTE is that it is online and those who pay money upfront go online and get to be a teacher in a year.
Hello, I purchased the ABCTE program about 2 weeks ago, and after printing out the materials I saw errors as well within their English study plan and the content standards (a huge glaring error if you ask me). I agree that the content is set up in a very confusing way, as certain material is referenced in one way, and then called something else another time. They also have defunct links in their webinar portions, due to Adobe not supporting flash anymore. I even wrote them asking when was the last time they updated the material and I didnt get a straight answer, just a ” yes we update constantly.”
Since the material is so sloppily put together, I’m assuming so will the tests, as it seems to be the concensus that no matter how hard you study, you may not have the answer- cause it can only be learned from outside material (aka a quote from a book you have never read).
This is all very disappointing….refund is within 30 days but you get only 80 % back.. Shall I get the refund?