|USFDC Home||| RSS|
This item is only available as the following downloads:
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
record xmlns http:www.loc.govMARC21slim xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.loc.govstandardsmarcxmlschemaMARC21slim.xsd
leader nam a22 u 4500
controlfield tag 008 c19999999azu 000 0 eng d
datafield ind1 8 ind2 024
subfield code a E11-00116
Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 7, no. 4 (February 11, 1999).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c February 11, 1999
Less than truth error? : an independent study of the Massachusetts Teacher Tests / Walt Haney, Clarke Fowler, Anne Wheelock, Damian Bebell, and Nicole Malec.
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
1 of 6 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 7 Number 4February 11, 1999ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal Editor: Gene V Glass, College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 1999, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES. Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education Less Truth Than Error? An independent study of the Massachusetts Teacher T ests Walt Haney, Clarke Fowler, Anne Wheelock, Damian Bebell and Nicole MalecAd Hoc Committee to Test the Teacher TestCenter for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Edu cational Policy Boston CollegeAbstract The Massachusetts Teacher Tests (MTT), in troduced last year, have never been subject to external review as required by the measu rement profession's standards and many legal precedents. Neither the Massachusetts De partment of Education (DOE) nor the tests' manufacturer have made public informatio n about the exams' reliability (consistency) or validity (meaningfulness). Using d ata from state and academic reports from the April and July test dates, an ad hoc commi ttee of nationally-known researchers has now been able to make a preliminary assessment of the exams. The committee focused on the Communications and Literacy exam tha t was required of all prospective teachers regardless of grade level or subject area. The purpose of the analysis was to determine the accuracy of the tests in assessing th e reading and writing skills of the test-takers. Scores on the Massachusetts Teacher Tests of reading and writing are highly unreliable. The tests' margin of error is close to double to triple the range found on well-developed tests. A person retaking the MTT sev eral times could have huge
2 of 6fluctuations in their scores even if their skill le vel did not change significantly. In fact, the 9 to 17 point margin of error calculated for th e tests represents more than 10 percent of the grading scale (assumed to be 0 to 100). The large margin of error means there is both a high false-pass rate and a high false-failur e rate. For example, a person who received a score of 72 on the writing test could ha ve scored an 89 or a 55 simply because of the unreliability of the test. Since adults' rea ding and writing skills do not change a great deal over several months, this range of score s on the same test should not be possible. While this test is being touted as an acc urate assessment of a person's fitness to be a teacher, one would expect the scores to accura tely reflect a test-taker's verbal ability level. In addition to the large margin of error, th e MTT contain questionable content that make them poor tools for measuring test-takers' rea ding and writing skills. The content and lack of correlation between the reading and wri ting scores reduces the meaningfulness, or validity, of the tests. The vali dity is affected not just by the content, but by a host of factors, such as the conditions un der which tests were administered and how they were scored. Interviews with a small sampl e of test-takers confirmed published reports concerning problems with the content and ad ministration. If the Commonwealth wants high standards for its teaching force, it should use assessments that meet high professional standards. The current MTT fail this criterion. Results from the April and July administrations of the MTT reveal that these new tests are so unreliable and of such poor validity that th ey are passing candidates who should fail and failing ones who should pass. Therefore, t he ad hoc committee recommends: The Massachusetts Board of Education should immedia tely suspend the administration of the Massachusetts Teacher Tes ts. 1. The Commonwealth should convene an independent pane l to audit the tests' development, administration, and use. 2. An investigation should be launched to uncover why the state contracted with this test developer even after lear ning of the company's poor past performance in developing tests of this type. 3. Introduction Background Reliability and Validity of the Mass. Teacher Tests Interviews with MTT-Takers Conclusions & Recommendations References Appendices The Massachusetts Teacher Tests: A Chronology 1. Richardson v. Lamar County Bd. of Educ. 729 F. Supp 806 (M. D. Ala. 1989) 2. Summary of Results of Interviews with Examinees 3. About the AuthorsWalt Haney is a professor in the School of Educatio n and Senior Research Associate in the Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Educational Policy at Boston College. He is former editor of the journal Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice advisor to the committee that developed the 1985 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing and author of numerous articles concerning educati onal testing and evaluation. He has also served as an ex pert witness in numerous court cases
3 of 6 concerning testing.Clarke Fowler is a professor in the Education Depar tment at Salem State College. He has taught both preschool and kindergarten and curr ently teaches courses in early childhood education.Anne Wheelock, an independent education policy writ er and researcher, works for several national foundations and is the author of Safe To Be Smart: Building a Culture for Standards-Based Reform in the Middle Grades (1998). Damian J. Bebell is a doctoral student at Boston Co llege where he is employed at the Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Edu cational Research. His research interests include educational philosophy, alternati ve forms of assessment, and homeschooling.Electronic mail addresses and phone numbers for the authors are: firstname.lastname@example.org (617-552-4199), email@example.com (617-5 24-4704), firstname.lastname@example.org (802-254-2796), and email@example.com.Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Edu cational Policy Campion Hall, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467Copyright 1999 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is http://epaa.asu.edu General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-0211. (602-965-96 44). The Book Review Editor is Walter E. Shepherd: email@example.com The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: firstname.lastname@example.org .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin Greg Camilli Rutgers University John Covaleskie Northern Michigan University Andrew Coulson email@example.com Alan Davis University of Colorado, Denver Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Richard Garlikov firstname.lastname@example.org Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Alison I. Griffith York University Arlen Gullickson Western Michigan University Ernest R. House University of Colorado
4 of 6 Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Calgary Richard M. Jaeger University of North Carolina--Greensboro Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Green Mountain College Dewayne Matthews Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education William McInerney Purdue University Mary McKeown-Moak MGT of America (Austin, TX) Les McLean University of Toronto Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington Anne L. Pemberton email@example.com Hugh G. Petrie SUNY Buffalo Richard C. Richardson Arizona State University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Dennis Sayers Ann Leavenworth Centerfor Accelerated Learning Jay D. Scribner University of Texas at Austin Michael Scriven firstname.lastname@example.org Robert E. Stake University of Illinois--UC Robert Stonehill U.S. Department of Education Robert T. Stout Arizona State University David D. Williams Brigham Young University EPAA Spanish Language Editorial BoardAssociate Editor for Spanish Language Roberto Rodrguez Gmez Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico email@example.com Adrin Acosta (Mxico) Universidad de Guadalajaraadrianacosta@compuserve.com J. Flix Angulo Rasco (Spain) Universidad de Cdizfelix.firstname.lastname@example.org Teresa Bracho (Mxico)
5 of 6Centro de Investigacin y Docencia Econmica-CIDEbracho dis1.cide.mx Alejandro Canales (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxicocanalesa@servidor.unam.mx Ursula Casanova (U.S.A.) Arizona State Universitycasanova@asu.edu Jos Contreras Domingo Universitat de Barcelona Jose.Contreras@doe.d5.ub.es Erwin Epstein (U.S.A.) Loyola University of ChicagoEepstein@luc.edu Josu Gonzlez (U.S.A.) Arizona State Universityjosue@asu.edu Rollin Kent (Mxico)Departamento de Investigacin Educativa-DIE/CINVEST AV email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Mara Beatriz Luce (Brazil)Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do Sul-UFRGSlucemb@orion.ufrgs.brJavier Mendoza Rojas (Mxico)Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxicojaviermr@servidor.unam.mxMarcela Mollis (Argentina)Universidad de Buenos Airesmmollis@filo.uba.ar Humberto Muoz Garca (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxicohumberto@servidor.unam.mxAngel Ignacio Prez Gmez (Spain)Universidad de Mlagaaiperez@uma.es Daniel Schugurensky (Argentina-Canad)OISE/UT, Canadadschugurensky@oise.utoronto.ca Simon Schwartzman (Brazil)Fundao Instituto Brasileiro e Geografia e Estats tica email@example.com
6 of 6 Jurjo Torres Santom (Spain)Universidad de A Coruajurjo@udc.es Carlos Alberto Torres (U.S.A.)University of California, Los Angelestorres@gseisucla.edu
1 of 1Introduction The Ad Hoc Committee is an independent gr oup, whose formation is described in this report. The drafting and publication of this r eport have been solely the responsibility of the Committee. Nonetheless, we would like to ack nowledge the support and help of numerous people and institutions in preparing this report. These include the Commonwealth Education Deans' Council, Boston Colle ge, Bridgewater State College, Elms College, Framingham State College, Lesley Coll ege, Salem State College, The University of Massachusetts at Boston, and Westfiel d State College. In particular, we would like to thank the Center for the Study of Tes ting and Public Policy, which allowed us to use its address as a temporary mailing addres s for the Committee. Among individuals who have generously assisted us are Irw in Blumer, Mary Brabeck, Joseph Caruso, John Cawthorne, Richard Clark, Bill Dandrid ge, Patricia Delaney, Anne Harrison, Virginia Harvey, Catherine Horn, Bailey J ackson, Diane Joyce, Joanne McCourt, Patricia O'Brien, Joan Rasool, Maria Sachs Bob Schaeffer, Kelly Shasby, Dennis Shirley, and Michael Thomas. Also, we thank Larry Ludlow, Ron Hambleton and Dan Koretz who provided helpful reviews of stat istical analyses recounted in this report. The report itself is entirely the responsib ility of the authors, and has not been sponsored, funded or endorsed by any institutions o r individuals who have aided our inquiry. Reviewers of drafts of this report have be en generous in offering comments and suggestions, but naturally not all have agreed with all that is written here. The Ad Hoc Committee was formed out of conc ern that important decisions were being based on Massachusetts Teacher Tests (MTT) (N ote 1) scores without reasonable evidence on their reliability and validity--a clear violation of professional standards concerning testing. These standards, the widely rec ognized 1985 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (Note 2), have been in existence for almost 50 years (in current and previous editions) and have b een relied upon in numerous legal proceedings that involved testing in state and fede ral courts. The very first provision of these standards deals with test validity, requiring that: Evidence of validity should be presented for the ma jor types of inferences for which the use of a test is recommended. A ratio nale should be provided to support the particular mix of evidence presented for the intended uses. (Standard 1.1 p. 13). Other standards call on test publishers or developers to document the reliability of test scores for each total score, subscore, or comb ination of scores that is reported (Standard 2.1, p. 29); to clearly describe scales u sed for reporting scores (Standard 4.1, p. 33); and to document the reliability of classifi cation decisions based on licensure or certification tests (Standard 11.3, p. 65). Moreove r, Standard 5.1 requires that: "A technical manual should be made available to prospe ctive test users at the time a test is published or released for operational use" (p. 35). In contravention of these requirements, MTT results are being used to make decisions about prospective teachers in Massachuset ts, and about educational policies in the Commonwealth. Our Committee therefore set out t o gather evidence on the technical merits of the MTT. Before we recount what informati on we have gathered and what has been learned from it, we describe the background to our inquiry.
1 of 4Background Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Rob ert Antonucci reported to the Massachusetts Board of Education on December 15, 19 97, that he had selected National Evaluation Systems (NES), a test development compan y based in Amherst, MA, to develop and administer new teacher certification te sts for Massachusetts (see appendix 1 for more details on the chronology of the developme nt of the MTT). We learned of this in January, 1998. One of us (Haney) was sufficientl y concerned about this prospect that he faxed to then Associate Commissioner of Educatio n David Driscoll a copy of a federal court decision in which NES had been found to have "violated the minimum requirements for professional test development" whe n it created teacher certification tests for the state of Alabama. (Note 3) Associate Commissioner Driscoll did not respond directly but we learned through an intermed iary that NES had been one of only three contractors to bid on the Request for Respons es (RFR) issued on February 24, 1997. In February 1998, the Commonwealth commission ed NES to develop tests of communication and literacy skills and of subject ma tter knowledge. (Note 4) At that time, the plan was that there would be two trial administrations of the new tests (in April and July, 1998) and that their scor es would not count toward certification of eligible teacher candidates. As described in a s tudy guide and registration bulletin released by the Massachusetts Department of Educati on (DOE) in January 1998, candidates would be required to achieve qualifying scores in order to be certified only beginning with the third administration in October 1998. But then a change was made: on March 25, 1998, the DOE announced that candidate s taking the April and July tests would not qualify automatically; instead, they woul d have to make passing scores to be provisionally certified. The first MTT tests were given on April 4, 1998. In the ensuing weeks NES convened scoring panels to help determine where pas sing scores on the new tests should be set. On June 22, acting on the recommendation of NES, the Massachusetts Board of Education voted to set passing scores one standard error of measurement below those that resulted from NES's analyses of scoring panel reviews. This meant that 44% of the 1,800 prospective teachers who took the April tests would have failed. Then in the midst of his campaign for elect ion as Governor, Massachusetts Acting Governor Paul Cellucci had Board of Education Chair man John Silber convene a special meeting of the Board to reconsider its vote on qual ifying scores. Reversing its decision of less than two weeks earlier, the Board voted on July 2 for higher passing scores; now 59% of the April test-takers would fail. (At this m eeting, Interim Commissioner of Education, Frank Haydu, appointed after Antonucci h ad taken a job in the private sector, resigned. Haydu had recommended the lower qualifyin g scores because the test was untried and subject to measurement error.) The results of the first MTT administration were mailed to test-takers in early July. They showed that 70% of examinees passed the readin g test, 59% the writing test, and widely varying percentages the 32 subject matters t ests. Because candidates had to pass all three tests to pass the MTT overall, the overal l passing rate was only 41%. This overall result, with a majority of can didates failing, led to immense negative publicity. Even before the passing scores were adju sted in July, in a speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on June 25, Mass achusetts Speaker of the House Tom Finneran commented, "I'll tell you who won't be a teacher. The idiots who flunked
2 of 4that test and flunked so miserably--and, of course, the idiots who passed them." (As reported in the Boston Herald on 6/26/98, by Darrre ll S. Pressley, "Dumb struck: Finneran slams 'idiots' who failed teacher tests.") The second MTT administration took place on July 11, just days after April test-takers had received their results. In a press release dated July 23, 1998, the DOE said: MALDEN--State Commissioner of Education David P. Dr iscoll today released the results of the April 4 Massachusetts T eacher tests showing the pass and fail rates for prospective teachers by the institution they attended. The 1795 prospective teachers who took tests in Apr il in communication and literacy and in various subjects entered on the ir registration sheets information concerning the 56 colleges and universi ties they attended. That data was then verified by the institutions; 54 chec ked the data and made corrections where necessary.Because in some cases there is a very small sample of students taking specific subject tests and a small sample of gradua tes from some of the institutions, results need to be interpreted carefu lly. Many schools have fewer than ten students who took parts of the test, so making a broad statistical conclusion in those cases is not sound. Release of results by institution prompted much public hand-wringing among teacher preparation institutions. A front page stor y in the Boston Globe on July 24, 1998, for example, reported, "Colleges vow to retool afte r failures on teacher tests" (O'Brien, 1998). All this heightened our concern that import ant decisions were being made on the basis of the hastily-developed MTT before their tec hnical merits had been established. Hence in July, at the suggestion of Clarke Fowler, the three of us (Fowler, Haney, and Wheelock) decided to found the Ad Hoc Committee to Test the Teacher Test. Our initial idea was to ask people who had taken both the MTT a nd some post-collegiate national examination, such as the Praxis (the successor to t he National Teacher Examination or NTE) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), to s end us copies of their score reports. Comparing the two sets of scores would all ow us to test the validity of the new MTT against established tests such as the Praxis or GRE. The principle was simple: if the new MTT were valid and reliable, then scores on the new Massachusetts test should be comparable with those from other tests. Flyers inviting test-takers to send us copi es of their score reports were distributed at many of the testing sites for the July 11 administr ation of the MTT. As of December 1998, more than 30 individuals had generously provi ded us with copies of their score reports on both the MTT and some other test (includ ing the Praxis, the Millers Analogies Test, the New York State Liberal Arts and Sciences teacher certification test, and the Texas teacher certification test, the ExCET ). Among them, however, there were only twelve cases in which people had taken the MTT and the same other test, leaving us with samples that were too small for reasonable sta tistical analysis. Nonetheless, many individuals who sent us scores spontaneously offere d us comments on the new MTT. Hence we decided to interview those willing to be i nterviewed. These interviews are summarized in part 4 and appendix 3 of this report. On August 17, detailed results of the July administration were released to the
3 of 4institutions of higher education whose students too k the tests. Seeing a copy of these results for one institution, which listed students' MTT scores from both April and July, we realized that we could use these data to estimat e the reliability of the MTT tests. Adults' basic skills in reading and writing would n ot change much in a three-month period; people could not cram for the July test sin ce no study guide was available; and, in any case candidates did not learn they would hav e to retake the test until just days before the second administration when the April res ults were mailed to examinees. Hence, we set out to acquire data from institutions which had students take the MTT in both April and July. The results of this inquiry ar e presented in part 3 of this report. However, before describing the nature and r esults of this inquiry, we point out that many share our misgivings about the lack of technic al documentation on the new MTT. For example, testing experts such as George Madaus of Boston College and Ron Hambleton of the University of Massachusetts at Amh erst have publicly commented on the lack of documentation about the new MTT (Madaus 1998; Hambleton, 1999); and in both press releases and letters, the Commonwealt h Education Deans' Council has expressed concern about the lack of evidence on the MTT's validity (Jackson, 1998). On August 24, 1998 Board of Higher Educatio n Chairman James Carlin called a meeting at Framingham State College for deans and p residents of Massachusetts institutions of higher education to discuss implica tions of the MTT results. At this meeting, DOE spokesman Alan Safran said: "We're com mitted to full disclosure about this test," and stated that the Department was will ing to release all "non-proprietary" data. The Ad Hoc Committee therefore wrote to Actin g Commissioner of Education David Driscoll to request three sets of data from t he Massachusetts Teacher Tests that would allow us to analyze their psychometric proper ties. Specifically we asked for: Item level and total test scores (both raw scores a nd scaled scores) for all examinees who took the Massachusetts Teacher Tests in April. We seek these data in order to be able to analyze the psychometric pro perties of items on the April test. 1. Item level and total test scores (both raw scores a nd scaled scores) for all examinees who took the Massachusetts Teacher Tests in July. We seek these data in order to be able to analyze the psychometric pro perties of items on the July test. 2. Test scores of all examinees (both raw scores and s caled scores) for all examinees who took the Massachusetts Teacher Tests in both Ap ril and July. We seek these data in order to analyze the test-retest reliabilit y of the Massachusetts Teacher Tests. (Ad Hoc Committee letter to Driscoll, Septem ber 7, 1998) 3. Acting Commissioner Driscoll did not reply. More recently, in a November 22, 1998, comm entary article in the Boston Globe, "Good teachers need a good test," Emanuel Mason, th e chair of Northeastern University's Department of Counseling Psychology, R ehabilitation, and Special Education wrote: The primary problem with the MTT in all its version s is its validity. Validity is the degree to which a test measures wha t it was designed to measure. . If a test does not have validity, it does not measure anything. Further, validity should be demonstrated before a t est is used as the basis for decisions on licensing or any other outcome. The MT T's developer has yet
4 of 4to provide evidence of validity, and the test alrea dy has been administered three times. Ignoring well-established professional stan dards concerning testing, the DOE and NES have not made available any documentation on th e reliability and validity of the MTT. We therefore set out to study the technical me rits of the tests, to begin to answer the question Mason and others have raised: How good are the new MTT tests?
1 of 19The Reliability and Validity of the Massachusetts T eacher Tests Given the publicity that has surrounded the new tests and the questions that have been raised about their validity and reliability, i t is not surprising that Massachusetts officials have sought to defend their merits. For e xample, in his July 7, 1998, editorial in the New York Times, John Silber wrote that the exam s had been "validated by teachers and scholars who prepared it . [and] again by t he panels of distinguished teachers, administrators and college professors who reviewed the questions for fairness and agreed on minimal passing scores." What this defens e does not take into account is that a test cannot be validated simply by having people re view test questions. Test validation refers to the meaning of te st scores and that meaning depends not just on test content, but also on a host of other f actors, such as the conditions under which tests are administered and how they are score d. A simple example illustrates this point. Suppose that we have a test made of 50 three -digit addition problems such as 231 + 458 = ? On its surface, this would seem to be a t est of ability to add three-digit numbers. Perhaps so, if given in a math class with 20 or 30 minutes to solve the 50 problems. But suppose the test was sprung with litt le warning on aspiring accountants as a condition for getting a job, and they were given only five minutes to solve the 50 problems. Under these conditions, the test would ob viously measure the ability not just to add three-digit numbers, but also to work fast u nder pressure. Or suppose that answers above 999 were scored correct only if they included a comma between the hundreds and thousands positions (such that 1,200 would be score d correct, but 1200 would not). If examinees were not told of this scoring rule, this would undermine the validity of the test as a measure of addition skills; the scoring r ule would in effect test examinees' adherence to a particular convention for writing nu mbers greater than 999. This example is directly relevant to the Ma ssachusetts Teachers Tests, for when candidates signed up to take the April exams, they had been told that these were merely practice tests and results would not count toward c ertification. But less than two weeks before the examination, the DOE announced that the results would count toward certification. Moreover, people taking the MTT in A pril and July had no access to sample tests or details on how questions (such as e xercises in summarization and dictation) would be scored. Hence it is impossible to assess how meaningful the MTT scores are simply by reviewing questions that make up these tests. The concepts of test validity and reliability So how does one assess the validity and rel iability of test scores? The 1985 test Standards says: Validity is the most important consideration in tes t evaluation. The concept refers to the appropriateness, meaningfulness and u sefulness of the specific inferences made from test scores. Test validation i s the process of accumulating evidence to support such inferences. ( AERA, APA & NCME, 1985, p. 9, emphasis added) Traditionally, three types of validity evid ence have been recognized: content-related validity evidence, criterion-related validity evide nce, and construct validity evidence. Content-related validity refers to the "degree to w hich the sample of items, tasks or
2 of 19questions on a test are representative of some defi ned universe or domain of content" (AERA, APA & NCME, 1985, p. 10). As Emanuel Mason p ointed out in his November 22, 1998, article in the Boston Globe, this is the only form of validity evidence to which state and NES officials have even referred, and eve n here they have provided no technical documentation as required by the 1985 tes t Standards But, since validation refers to the meaning fulness of test scores, validation must also consider evidence on criterion-related validit y and construct validity. Criterion-related evidence "demonstrates that test scores are systematically related to one or more outcome criteria" (AERA, APA & NCME, 1985, p. 11). The validity of college admissions tests is often evaluated in terms of the extent to which scores predict success in college as measured by freshman-year grade-point average (a form of criterion-related validity evidence referred to as predictive validit y evidence). Another form of criterion-related validity evidence is concurrent v alidity. This refers to how scores on one test relate to those on another test intended t o measure the same trait, when both tests are taken at about the same time. This is the sort of validity evidence that the Ad Hoc Committee was seeking when we asked test-takers to send us score reports on both the MTT and other tests designed to measure communi cations skills and/or teaching competence. As recounted above, we have not been ab le to acquire enough data to allow us to undertake a concurrent validity study. Construct validity is an over-arching conce pt referring to evidence that test scores represent "a measure of the psychological character istic of interest" (AERA, APA & NCME, 1985, p. 9): The process of compiling construct-related evidence for test validity starts with the process of test development and continues until the pattern of empirical relationships between test scores and oth er variables clearly indicates the meaning of the test score. Especially when multiple measures of a construct are available -as in many practica l testing applications -validating inferences about a construct also requir es paying careful attention to aspects of measurement such as test format, admi nistration conditions, or language level, that may affect test meaning and in terpretation materially. Evidence for construct interpretation of a test may be obtained from a variety of sources. Intercorrelations among items m ay be used to support the assertion that a test measures primarily a single c onstruct. Substantial relationships of a test to other measures that are purportedly of the same construct and the weaknesses of relationships to me asures that are purportedly of different constructs support the ide ntification of constructs and the differences among them. Relationships among different methods of measurement and among various nontest variables sim ilarly sharpen and elaborate the meaning and interpretation of constru cts. Another line of evidence derives from analyses of i ndividual responses. Questioning test takers about their performance str ategies or responses to particular items or asking raters about their reaso ns for their ratings can yield hypotheses that enrich the definition of a co nstruct. (AERA, APA & NCME, 1985, p. 10, emphasis added). page 1 | introduction | background | reliability & validity | interviews | conclusions | references
3 of 19 A test that is valid must be reliable. "Rel iability refers to the degree to which test scores are free from measurement error" (AERA, APA & NCME, 1985, p. 19). As a basic textbook on testing points out, "The ceiling for possible validity of a test is set by its reliability" (Thorndike & Hagen 1977, p. 87). In other words, if a test does not measure something reliably, it cannot be a valid me asure of anything. The reliability of the Massachusetts Teacher Tests Absent sufficient data to assess the concur rent validity of the MTT, we decided to inquire into their reliability. Specifically, once we realized that relevant data might be available to us, we sought to examine the reliabili ty of the scores on the April and July administrations. Comparing scores on these two admi nistrations of the MTT might be thought of as a study of either test-retest or alte rnate-forms reliability. Testretest reliability refers to the consistency of scores on two administrations of a test. Alternate-forms reliability refers to the consisten cy of scores on two different forms or versions of the same test. As we do not know to wha t extent the July MTT tests used identical questions as the April MTT tests, it is u nclear whether our study should be termed a test-retest or alternate-forms study. But the essential idea is quite simple. It is to compare the scores on the MTT tests for people who took them in both April and July. Adults' scores on basic skills tests of reading and writing tests should not change much over three months, and since no study guides were a vailable, examinees could hardly have crammed for the second administration. So if t he MTT tests are reasonably reliable, we would expect individuals' scores on these two ad ministrations to be similar; if they are unreliable, we would expect the scores to vary widely. We should acknowledge that there are severa l other ways in which test reliability might be estimated, such as internal consistency (i ndicating how much item results on one test administration tend to cohere.) (Note 5) B ut, the goal of certification tests such as the MTT is to estimate not simply examinees' com petence on one test-taking occasion, but their competence in general. Alternat e-forms reliability is thus more appropriate for assessing reliability. As Thorndike and Hagen (1977, p. 79) point out, "evidence based on equivalent test forms should usu ally be given the most weight in evaluating the reliability of a test." After the July administration of the MTT, t he Department of Education distributed lists of results for individual test-takers to inst itutions of higher education in the Commonwealth. When we realized that these lists con tained individuals' scores for both the April and July tests, we decided to try to gath er enough data to undertake a test-retest or alternateforms reliability study. We contacted some institutions individually via phone, and some through the Commonwealth Education Deans' Council. Three institutions with large numbers of students retakin g the MTT tests in July were contacted via letter, which read in part: We are seeking your cooperation in affording us acc ess to data that will allow us to analyze some of the psychometric proper ties of the Massachusetts Teacher Tests.In particular we seek access to scores of examinees who took Massachusetts Teacher Tests in April and again in July. Access to these data will allow us to analyze the test-retest reliability of the Massa chusetts Teacher Tests. Your institution received a computer printout label ed "Institution Roster
4 of 19 Report By Test: Verified Institutional Affiliation" for test date July 11, 1998. We would like to receive either a copy of thi s computer printout or a data file containing relevant data. To preserve the confidentially of examinees we seek these data with the names and SSN 's of candidates removed. (Letter to institutional representatives, September 22, 1998). As of mid-December we had received MTT data from eight institutions, namely Boston College, Bridgewater State College, Elms Col lege, Framingham State College, Lesley College, Salem State College, UMass Boston a nd Westfield State College. Five of these institutions are public and three are priv ate. In both April and July, students from over 50 different institutions took the MTT. E ight out of 50 represents only 16% of the institutions that had students taking the MTT, but since these eight represent some of the largest teacher training institutions in the Co mmonwealth, they account for close to one third of the candidates who took the MTT in Apr il. Altogether we collected data on 219 people who took the MTT tests in both April and July, though not all 219 took the reading, writ ing and subject matter portions of the MTT on both occasions. (Note 6) One of the first th ings we noted about the April and July MTT scores is that some of the score changes s eemed truly bizarre. (Note 7) For example, one individual was reported to have scored 36 on the reading test in April and 75 on the April writing test, but to have scored 89 on the reading test in July and 17 on the writing test. In another case, an individual wa s reported to have scored 56 on the writing test in April and then got an 11 in July. S uch huge score changes seemed so unlikely that we inquired into the accuracy of the reported scores. In both of these cases, the scores reported were verified by institutional representatives. In the first case we were told that the individual had not been prepared for the reading test in April, and that the dramatic increase from 36 in April to 89 in Jul y was explained by the fact that the test taker had known that the latter counted toward certification. Why did the writing score plummet from 75 to 17 while the reading score increased from 36 to 89? According to the institutional representative, this happened because the test-taker started taking the July writing test, but then remembered t hat because she had scored more than 70 in April, she did not have to take the writing t est again in July. Hence she simply stopped answering questions. Nonetheless the July s core of 17 was reported to the institution as a failure. In the second case, in wh ich writing scores dropped from 56 in April to 11 in July, the institutional representati ve verified the accuracy of the scores. She had no explanation for the dramatic score decre ase, but added that the individual who had received these scores had left Massachusett s to take a teaching job in Arizona. Table 1 presents the summary statistics for the 219 cases of April and July MTT test-takers for which we have data. Table 1: Summary Descriptive Statistics on April-Ju ly MTT Test-Takers Reading 4/98Writing 4/98 Reading 7/98Writing 7/98 Count215218130173 Mean65.263.169.470.7 Median6663.57071
5 of 19 Standard deviation 14.710.315.211.8 Minimum 3362111 Maximum93879696 These data suggest that this sample is not unlike the April MTT test takers in general. On average, they fell below the passing sc ore of 70 on both the reading and writing tests. Initially, these results would appea r to make the MTT results seem reasonably reliable. Among repeat test-takers, the average reading scores increased from 65.2 to 69.4, and the average writing test scores f rom 63.1 to 70.7, apparently modest changes. But note the differences in the count of p eople in this sample who took the April and July tests. While more than 200 took both reading and writing tests in April, fewer than 180 took the tests in July. This reflect s the fact that test-takers had to retake tests in July only if they had scored less than 70 on either the reading or writing tests. Hence, in order to assess the reliability o f the MTT tests, we need to examine the correlations between April and July tests for exami nees who took the same portions of the MTT tests on both occasions. Table 2 shows the intercorrelations of reading and writing test scores for people who took both tests. For those who took the reading test in April and July, the correlation of scores was 0.29; for writing, 0.37. Table 2: Intercorrelations of April and July MTT Sc ores Reading 4/98Writing 4/98Reading 7/98Writing 7/98 Reading 4/981.00 (215) 0.07 (215) 0.29 (127) 0.24 (169) Writing 4/98 1.00 (218) 0.47 (129) 0.37 (172) Reading 7/98 1.00 (130) 0.06 (94) Writing 7/98 1.00 (173)Note: Sample sizes shown in parentheses, test-retes t correlations in bold. These test-retest intercorrelations are ext raordinarily low. Correlation coefficients can range from -1.00 to +1.00. Test-retest correlat ion coefficients for well-developed standardized tests typically range between 0.80 and 0.90. For example, test-retest correlations for the SAT have been reported to rang e between 0.86 and 0.90 (Donlon,
6 of 191984, p. 54). Similarly, Thorndike & Hagen (1977, p 321) report alternate-form reliability coefficients in the range of .85 to .95 for the Stanford Binet. In contrast, the scores of examinees who took MTT reading tests in A pril and July correlated only 0.29, those of examinees who took the writing test in Apr il and July correlated 0.37. To provide a more detailed picture of the r elationship between April and July scores, Figures 1 and 2 show scatterplots of test s cores for individuals in our sample who took the reading and of writing tests, respectively on both occasions. Several patterns are apparent in comparing these figures. First, not e that the "scatter" in reading test scores is greater than that in writing scores. This simply reflects the findings shown in Table 2 above; namely, that the correlation between reading scores in April and July (0.29) was smaller than that for writing test score s (0.37). Figure 1. Scatterplot of April and July MTT Reading Test Scores Note also how widely retest scores vary amo ng people who had approximately the same test scores in April. For example, in Figure 1, amo ng examinees who had scores of about 60
7 of 19on the reading test in April, retest scores in July ranged from less than 40 to about 90. And, as is apparent in Figure 2, among test-takers who scor ed in the 65 to 69 range in April, retest scores range from about 50 to 90. These figures also illustrate some of the h uge score changes that initially caught our attention. These cases, often called "outliers" in data analysis, are marked with x's in Figures 1 and 2. In Figure 1, for example, note the three c ases in the upper left corner. In all three cases, examinees had scores of less than 20 on the reading test in April but more than 70 in July, increases of more than 3 standard deviations. And in Figure 2, note the case in the lower right corner, representing someone who had a score of 75 in April, but a score of 17 in July. This is the case mentioned previously that was so b izarre that we asked the institutional representative to verify the accuracy of the data-the case of the test-taker who, remembering she did not have to take the writing test again, si mply stopped answering questions (Note 8) The other clear "outlier" in Figure 2 is lowest x o n the figure, representing someone who had a score of 56 on the writing test in April, but 11 in July. Figure 2. Scatterplot of April and July MTT Writing Test Scores We have checked these "outlier" cases and a ll are accurate in terms of scores reported to institutions. Nonetheless, as a more conservative e xamination of the test-retest reliability, we recalculated the test-retest correlations after del eting the outliers. We refer to these groups, after deleting outliers, as our trimmed samples. Sp ecifically, after deleting the four unusual cases marked in Figure 1 with x's, the test-retest correlation for the reading test rose to 0.49.
8 of 19Similarly, after deleting the two outlying cases sh own in Figure 2, the test-retest correlation for the writing test increased to 0.48. This brings us to one other feature apparen t in Figures 1 and 2, and also to a possible explanation for the remarkably low test-retest corr elations shown in Table 1. Note that in both Figures 1 and 2, there is only one case for wh ich retest data are available for an examinee who scored 70 or above in April. This is b ecause people who scored 70 or above "passed" the tests and did not have to retake them in order to be provisionally certified. With this one exception, our test-retest data for the MT T are for people who scored below 70 on the April tests. This leads to one possible explana tion for the unusually low test-retest correlations, namely attenuation of observed correl ation coefficients due to restriction of range. This concept is easy to explain with an exam ple. People's height tends to be correlated with their weight. Tall people tend to weigh more t han short people. Thus, we would find a positive correlation between the heights and weight s of adults in general. But suppose that we consider a sample of people who are all exactly fiv e feet tall. If we examine the correlation between their height and weight, we will find a zer o correlation for the simple reason that they are all of the same height. By focusing on peo ple who are exactly five feet tall, we have restricted the range on this variable; hence, the o bserved correlation between height and weight for this sample has been reduced or attenuat ed. This is what is meant by attenuation due to restriction of range. If we restrict the ran ge of a variable, the observed correlation between this variable and another will be attenuate d, as compared to the correlation that likely would be observed if the range on the variab le were not restricted. Hence, before concluding that the MTT readi ng and writing tests are unreliable, we need to consider the possibility that attenuation due to restriction of range, with most of test-retest data available only for examinees who scored less t han 70 on the April tests, may have led to the low test-retest correlations shown in Table 2. Fortunately, the phenomenon of attenuation of correlation coefficients due to restriction of r ange has been widely recognized in the testing and measurement literature. Formulas and ta bles are available to allow estimation of "unattenuated" correlation coefficients when restri ction of range is taken into account (slightly different formulas are available, for exa mple, in Lord & Novick, 1968; Cronbach, 1971; and Linn, 1982). Lord & Novick (1968) present an extended di scussion of attenuation due to restriction of range and tables showing how observed correlatio ns can be corrected for attenuation. If we assume that the relationship between two variables is linear and that the conditional variance of one does not depend on the particular value of t he other (the assumption of homoscedasticity), then the following table shows t he corrections for observed correlations when the percentage of the sample is restricted to the top (or bottom) 60%, 50%, 40% and 30% of the entire population. As shown in Table 2 a bove, we found that the observed correlation between the April and July MTT reading tests was 0.29. However, 70% of examinees passed the April reading test, so the ran ge of examinees who had to take the July reading test was "restricted" to only the bottom 30 % of the population of April examinees. Table 3 indicates that a correlation of 0.30 observ ed when range is restricted to 30% of a population would be corrected to 0.519 for the whol e population. Similarly, we observed a correlation of 0.37 between scores on the April and July writing test, but since about 60% of examinees passed the April writing test, the group retaking the July writing test was restricted to about 40% of the population. Table 3 indicates t hat an observed correlation of 0.40 in a sample restricted to 40% of a population would be c orrected to 0.616 for the entire population. For the trimmed samples, the observed c orrelations of 0.49 and 0.48, would be corrected to about 0.74 and 0.72, again presuming t hat only the bottom 30% retook the reading test and the bottom 40% retook the writing test.
9 of 19 Table 3: Corrections for Attenuation Due to Restric tion of Range Normal deviate z Percent selected in restricted sample Standard devia-tion in selected group Ratio of SD in unselected to SD in selected groups (K) Observed correlation of 0.30 in restricted sample corrected to Observed correlation of 0.40 in restricted sample corrected to Observed correlation of 0.50 in restricted sample corrected to -0.2559.90.651.540.4360.5580.644 0500.61.640.4580.5820.688 0.2540.10.561.790.4910.6160.719 0.530.80.521.930.5190.6440.744 Source: Adapted from Lord & Novick, 1968, pp. 140-1 42. To verify these corrections for attenuation due to restriction of range, we conducted simulation analyses to address questions such as th e following. If the test-retest correlation among a group of test takers was 0.50, what would b e the correlation observed if only the bottom 30% on the initial test were considered? We do not attempt to present all of the results of these simulations here, but instead, in Figure 3, present the results of one iteration of the data simulations aimed at addressing the fol lowing question. If there were a testretest correlation between test 1 (t1) and re-test (t2) of 0.50, what would be the observed correlation between test and re-test scores if attention were r estricted to only the bottom 30% on the initial test (t1). What our results show is that if there were a test-retest correlation of 0.50 among the entire population of test-takers, restric ting attention to only the bottom 30% of test-takers on the initial test (t1) would reduce ( or attenuate) the observed correlation to about 0.30. These results confirm the theoretical results reported above. Given that we observed a test-retest correlation of about 0.30 in the 30-40% of examinees who had to retake the MTT, our estimate of the test-retest correlation for the MTT, if all examinees had retaken the tests, is about 0.50.
10 of 19 Figure 3. Example of Simulation Results Note: Results shown here are for a sample of 1000 Test-retest correlations in the range of 0. 50 (or even 0.70) are unusually low. In comparison, as previously mentioned, test-retest co rrelations for the SAT have routinely been found to be in the range of 0.85 to 0.90 (Donlon, 1 984, p. 54). There are several ways of illustrating the implications of test-retest reliab ility being as low as 0.50. One way of interpreting a test-retest reliability coefficient rtt is as the ratio of signal to "noise plus signal ," or as the ratio of true score variance to observed score variance. rtt = signal / (signal + noise) = true score variance / observed score variance Since observed score variance is composed o f true score variance plus error score variance (see Anastasi, 1976, pp. 120-22, or many o ther textbooks on testing, for more detailed explanations), this equation can also be e xpressed as rtt = (true score variance) / (true score variance + e rror score variance) Thus, it is easy to see that when a test-re test reliability coefficient rtt is as low as 0.50, observed scores are composed of as much error score variance as of true score variance. Thus a test-retest correlation of 0.50 indicates that MT T scores contain as much error as true score variance. Even a test-retest correlation of 0.70 in dicates that MTT scores are composed of 30 percent error variance. A second way of showing the meaning of a te st-retest reliability coefficient rtt is to use it to calculate the standard error of measurement, as follows: (Thorndike & Hagen, 1977, p. 85; Anas tasi, 1976, p. 128) where:
11 of 19e = standard error of measurement st = standard deviation of test scores, and rtt = test-retest reliability coefficient. As shown in Table 2, in our test-retest sample, we found the standard deviations of reading and writing test scores to be about 15 and 11 point s respectively. However, these observed standard deviations were based on the restricted sa mple of retest examinees (with only 30% of April examinees having to retake the reading tes t and 40% the writing test), so we need to find a way of estimating the standard deviations of MTT test scores for the entire population of test takers. As we have pointed out, even after the MTT have been administered four times, over a period of a year, no technical report on these new tests has been issued. Hence, we must rely on data shared with us by cooperating institutions to estimate the standard deviations of MTT reading and writing test scores among the entire po pulation of examinees. We have available two different avenues for pursuing this end; usingt heoretical adjustments of data on our test-retest sample and using data institutions shar ed with us on all their students who took the MTT in April and July. page 1 | introduction | background | reliability & validity | interviews | conclusions | references Using the theoretical approach (and the dat a shown in Table 3 above), we can multiply the restricted sample standard deviations by 1.93 a nd 1.79 to estimate the standard deviations in the full population of April examinees. Since 15 x 1.93 = 28.95, and 11 x 1.79 = 19.69, we may use these figures as one set of estimates of th e standard deviations of the MTT reading and writing tests. A second approach is to examine the standard deviations of the April tests for the institutions which gave us data on all of t heir April test-takers. We found that that the within-institution standard deviations to be as hig h as 19 points for the April reading test and 16 for the April writing test. Hence, as summary estimates of the standard deviations of the April tests, we averaged these two estimates, which yielded 24 [(29 +19)/2] and 18 [(16 +20)/2] as ballpark estimates of the standard deviations of the April tests for t he full population of test takers. Then we estimate standard error of measurement for the MTT reading and writing tests as follows: Even if we use the more conservative estima tions of test-retest correlations, based on the trimmed samples (that is, with outliers deleted) an d adjusting for attenuation dues to restriction of range, namely 0.74 and 0.72 for the MTT reading and writing tests respectively, these would still imply standard error of measureme nt of 12.2 and 9.5. In other words, our results suggest that the standard errors of measure ment in the April MTT Reading and Writing tests were about 17 and 11 points respectiv ely (or at best 12 and 9). While neither the Massachusetts DOE nor NES has yet released any tech nical information on the scaling of the MTT, we have found MTT scores to range from near ze ro to almost 100. If indeed the scores for the MTT are on a 100 point scale, this means th at standard errors of measurement of 9 and 17 points represent some 9% to 17% of the entir e score range. This means that
12 of 19 examinees scoring in the range of 50 to 69 may easi ly have "failed" the MTT simply because of measurement error, and, conversely, ones scoring in the range of 70 to 90 may well have "passed" simply because of the large degree of meas urement error in the MTT tests. These errors of measurement on the MTT may be compared with the standard error of measurement on well-known tests for which technical documentation is available. The SAT (originally, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, briefly renamed the Scholastic Assessment Test, and now just the SAT) is reported on a scale that range s from 200 to 800, or 600 points. The standard errors of measurement of the SAT verbal an d quantitative scores have been reported to be in the range of 29-34 points (Donlon, 1984, p p. 33-34), or 4.4 to 5.7% of the score range. The standard errors of measurement for the G raduate Record Examination have been reported to be 33, 38 and 36 points for the GRE Ver bal, Quantitative and Analytical subtests respectively (Conrad, Trismen & Miller, 1977, p. 19 ). Since these scores are reported on scales ranging from 600 to 670 points, these standa rd errors of measurement are all less than 6% of scale range. If the standard errors of measur ement of MTT scores are 9 to 17 points, as we have estimated, representing 9% and 17% of the M TT score range, this means that MTT scores have almost double to triple the degree of e rror as the SAT and the GRE (as estimated by SEM relative to scaled score range). The reliability of classifications based on the MTT This brings us to a point mentioned in the introduction of this report. As the 1985 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing point out, for licensure or certification tests on which people are rated as passing or faili ng, it is important to provide data not just on test scores, but also on the reliability of classif ication decisions based on those scores (Standard 11.3, p. 65). As Ron Hambleton has pointe d out, "there were serious problems with the setting of passing scores on the reading litera cy, writing and subject matter [MTT] tests": A detailed description of what it means to be quali fied was not developed; 1. Panelists who set passing scores did not have an op portunity to discuss their recommendations with each other prior to finalizing their recommendations to the Board; 2. Technical data arising from the process of setting passing scores was not presented to the Board for their consideration. (Hambleton, 1999 pp. 20-21) 3. Nonetheless, data available from the April and July administrations of the MTT allow us to examine the reliability of pass/fail classificat ions based on the MTT reading and writing tests. In a report entitled "Massachusetts Teacher Tests. Summary of Institution results for Second-Time Test Takers. Test Date: July 11, 1998. Test Summary," the Massachusetts DOE released data shedding direct evidence on this poin t. The report lists the number, and percent passing, of examinees who retook the MTT on July 11 1998. Results are reported only for institutions that had more than four candidates. He nce this table showed reading test results for only 18 institutions and writing test results f or 23 institutions. These data are shown in Table 4 below. Table 4: Passing Rates of Second-Time Test Takers o n July 11, 1998, MTT Tests InstitutionReading Reading % Writing Writing %
13 of 19 N pass N pass American International College 1070.01330.8 Anna Maria College 520.0540.0Assumption College 650.0 Boston College 785.7580.0Bridgewater State College4158.55955.2Curry College 633.3616.7Fitchburg State College 2556.03145.7Framingham State College 1631.31952.6Lesley College 1266.71464.3Mass. College of Liberal Arts 633.31050.0Merrimack College 540.0966.7Salem State College 1776.52676.9Simmons College 6100.0 Springfield College 2236.42748.1Stonehill College 1090.01353.8Univ. of Massachusetts/ Amherst 1668.82035.0 Univ. of Massachusetts/ Boston 650.0Univ. of Massachusetts/ Dartmouth 650.0Univ. of Massachusetts/ Lowell 560.01376.9 Westfield State College 2748.13234.4Wheelock College 650.01250.0Worcester State College 1172.71560.0Unaffiliated candidates3560.04744.7 Mean55.653.6 Median 58.550.0Source: Adapted from Mass DOE, "Massachusetts Teach er Tests. Summary of Institution results for Second-Time Test Takers. Test Date: July 11, 1998. Test Summary."; (Available at http://www.doe.mass.edu/teachertest/)
14 of 19 As the data in Table 4 indicate, the mean p ass rate (unweighted average across institutions for which data were reported) among se cond-time MTT test-takers was over 50% on both the reading and writing tests. Though we do not show weighted results in Table 4, these data indicate that 160 of 282 or 57% of exami nees taking the reading test for the second time passed, and 207 of 400 or 52% of those taking the writing test passed. This indicates that the misclassification rate among those who "fa iled" the April tests was over 50% on both the reading test and the writing test. This seems e xtraordinarily high given that adults' basic skills in reading and writing are unlikely to chang e much over a three month-period (and as previously mentioned, candidates could not cram for the July test). Note, too, that the misclassification rate was higher on the reading te st than on the writing test-exactly what would be predicted from the results of our reliabil ity analysis, which showed the reading test to be less reliable than the writing test. page 1 | introduction | background | reliability & validity | interviews | conclusions | references What these results do not show, of course, is the rate of misclassification of those who passed the MTT tests. Nonetheless, it seems certain given the results of our analyses, that a substantial proportion of those who "passed" the MT T reading and writing tests by 10 to 20 points did so simply because of test unreliability. People who scored above 69 on the MTT reading and writing tests, and thus "passed" these tests in April did not have to retake them in July. Hence we have no direct way of estimating the false "pass" rate. But to get a rough idea of this kind of misclassification we examined the p ercentage of April examinees scoring in the 50-69 point range whose scores decreased. We fo und that some 4% to 10% of first-time test-takers in these score ranges had decreased sco res upon retest. Thus, a very conservative estimate of the percentage of April examinees who passed" simply because of measurement error would be 2% to 5%. Table 5: Passing Rates of Second-Time Test Takers R eported by DOE compared with Retest Sample Reported byMassDOEAdHocRetestSample InstitutionRdg NRdg % pass Wrtg N Wrtg % pass Rdg N Rdg % pass Wrtg N Wrtg % pass Boston College 785.7580.0683.3580.0Bridgewater State College4158.55955.24259.56056.7Framingham State College1631.31952.61631.31952.6Lesley College1266.71464.31266.71464.3Salem State College 1776.52676.92166.73479.4U. Mass/Boston650.0650.0Westfield State College 2748.13234.42748.13234.4Source: Adapted from Mass DOE, "Massachusetts Teach er Tests. Summary of Institution results for Second-Time Test Takers. Test Date: July 11, 1998. Test Summary". (Available at http://www.doe.mass.edu/teachertest/)
15 of 19 The data summarized in Table 4 also allowed us to check the findings from our testretest sample against passing rates reported by the DOE that are summarized in Table 5. This table presents the passing rates reported by the DO E with those apparent in our testretest sample. Note first that this table shows no results for Elms College; the DOE did not report any results for this institution because it had few er than five second-time test takers. For four of the remaining seven institutions, the sample siz es (Ns) and passing rates reported by the DOE are exactly the same as those in our test-retes t sample. For the remaining three institutions there are slight differences between r esults reported by the DOE and those apparent in our test-retest sample. For Boston Coll ege, the DOE reported seven second-time takers for the reading test, whereas we counted onl y six in our test-retest sample. We have examined the data for Boston College in detail and suspect that this discrepancy arises from an unusual case in which one student took the MTT i n April, and had an April writing test score reported, but had no April reading test score reported in results transmitted to Boston College. Thus, apparently this individual was count ed in the DOE results as a second-time test-taker, but was not included in our test-retest sample because no reading test score was reported for April. The other two institutions for which there are slight discrepancies are Bridgewater and Salem. In both cases, the Ns for th e test-retest sample are slightly higher than the Ns reported in DOE results. These differen ces apparently derive from the fact that the DOE results are reported only for individuals w hose institutional affiliation was verified by the institution by a particular date. The reason for the slightly larger Ns for Bridgewater and Salem is that the data provided to us apparentl y included a small number of cases that were treated as unaffiliated examinees by the DOE. Indeed, the DOE's policy of institutional a ffiliation of MTT test takers seems to be of doubtful merit and of changing meaning. In reportin g institutional results for the April, July, and October administrations of the MTT, the DOE has offered a number of slightly different "Interpretive cautions and notes." But in each inst ance, the first has read as follows: 1. Information regarding candidate institutional af filiation was obtained from candidates as self-reported information on the regi stration form during the test registration process. This information was forwarde d to institutions of higher education, which were provided with an opportunity to verify the candidates' institutional affiliation. The institutions were in formed that if they did not respond to the verification request as explained, t he data to be included in their results would be based on candidate-reported instit utional affiliation. The institutional results for the April adm inistration of the MTT were released under a memo from David Driscoll dated July 21, 1998. Toget her with institutional results for the July and October 1998 administrations, they are als o available on the DOE web site. When we examined results for April and July, we noticed that there was a sharp increase in the number of "unaffiliated" candidates, that is, ones whose affiliation was with institutions outside Massachusetts or was not verified by the in stitutions concerned. Hence, we used the data available from the DOE web site to calculate t he percentages of test-takers at each administration who were listed as "unaffiliated." A s the results in Table 6 show, between April and July there was a fourfold increase in the percentage of test-takers listed as unaffiliated. Table 6: First-time Test-Takers Listed as Unaffilia ted
16 of 19 MTT TestAPRILJULYOCTOBERReading227 / 1794= 12.7%891 / 1702= 52.4%778 / 1533 = 50.8% Writing227 / 1808= 12.5%898 / 1707= 52.6%783 / 1544 = 50.7%Sources:http://www.doe.mass.edu/teachertest/7981st.htmlhttp://www.doe.mass.edu/teachertest/summary498.html http://www.doe.mass.edu/teachertest/1098inst/1test. html (Data summarized in Table 6 were downloaded 1/5/99) One possible explanation for this sharp inc rease is that students enrolled in out-ofstate colleges were more readily able to come to Massachu setts to take the MTT in July than they were in April. This is not confirmed, however, by t he fact the proportion of first-time test-takers listed as unaffiliated remained very hi gh, more than 50%, in the October administration. Thus, what appears to have happened is that Massachusetts institutions of higher education with teacher preparation programs changed the manner in which they verified the affiliation of students after the firs t administration of the MTT. Indeed, on September 26, 1998, an article in the Boston Globe, "BU test to screen teacher hopefuls, disclaim failures," reported that Boston University had instituted a policy of not verifying students' affiliation with BU unless they had passe d a literacy screening test before taking the MTT (Zernike, 1998). What the BU policy and the fourfold increas e in the percentages of unaffiliated candidates indicate, however, is that even if the M TT test scores were reliable and valid, the DOE's practice of publishing "institutional" result s may be highly misleading unless some better and uniform methods of "verifying" candidate s' affiliation with institutions is developed. And even if that problem were solved, th e ranking of schools based on student test scores is of doubtful merit. Ranking schools and school districts (and e ven states and countries) on student test results seems to be increasingly popular with the m edia in recent years. This is both unfair and ineffective in improving education. It is unfai r for the simple reason that judging the effectiveness of educational institutions should be based not on end-of-school test scores, but on "value-added" as a result of experience in the s chool. If a value-added perspective is not adopted, then highly selective institutions (such a s Harvard, Boston College, and Boston University among teacher preparation institutions i n Massachusetts) may come out looking good in such rankings, simply because they only adm it students who are good test-takers to begin with, not because of how much students learn while attending them. And ranking of schools based on student tes t scores can be both unfair and ineffective unless attention is paid to not just test scores as "outcomes," but also to the educational processes that produced those outcomes. In recent y ears, for example, numerous cases have been revealed in which schools cheated on tests in order to make their rankings look better. And even absent such manipulation of test scores, l ack of attention to processes provides little leverage for improvement (Haney & Raczek, 19 93). The content validity of the Massachusetts Teacher T ests Validity refers to the appropriateness and meaningfulness of inferences drawn from test scores. As explained previously, three types of evi dence have been recognized in this connection; content-, criterionand construct-rela ted validity evidence. The Ad Hoc
17 of 19Committee originally intended to gather one form of criterion-related evidence, namely concurrent validity evidence that would compare sco res on the MTT with those on well-established tests for college graduates. Havin g failed to gather enough comparable scores to allow reasonable statistical analysis, we undertook the reliability studies described above. Our findings that the MTT reading and writin g tests are unreliable and have led to remarkably high rates of misclassification obviousl y cast doubt on their validity, but it is useful also to comment directly on the content and construct validity of the MTT tests. In general, content validity refers to whet her test questions cover the right material, that is some defined domain of content. For licensure an d certification tests, this translates into whether test questions clearly and correctly span t he domain of knowledge necessary to protect the public from people who are not competen t. Since competence in most professional fields is hard to define and measure p recisely, content validation studies of licensure and certification tests are usually based on the expert judgment of people in the field being tested. In the case of the MTT the rele vant fields were those of education and teaching. Typically in content validation studies, test developers ask practitioners to judge whether test questions are job-related and whether they match a particular content domain (often defined in terms of test objectives). Several Massachusetts officials have said p ublicly that such content validation studies have been done by panels of educators across the st ate in the development of the MTT. However, no relevant reports or documentation on th ese reviews have yet been released, even though the MTT have now been administered four time s. At the same time, a particular portion of t he MTT gives us pause about the way in which the content validation and job-relatedness studies have been used in the development of the new MTT. On the first MTT, administered in April 19 98, as part of the writing test, examinees were asked to transcribe a 156-word text drawn from the Federalist papers (written by James Madison in 1787) as the text was read three times by a narrator on audiotape. (According to an August 5 story in the B oston Globe, the dictation exercise was suggested by Massachusetts Board of Education membe rs Edward Delattre and John Silber; Hart, 8/5/98). It seems to us highly implausible that such an exercise would be judged a valid and job-related measure of writing competence by a majo rity of panelists reviewing content validity. Also, though we have reviewed more than 5 0 years of teacher competency testing in the United States (the NTE, for example was created in 1940; Haney, Madaus and Kreitzer, 1987), we have found no other instance in which a d ictation exercise has been used as a measure of teacher competence. How then could such an unusual exercise hav e shown up on the MTT? We cannot be sure. But it is worth noting that in the Alabama te acher testing case referred to previously (which is reproduced in part in appendix 2), Judge Myron Thompson found that on the Alabama Initial Certification Test "a significant n umber of items appearing on the examinations failed to reflect accurately the colle ctive judgment of curriculum committee members. In some cases changes to actual test items were not implemented. In other cases, items that had never been reviewed by a curriculum committee appeared on examinations. . [Also,] many items appeared on the examinations e ven after they had been rated content invalid by the requisite number of Alabama panelist s" (Richardson v. Lamar County Bd. of Educ. 729 F. Supp 806, 821-822). It may be recalled that the developer of the Alabama test is the same company that developed the MTT. The construct validity of the Massachusetts Teacher Tests
18 of 19 A third and more general form of validity e vidence of the meaning of test scores relates to the "constructs" that the scores represent. As t he 1985 Standards point out, "Substantial relationships of a test to other measures that are purportedly of the same construct and the weaknesses of relationships to measures that are pu rportedly of different constructs support the identification of constructs and the difference s among them" (AERA, APA & NCME, 1985, p. 10). In carrying out test-retest analyses, we we re surprised to find that in our sample of people who took the MTT in both April and July, the re was a correlation of less than 0.10 between MTT reading and writing test scores in both April and July (see Table 2). Since reading and writing are both verbal or literacy ski lls, we would expect to find substantial correlations between test scores of these related c onstructs. But, as we have noted, the test-retest sample was restricted (with one odd exc eption) to people who had failed either the reading or writing test in April. Thus the group of repeat testtakers represents a highly restricted or attenuated sample of MTT test-takers in general. To examine the relationship between MTT rea ding and writing scores on less restricted groups of test-takers, we returned to data obtained from for analyzing test-retest reliability. Several institutions had provided us with data on a ll of their students who had taken the MTT in April and in July. These data allowed us to exam ine the MTT Reading x MTT Writing correlations on larger samples than when we confine d ourselves to individuals who took the MTT in both April and July. Table 7 presents result s of these analyses. Table 7: Correlations of MTT Reading and Writing Sc ores April July Boston College0.42 (111) 0.20 (44) Lesley College0.56 (62) 0.65 (60) Westfield State0.57 (101) 0.50 (107) Total N 274211 Median r 0.560.50Note: Sample sizes shown in parentheses Note, first, that the correlations between MTT Reading and MTT Writing scores vary somewhat: from 0.42 to 0.57 for April and from 0.20 to 0.65 for July. Part of this is due surely to sample size. For example, the most anomal ous correlation in Table 7 is for Boston College for July test results (correlation of 0.20) Note, however, that for this sample, there was an N of only 44. If we consider only those case s in which N>100, we see a much more consistent pattern, with MTT Reading x MTT Writing correlations of 0.42, 0.50, and 0.57. This suggests that the average correlation between MTT Reading and MTT Writing test
19 of 19scores is about 0.50. This finding may be compared with previous research on the intercorrelations between measures of two verbal skills. Cronbach (1970), for example, reports that the Verbal and Spelling subtest scores on the General Aptitude Tes t Battery (GATB) correlate in the range of 0.66 to 0.72. Donlon reports that Test of Standard Written English (TSWE) scores correlate with SAT Verbal scores in the range of 0.76 to 0.80 and with SAT Reading scores in the range of 0.72 to 0.77 (Donlon, 1984, p. 81). Simila rly, Conrad, Trismen and Miller report that GRE Verbal and GRE Analytical scores for the s ame individuals correlate in the range of 0.76 to 0.77 (Conrad, Trismen & Miller, 1977, p. 19 ). Indeed, even SAT Verbal and SAT Mathematical scores have been found to correlate in the range of 0.64 to 0.72 (Donlon, 1984, p. 81). These comparisons cast considerable doubt o n the construct validity of the MTT Reading and Writing test scores, which correlate on ly in the range of 0.42 to 0.57, with an average correlation of about 0.50. Summary In sum, our results indicate that the MTT R eading and Writing test scores are unreliable and of doubtful validity. Specifically, we found th at the scores: Are unreliable as indicated by our calculations of test-retest reliability (in the range of 0.50 to 0.70); Contain almost two to three times the degree of err or as well-developed tests (with an error of measurement in the range of 9 to 17 points ); Have high rates of misclassification (as indicated by the fact that among those who "failed" either the MTT Reading or Writing test in April, more than 50% "passed" that test in July); Are of questionable content validity and doubtful c onstruct validity, as indicated by the low correlation (about 0.50) between reading and wr iting test scores. Why the MTT Reading and Writing tests are s o unusually unreliable and of such doubtful validity is the more mysterious because th e skills of reading and writing are ones for which many reliable and valid tests have been devel oped over many decades. There are many possible causes for the low reliability and apparen tly poor validity of the MTT tests. The problems may arise from test content, administratio n, scoring, scaling, equating or some combination of these factors. Fortunately, another aspect of inquiry by the Ad Hoc Committee offers insight into why these scores are of such low reliability and apparently poor validity.
1 of 6Interviews with MTT-Takers: Vignettes and Summary Several individuals who sent copies of thei r MTT score reports to the Ad Hoc Committee spontaneously offered us comments on the new MTT. For example, one woman wrote: After graduation from xx College--one of the best s chools in the area, ALL of my daughter's friends failed at least one sectio n of the MA test. Is something wrong with this picture? After a phone ch ain among many parents, we all agree there is a problem with the M A test, as these students did all pass required testing for other states. [Under line in original; name of College deleted to protect confidentiality.] Another correspondent wrote: My scores on the Praxis series earned me a license to teach Language Arts and Social studies to grades six through nine in No rth Carolina. Unfortunately, this was not enough to earn a reprie ve from the Massachusetts test. This is just one of the aspects of the test w ith which I take issue. One major problem with the Massachusetts Teacher Te sts is that there is no preparation offered. When I called to request infor mation on the test, I received a packet of test objectives for each of th e tests I was taking. This information was practically useless, as I still had no clue as to the format of the test. [Letter to the Ad Hoc Committee, dated Au gust 20, 1998.] In light of such comments, we contacted the first 15 test-takers who had sent us copies of their score reports, to ask whether they were be willing to be interviewed, on condition that we keep their identities confidentia l. All 15 agreed. The interviews focused on the current professional status of the teacher c andidates, sought their views on the administration and content of the MTT tests and ask ed about their attitudes toward testing and teaching. We gathered this information in telep hone interviews lasting between one half to one hour during November 1998. We took note s during phone conversations and elaborated them after the end of conversations. Typ ewritten accounts of each interview were then prepared, and results across interviewees were analyzed by looking for common themes and comments. Interview sample Although this was a small, self-selected sa mple, those who agreed to an interview represented a wide range of experiences. Of the fif teen, seven (47%) passed all three parts of the test (reading, writing, and subject area) on their first try, approximating the passing rate for the state overall. Two additional candidat es (13 %) passed both literacy sections, but failed their subject area tests. Five (33%) pas sed one portion of the literacy section only, with two of them also passing their subject a rea. Only one out of 15 candidates interviewed failed all three portions of the test.
2 of 6 The 15 candidates had college degrees from nine private and four public colleges and universities, with two unknown. Although most h ad received a first degree in 1998, several were teachers who had moved to Massachusett s after teaching in other states, and one had 20 years experience as a teacher. At the time of the interviews, eight of the fifteen were certified to teach in Massachusetts; eleven were certified in at least on e other state--including Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New Jersey, California, Georgia, Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Maryland, and Tennessee. To receive such certification, candidates typically had passed a required test. Ni ne of them had taken the National Teachers Examination (NTE), recently renamed and br oadened to become the Praxis. Others had taken specific state tests, the Graduate Record Examinations, or the Millers Analogies Test (MAT). Four took the MTT in April 1998, during the test's first administration. Nine took the MTT for the first time during the second round of testing, in July 1998. Two took it in October 1998. All candidates interviewed submitted scores for the morning two-part literacy portion of the test. Candidates also submi tted scores for elementary education (6), English (2), physical education (2), and general sc ience (1), physics (1), music (1), middle school (1), and special needs (1). Although a common rationale for teacher cer tification tests such as the MTT is that they will protect schools, parents and school child ren from incompetent teachers, the MTT tests did not prevent most teacher candidates i n the sample from securing work in some kind of teaching capacity. Regardless of wheth er they passed or failed the MTT, 12 of the 15 candidates interviewed currently work in public, private, parochial, and charter schools, both in and out of state. Of the seven candidates who passed the MTT, two are working in full-time teaching positions in Massachusetts public schools, while tw o are working in-state as long-term public school substitutes. Two more work as full-ti me teachers in public schools out of state. One candidate is not working by choice. Table 8: Current Employment Status of Interviewees PASSED MTT (n=7)FAILED MTT (n=8) Employment Status Full time Teacher Long Term Substitute Teacher's Aide Full time Teacher Long Term Substitute Teacher's Aide Employed in educationIn Mass.Public School22 1 Private School 1
3 of 6 Charter School 1 Out of StatePublic School21Private or parochialschool 2 Employed, not in education 1 Not employed 11 Of the eight candidates who "failed" the MT T, six are working in schools. One works full-time in a Massachusetts charter school; a second works as a teacher in a Massachusetts private school; and a third works in the Commonwealth as a full-time public school teacher's aide. Of the remaining four three work as fulltime teachers out of state, one each in a public, private, and paroch ial school. One candidate is working in the travel industry, and one is not working by choi ce. page 1 | introduction | background | reliability & validity | interviews | conclusions | references Vignettes Before summarizing the general findings fro m our 15 interviews, it is useful to provide vignettes of two candidates, to highlight t he diversity of candidates and their experiences. Pseudonyms are used in these vignettes to maintain our agreement of confidentiality with interviewees. (Note 9) "Peter McHugh" Peter McHugh recently graduated summa cum l aude with a 3.9 average and a major in physics from one of New England's top-ranked pri vate colleges. His scores on the Graduate Record Exam, as documented on score report s he sent us, were 650 on the GREVerbal, 750 on the GRE-Quantitative and 700 on the GRE Analytical. These scores correspond to the 91st, 89th and 86th percen tile among all those who took the GRE between Oct. 1, 1994, and September 30, 1997 (E TS, 1998). In contrast, he scored only 82 on the MTT Reading test. Since the DOE has issued no technical documentation on the MTT, we cannot be certain what percentile ra nking would correspond with a MTT Reading test score of 82; but on the basis of MTT s cores we have collected, we estimate that Peter would fall somewhere in the range of 80t h to 85th percentile on the MTT Reading test--obviously quite at odds with his perf ormance on the GRE, especially since the population taking the GRE is more selective tha n that taking the MTT.
4 of 6 Even before graduation from college, Peter was offered a job to teach at one of the country's outstanding high schools in a state that recognizes a Massachusetts teaching certificate as certifying eligibility to teach. Although a Rhode Island resident, Peter did practice teaching in Massachusetts schools and signed up to take the Massachusetts Tea cher Tests in April 1998 in the belief that the results would not "count" toward certifica tion. Less than two weeks before the test date, when he learned he would need to pass to receive a state teaching certificate, he threw all his energy into studying for the exam. Re viewing the test guide, he found one sample question for science, but nothing for physic s, and, although he was told he would receive a list of test objectives, he never receive d one. In the absence of any guidance to what he might encounter on the exam, Peter took the state's curriculum frameworks and studied "about 15 hours a day" for two weeks, devel oping his own study. Like some other candidates interviewed, Peter found testing conditi ons for the listening portion of the test "absolutely atrocious" and the clarity of direction s "not good at all." He explained: On the communication and literacy sections, sometim es you would have to write in the booklet and sometimes the answer sheet You'd go back and forth. It wasn't consistent. It was a disaster. The proctors didn't understand. It ended up being a student who figured it out and exp lained it to the rest of us for one section. This took about five minutes and y ou started the test pretty frazzled. Peter added, "I do remember leaving the tes t feeling that I didn't get to show I could read or write well." In the afternoon, Peter took t he physics portion of the exam. This time, his concerns were less about testing conditio ns and more about test content. Specifically, he found content that is not mentione d in the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks and that, in any event, he considered in appropriate for high school physics. He reported: There was content on semiconductors. There were gra phs and charts I was supposed to analyze, and I knew nothing about semic onductors. There were two 600-1000 word essay questions at the end. One w as appropriate; the second was on motors and generators. Most high scho ol textbooks have no more than a section on this. Until the morning of t he test, I had never studied motors. In most high school physics courses, you do n't get to this. The questions didn't accurately reflect what is covered in a high school physics course. The content went much beyond that. The last 25% of the test had content I had never seen before. I had to skip 7 or 8 questions because they were on concepts I had never seen in 14 college cou rses. I filled in the bubbles because there was no penalty for guessing. Peter is currently teaching at the out-of-s tate high school that hired him in May. He teaches two "Honors" and three "AP" physics classes He passed the literacy and communications portion of the MTT, but barely passe d the physics portion of the MTT. He said, "If I'd been just a little lower, who know s where I'd be now. I wouldn't have this job." "Allegra Karnofsky"
5 of 6 Allegra Karnofsky, a Connecticut resident, graduated in June 1998 from a nationally-known music college based at a private f our-year university out of state. Before taking the Massachusetts Teacher Test in Jul y, Allegra had passed the Reading, Writing and Math and Music Concepts and Content por tions of the Praxis, with scores required for certification in Connecticut and New J ersey. Allegra registered for the July test knowin g little more than what she had read in newspapers about the April MTT results. She reporte d, "What was nerve-wracking was having heard that so many people failed in April." Although the NES registration booklet noted that study guides were available, Allegra's m ultiple calls to the testing company and Department of Education did not produce such a guid e. Because Allegra had taken the Praxis test f or music teachers, she expected the MTT would test something about her teaching ability and was surprised at how little subject matter knowledge it covered. She said: There was a lot missing. There was some music theor y, but I felt I was taking a test of music history. I am a K-12 certified teac her in Connecticut, and nowhere do you teach music history unless it's at c ollege. The essay questions were very broad and open-ended, and both were music history -for example, compare a 20th century composer and an 18th century composer. But that's not music education, it's musi c history. Most content was on classical, and there were one or two questio ns on American jazz. As a music education teacher, I need to know about a l ot more than classical or jazz. There was no multicultural or world music, no Latin music. Allegra added, "It wasn't geared toward a teacher. That was what troubled me the most. The past two years have been devoted to music educa tion, not music history." Prior to the test, Allegra had heard about the dictation exercise on the MTT Writing test; nonetheless, she found it "terrible." She sai d, "The tape recording was the worst experience of my life. The tape recorder the procto r was given was poor quality. It was muffled." She added, "The dictation is strange in i ts own way. As a teacher, you don't have to take down what your students say." Allegra's passing scores on the Praxis allo wed her to become certified to teach in New Jersey, where she had done practice teaching, a nd in Connecticut, and she believes new teachers should have to pass a standardized tes t in order to teach. She said: I think all teachers should know their subject. In the Praxis test I took, you take one test, then schedule the computer-based tes ting when you wanted. I don't see what's wrong with the Praxis test. If Mas sachusetts went for the computer-based test, it would make so much more sen se instead of taking a paper-pencil test. Allegra passed the MTT Reading test with a score of 74, failed the MTT Writing test by one point, and with a score of 50 failed the Mus ic portion of the MTT by 20 points. Although she received tickets for a retest, the tic kets came with no cover letter or explanation, and she had to call the Department of Education to ask whether she had to pay again for the retest. At the time of the interview, Allegra was t eaching music at a private school in Massachusetts. Saturday classes have precluded her retaking the Massachusetts Teacher
6 of 6Test. When she called the Department of Education t o ask whether the tests would be given at a time other than Saturday, she was told t hat alternative provisions could be made for religious reasons only. In February 1999, Allegra will begin work as a longterm substitute for kindergarten through sixth grad e at a public school in Connecticut and look for a full-time job in that state. She says, I don't know if I'm interested right now in retaking the [Massachusetts] test. I can just go on my way in Connecticut." Summary of findings from interviews The two vignettes above recount how two ind ividuals experienced the MTT. These are only two of the 15 teacher candidates we interv iewed. We realize fully that a sample of 15 self-selected individuals provides an extreme ly limited base from which to try to generalize to the experiences of all candidates who have taken the MTT. But we think it useful nevertheless to summarize some of the themes that emerged from interviews as possible causes for the low reliability and poor va lidity of the MTT. (A more detailed account of what was learned from the interviews app ears in appendix 3.) Many of our interviewees were dissatisfied with the information available about the MTT. Among items mentioned were the lack of a study guide, confusion over whether the April results would "count" towards certificati on, lack of information about conditions of retesting, and lack of detailed feedb ack on strengths and weaknesses of initial test performance. A second theme among our small sample of in terviewees was the conditions under which the MTT were administered. Most candidates in terviewed found the general testing environment to be reasonable or on par with that of other tests taken. Nonetheless, close to half of them expressed concerns about the clarity of directions during MTT administration and about the conditions under which they performed the dictation exercise portion of the test. Virtually all candidates interviewed mentio ned the length of the MTT tests overall as excessive and believed that their 8-hour duratio n adversely affected their performance. Many compared the length of the MTT unfavorably wit h other tests they had taken and noted that the amount of writing required led to fa tigue. Teacher candidates interviewed also raised questions about the match between their "real-world" literacy skills and the test content i n both the literacy and subject matter portions of the MTT. Regarding the former, candidat es questioned the value of the dictation exercise and of specific questions, such as "Define a verb." As for the subject matter tests, interviewees expressed doubts about w hether the tests matched Massachusetts curriculum frameworks and whether the test content was a reasonable reflection of the demands of real-world teaching. S ome candidates interviewed also reported surprise that the MTT did not cover conten t they expected based on their experience taking other teacher tests, such as the Praxis or other states' teacher certification tests. Despite the range of concerns interviewees expressed, all agreed it was reasonable to ask teacher candidates to pass a test prior to certification. They were aware, as one put it, that "most of the professions have a test" and viewed testing one of the rites of passage into a profession. But in general, inter viewees reported that the MTT compared unfavorably with other teacher certificati on tests they had taken.
1 of 3Conclusions and Recommendations The Ad Hoc Committee was formed in the summ er of 1998 out of concern that important decisions were being based on the Massach usetts Teacher Tests (MTT) scores before any reasonable evidence had been produced co ncerning their reliability and validity. Since the DOE and NES have not made avail able any documentation on the reliability and validity of the MTT, in clear viola tion of professional standards concerning testing, and despite repeated requests f or such documentation, the Ad Hoc Committee set out to study the technical merits of the new tests. Our original idea was compare individuals' scores on the MTT with scores on post-collegiate tests (such as the Praxis and the GRE) on which technical documentatio n is available. Toward this end we invited people to send us score reports on both the MTT and other tests. As of December we had not received sufficie nt data to undertake a concurrent validity study, comparing MTT scores with those on established tests. But, in the meantime, we examined the reliability of the new te sts. Specifically, using data on over 200 individuals who took the MTT in April and July 1998 (generously provided to us by eight institutions of higher education in the Commo nwealth), we studied the test-retest reliability of the MTT. We found the correlations b etween April and July test to be extraordinarily low: about 0.30 for both the MTT Re ading and Writing tests. Test-retest correlation coefficients for well-developed standar dized tests typically range between 0.80 and 0.90. To examine the possibility that very low correlations were due to restriction of range (only people who scored below 70 on the April tests had to retake them), we corrected for attenuation due to restrict ion of range and estimated test-retest correlations for the unrestricted population of tes t-takers. The results indicated test-retest correlations of 0.50 to 0.70 -still well below th e reliability of well-developed tests. We used these results to estimate the error of measurement in MTT scores. We found that MTT scores contain unusually high levels of measurement error--with an error of measurement on the new tests in the range of 9 to 17 points. We estimate that MTT Reading and Writing test scores contain two to three times the degree of error as well-developed tests. Next, we compared pass and failure rates on the April and July administrations to consider the rates of misclassification on the MTT. Using both our test-retest sample, and a much larger sample of data reported on the DO E web site, we found that the MTT tests have very high rates of misclassification--as indicated by the fact that among those who "failed" either the MTT reading or writing test in April, more than 50% "passed" the test in July. Evidence suggests also that a fai r number of people who "passed" the MTT did so simply because of error in the tests. We also considered the content and construc t validity of the MTT tests. At least one portion of the MTT Writing test (the dictation exercise) raises doubts about the content validity of the MTT and specifically their job-relatedness. Moreover, when we examined the correlation between MTT Reading and Wr iting test scores, the resulting correlations of about 0.50 raise serious doubt abou t their construct validity. Previous research suggests that the scores for tests of two related verbal constructs correlate in the range of 0.65 to 0.80. Finally, we report on results of interviews with 15 candidates who took the MTT in April, July, or October (7 of whom passed and 8 fai led). Since this was a small and self-selected sample, results are merely suggestive But they indicate that the
2 of 3unreliability and poor validity of MTT scores may r esult from the lack of a study guide for the new tests, confusion over whether the April results would "count" towards certification, poor conditions of administration (i n at least some test sites), simple fatigue resulting from the 8-hour duration of the t ests, and test content. Although all those interviewed supported the idea of certificati on testing for teachers, as is common with other professions, many compared the MTT unfav orably with other teacher certification tests they had taken (e.g. the Praxis or NTE and certification tests in other states). Recommendations If the Commonwealth wants high standards fo r its teaching force, it must use assessments that meet similarly high professional s tandards. The current Massachusetts Teacher Tests fail to meet this criterion. Results from the April and July administrations of the MTT reveal that the new tests are so unrelia ble and of such poor validity that they are passing candidates who lack the knowledge and s kills the MTT are allegedly testing and failing many who do have these skills. Therefor e, the Ad Hoc Committee recommends that: The Massachusetts Board of Education immediately su spend administration of the MTT. No exam at all is better than an unreliable exam t hat may be mistakenly failing 50% of qualified preservice te achers while passing unknown numbers of unqualified ones. 1. The Commonwealth convene an independent panel of te sting experts to audit the development, administration and use of the MTT in light of both of professional standards for testing and the requirem ents of the Education Reform Act These experts should issue a report evaluating ho w well the first four administrations of the MTT meet accepted profe ssional standards. If they find that the MTT fails to meet these standards, they sh ould propose other approaches that will contribute to high-quality teaching in th e Commonwealth. 2. An investigation be launched into how and why the s tate has allowed the new MTT tests to be used. An independent investigation into this matter is es sential, since even before contracting with NES to develop t he MTT, the DOE knew that a federal court had found that same firm to have "vio lated the minimum requirements for professional test development" wit h its teacher certification tests for Alabama. That the DOE nevertheless proceeded to allow the new MTT tests to be used, in obvious violation of professional stand ards on testing, to make important decisions about individuals before the va lidity and reliability of the new tests had been documented, was a course of action s o imprudent as to call out for independent scrutiny. 3. As James Madison wrote in 1787, in the pass age candidates were asked to transcribe in the April 1998 version of the MTT, "N o man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause because his interest would certainly bias his judgment and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity." So too with organizations; the DOE, having implemented new teacher certification tests of undocumented validit y and reliability, should not be allowed to judge its own cause.
3 of 3NotesIn September 1998, the Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) announced that the name Massachusetts Teacher Tests (MTT) was being changed to Massachusetts Educator Certification Tests (MCET ), to reflect the fact that not just teachers but also other professional educators such as counselors and principals, would be required to pass the new exams However, throughout this report we refer to the Massachusetts Teacher Tests (MTT), since that is how they are most widely known. 1. These test standards have been developed by the Ame rican Educational Research Association (AERA), the American Psychological Asso ciation (APA) and the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) 2. Richardson v. Lamar County Bd. of Educ. 729 F. Supp 806, M. D. Ala. 1989, p. 821. A portion of this decision appears in appendix 2 of this report. 3. NES President William Gorth signed the contract on February 23, and then Commissioner of Education Robert Antonucci on Febru ary 26, 1998. 4. The most common approaches for estimating internal consistency are the Cronbach alpha and split-half techniques. 5. We are submitting this report for publication and w ill make available to other investigators the complete set of data on which our reliability analyses have been based, but with the identities of the institutions of higher education removed. 6. In the remainder of this section of this report, we focus on MTT reading and writing scores. Among the more than 200 candidates whose MTT scores we obtained, there were many different subject matter tests represented. Hence the sizes of samples for any one subject matter test we re much small than those for the reading and writing tests. 7. Here we should explain why we devoted considerable attention to these anomalous "outlier" scores. Such unusual cases can have a disproportionate impact on summary statistics, such as means, standa rd deviations and correlation coefficients. Deletion of one or two extreme cases can change the summary statistics. Hence, as we explain below, we report r eliability estimates not only for our entire test-retest sample, but also for a trimm ed sample from which outlier cases have been deleted. Therefore, in summary 8. Candidates whose experiences are described in these vignettes have given their consent to these descriptions. We note, however, th at specific details of their cases have been altered to protect their confidentiality. 9.
1 of 2ReferencesAmerican Educational Research Association (AERA), t he American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Council on Measu rement in Education (NCME) (1985). Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing Washington, DC: APA. Anastasi, Anne (1976). Psychological testing (4th Edition). New York: Macmillan. Conrad, Linda, Trismen, Donald and Miller, Ruth (Ed s.) (1977). Graduate Record Examination technical manual Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. Cronbach, Lee (1977). Essentials of psychological testing (3rd edition). NY: Harper & Row.Donlon, Thomas (1984). The College Board Technical Handbook for the Schola stic Aptitude Test New York: College Entrance Examination Board. Educational Testing Service (1998). GRE 1998-1999 Guide to the Use of Scores Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.Hambleton, Ronald K. (1999). Politicians fail, not the teachers. Education Connection (Winter issue), pp. 19-22.Haney, W., Ludlow, L., Raczek, A., Stryker,S. and J ones, A. (1994). Calibrating Scores on Two Tests of Adult Literacy: An Equating Study o f the Test of Adult Literacy Skills (TALS) Document Test and the Comprehensive Adult St udent Assessment System (CASAS) GAIN Appraisal Reading Test (Form 2) (Report prepared for the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation) Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College. Haney, W., Madaus, G. and Kreitzer, A. (1987), Char ms talismanic: Testing teachers for the improvement of American education. In E. Rothko pf (Ed.) Review of Research in Education Volume 14, pp. 169-238. Haney, W. & Raczek, A. (1993) Surmounting outcomes accountability in education Washington, DC: U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment. Hart, Jordana (1998). "The teachers test: Madison, via Silber." Boston Globe, 8/5/98, pp. A1 & A20Jackson, Bailey (1998). Letter dated September 18, 1998 to Dr. David P. Driscoll, Commissioner of Education (on behalf of the Commonw ealth Education Deans' Council).Linn, Robert (1983). Pearson selection formulas: Im plications for studies of predictive bias and estimates of educational effects in select ed samples. Journal of Educational Measurement 20:1, 1-16. Lord, F. and Novick. M. (1968). Statistical theories of mental test scores Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
2 of 2Madaus, G. (1998). Testimony on the testing portion of Governor's Bill (H. 5677). (Testimony before the Education Committee, Massachu setts House of Representatives. July 15, 1998).Pressley, Darrrell S. (1998). "Dumb struck: Finnera n slams 'idiots' who failed teacher tests." Boston Herald, 6/26/98 pp. 1, 28.Thorndike, Robert and Hagen, Elizabeth (1977). Measurement and evaluation in psychology and education (4th Edition). New York: Wiley.
1 of 4Appendix 1 The Massachusetts Teacher Tests: A Chronology7/85 The Massachusetts legislature passed a bill that, among other things, required candidates for teacher certification to pa ss a "standardized exam in his or her subject field [and] a standardized exam of comm unication and language skill" (MGL, 1985, Chapter 188, Section 15). 6/93 The Massachusetts legislature passed the Edu cation Reform Act of 1993 which included language that required candidates to pass tests, specifically "a writing and subject matter test," in order to be ce rtified. 10/96 The Board of Education had "an initial discus sion about implementing ... a two-part test for teacher certification .... The Commissioner [Robert Antonucci] recommended that the Board set October 1 1997 as the implementation date. The Board agreed to discuss th is further and take action at the November meeting" (Massachusetts Department of Education, Board in Brief, 10/24/96). 11/96 The Massachusetts Board of Education "voted t o endorse a recommendation by Commissioner Antonucci to require all candidates for teacher certification as of January 1, 1998 to pass a stand ardized test in communications and literacy skills and subject matter knowledge" ( Massachusetts Department of Education, Board in Brief, 11/21/96). The Board als o voted that Commissioner Robert Antonucci should "proceed at once with the s election of a test vendor with the aim of having the test available for review by the Board no later than October 1, 1997" (Massachusetts Department of Education, Vi deotape of Board Meeting of 11/18/96). 2/97 The DOE issued on 2/24/97 a Request for Respo nses (RFR) from prospective teacher certification test contractors. The RFR stated that vendors should describe in their bid 1) how they would deli ver a "technical report to the Department of Education following the use of each n ew form of the tests with a summary for public dissemination" (p. 15); and 2) t heir "plan for consultation with a technical committee of nationally recognized expe rts recommended by the Contractor (external to the Contractor's organizati on) ... The technical committee will review the test items, test administration, an d scoring procedures for validity and reliability and report its findings to the Depa rtment of Education" (p. 11). The RFR also asked bidding vendors to meet a timetable that included the following critical dates and events: 5/97-11/97 Advisory committees review sample test questi ons, scoring and evaluation criteria, and plan for quality control. Pilot tests conducted. 11/97 Test materials submitted to DOE for approval. 1/98-6/98 Monitoring of test quality and standardizatio n; reliability study due.
2 of 412/97 Commissioner Antonucci reported to the Board on 12/18/97 that he had selected National Evaluation Systems (NES) to devel op and administer the new tests, but some issues needed to be settled before executing a contract: "Issues still under discussion with the contractor include the te st administration schedule and, more importantly, ensuring that the test will be ri gorous and of high quality, based on college-level content" (Massachusetts Department of Education, Board in Brief, 12/15/97). 1/98 The DOE released a registration bulletin and an informational packet concerning these tests. The informational packet, t itled "Massachusetts Teacher Tests, Questions and Answers, January, 1998" stated the following: [Question] : If I am now enrolled in a teacher preparation pro gram, when should I take the tests?[Answer] : Candidates who expect to complete their teacher preparation programs by August 31, 1998 are encoura ged to take the teacher tests on either April 4 or July 11, 1998. C andidates who take the tests on these dates will satisfy the testing r equirement automatically. Candidates who take the tests beginn ing with the October 3, 1998 administration will be required to achieve a qualifying score in order to be certified" (p. 3). The official 1998-1999 Registration Bulletin also i nformed candidates that "no qualifying score will be established until after th e first two administrations of the tests ... Candidates who must take the tests and ar e eligible to participate in those first two administrations will satisfy the testing requirement by completing the tests" (p. 2). 1/98 The DOE mailed content validation surveys to school districts and teacher preparation programs asking teachers and pr ofessors to review and comment on test objectives for 31 different tests. Respondents were asked to complete and return these surveys by January 31, 19 98. 4,300 eligible respondents replied. 2/98 Educators participated in test validation con ferences for the MTT held on 2/10 and 2/12/98. Participants reviewed test bank i tems for: 1) match of item to test objective, 2) accuracy, 3) freedom from bias, and 4) job-relatedness (for Massachusetts teachers). 2/98 Robert Antonucci resigned the position of Com missioner and was later replaced by Frank Haydu as Interim Commissioner. 2/98 Approximately 1,500 college juniors and senio rs in the state's teacher preparation programs participated in pilot testing of new open-ended and multiple-choice questions for selected tests during the early part of February. 2/98 The DOE and NES signed a contract to have NES develop the MTT. William Gorth signed for NES on 2/23/98; exiting Co mmissioner Robert Antonucci signed for the DOE on 2/26/98. 3/98 The DOE issued a "Study Guide" that stated th e following: "This is a
3 of 4preliminary edition of the Massachusetts Teacher Te sts study guide. An expanded set of study guides, including sample questions and open-ended questions from each test field, will be available beginning in Aug ust 1998." 3/98 The DOE withdrew the study guide because the Written Mechanics Exercise, designed to assess candidates' knowledge of spelling, punctuation and capitalization, was changed. Originally, candidates were to be asked to fill in (three to five) missing portions of six different s entences that were printed in the test booklet. They were to do this as an audiotaped narrator read each sentence, several times over, in its entirety. For the April exam, however, candidates were asked to transcribe a 156-word text written by Jame s Madison in 1787. This text, part of the Federalist Papers, was read three times by an audiotaped narrator. (See copy of this text at the end of this chronology.) 3/98 In a reversal of previous policy, the DOE ann ounced on 3/25/98 that eligible candidates taking the April and July tests would no longer qualify automatically; instead, they would have to achieve a passing score to be provisionally certified. 4/98 The first round of tests were administered on 4/4/98. 4/98-7/98 Scoring panels met to recommend cut scores fo r every test. 6/98 The Board of Education voted on 6/22/98 to se t the cut score at 1 standard error of measurement below the scores reco mmended by the scoring panels. 7/98 The Board met again on 7/1/98, at the request of Acting Governor Cellucci, and voted to raise the cut score to the l evel originally recommended by the scoring panels. During this meeting, Frank Hayd u resigned the position of Commissioner of Education. David Driscoll was later named Acting Commissioner. 7/98 NES mailed score reports on 7/6/98 to April t est-takers. 7/98 The second round of tests were administered o n 7/11/98. The Ad Hoc Committee distributed flyers at five of the six tes t sites. 9/98 The DOE released a "Test Information Booklet" that contained a) sample questions from each section of the communications a nd literacy test; b) one sample multiple-choice question for just thirteen o f the (43) subject exams; c) one sample open-response item for just one subject exam ; and d) one sample oral expression and one sample written expression item f rom one (of the 7) foreign language exams. 9/98 The DOE announced that as of 9/30/98 the titl e of the educator certification testing program changed from Massachu setts Teacher Tests to Massachusetts Educator Certification Tests. 10/98 The third round of tests were administered on 10/3/98. The Ad Hoc Committee distributed flyers at all six test sites.
4 of 41/99 The fourth round of tests were administered o n 1/9/99. The Ad Hoc Committee distributed flyers at all six test sites. Candidates who sat for the first administrati on of the MTT on April 4, 1998, were asked to transcribe the following text written by J ames Madison in 1787. This exercise, which constituted the Written Mechanics section of the communications and literacy test, is intended to assess test-takers' knowledge of capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. An audiotaped narrator read the full text three times: "No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause b ecause his interest would certainly bias his judgment and, not improbab ly, corrupt his integrity. With equal, no, with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time. Yet, what are many of the most important acts of legislation but so many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concer ning the rights of large bodies of citizens? And what are the different clas ses of legislators but advocates and parties to the causes which they dete rmine? It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust t hese clashing interests and render them all subservient to the public good. The inference to which we are brought is that the causes of faction cannot be removed, and the relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its e ffects."
1 of 13Appendix 2 Richardson v. Lamar County Bd. of Educ. 729 F. Supp 806 (M. D. Ala. 1989) (Excerpted)United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Norther n Division. Nov. 30, 1989.MEMORANDUM OPINIONMYRON H. THOMPSON, District Judge.Plaintiff Alice Richardson, an African-American, ha s brought this lawsuit claiming that defendant Lamar County Board of Education [FN1] wro ngfully refused to renew her teaching contract in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. [FN2] Richardson charges the school board with two types of discrimination under Title VII. First, she asserts a claim of "disparate treat ment": [FN3] that the school board refused to renew her contract because of her race. Second, she asserts a claim of "disparate impact": that the board's stated reason for not renewing her contract--that she had failed to pass the Alabama Initial Teacher Cert ification Test--is impermissible because the test has had a disparate impact on Afri can-American teachers. The court's jurisdiction has been properly invoked pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-5(f)(3). FN1. Richardson has sued not only the Lamar County Board of Education but also its superintendent and members. However, because Richar dson may obtain full relief from the school board the court has not treated the boar d members and the superintendent separately from the school board.FN2. Title VII is codified at 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 2000e through 2000e-17. FN3. Richardson's disparate treatment claim is also based on 42 U.S.C.A. § 1981 and the fourteenth amendment, as enforced by 42 U.S.C.A § 1983, Jett v. Dallas Independent School District, 491 U.S. 701, 109 S.Ct 2702, 105 L.Ed.2d 598 (1989), with jurisdiction premised on 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 1331, 1343. Because a plaintiff must prove intentional discrimination to establish a dis parate treatment claim under § 1981, § 1983 and the fourteenth amendment as well as under Title VII, Stallworth v. Shuler, 777 F.2d 1431, 1433 (11th Cir.1985), and because Richar dson is seeking the same relief under all these statutory provisions, the court nee d not address separately her theories under §§ 1981, 1983, and the fourteenth amendment. The court also need not address whether Richardson has stated a cognizable claim un der § 1981. Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U.S. 164, 109 S.Ct. 2363, 105 L.E d.2d 132 (1989). Based on the evidence presented at a nonjury trial, the court concludes that Richardson may recover on her disparate impact claim but not o n her disparate treatment claim. The court's disposition of Richardson's disparate treat ment claim is simple and direct. The court simply applies the procedure set forth by the Supreme Court in Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 67 L.Ed.2d 207 (1981). The court's disposition of her disparate impact cla im is, however, much more difficult.
2 of 13The court first addresses and finds meritless two d efenses raised by the school board: that Richardson's disparate impact claim is barred by principles of collateral estoppel and res judicata; and that under the framework set forth in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228, 109 S.Ct. 1775, 104 L.Ed.2d 268 (1989 ), Richardson would not have been reemployed even if she had passed the state certifi cation test. The court then goes through a lengthy application of the disparate impa ct analysis outlined by the Supreme Court in Wards Cove Packing Co., Inc. v. Atonio, 49 0 U.S. 642, 109 S.Ct. 2115, 104 L.Ed.2d 733 (1989).I. BACKGROUNDRichardson taught in the Lamar County School System for three years, from 1983 to 1986. She was, however, unable to obtain a permanen t teaching certificate and therefore had to teach with temporary and provisional certifi cates. To obtain a permanent certificate, Richardson, like all other teachers in the state at that time, had to *809 pass the Alabama Initial Teacher Certification Test, whi ch consisted of a "core" examination and an examination aimed at the specific area in wh ich the teacher sought to teach. Richardson wanted to teach in the areas of early ch ildhood education and elementary education, and thus could meet the certification te st's specific area requirement by passing the examination in either area. Between 198 4 and 1986, Richardson failed the early childhood education examination twice and the elementary education examination three times.In the spring of 1986, the Lamar County Board of Ed ucation decided that the elementary school where Richardson taught should be consolidat ed with another school. Because fewer teachers would be needed, the school board in formed 15 nontenured teachers, including Richardson, that their contracts would no t be renewed for the 1986-87 school year. Four of the 15 teachers were, however, rehire d. Richardson, who would have acquired tenure if she had been rehired, was not on e of the four. Approximately a year later, in May 1987, this court enforced a consent decree requiring the State Board of Education to issue permanent tea ching certificates to a court-defined class of black teachers who had failed the state te acher certification test. [FN4] Richardson received her certification pursuant to t he consent decree. FN4. Allen v. Alabama State Board of Education, 816 F.2d 575 (11th Cir.1987) (directing district court to enforce consent decree ); Allen v. Alabama State Board of Education, Civil Action No. 81-697-N (M.D.Ala. May 14, 1987) (enforcing the consent decree).[NOTE: Omitted from this reproduction of Judge Thom psons opinion are several pages in which he discussed: II. DISPARATE TREATMENT CLAI M; and III. DISPARATE IMPACT CLAIM. The remainder of the opinion is repro duced in its entirety.]  Since Richardson has established that the earl y childhood education and elementary education examinations had an adverse racial impact the burden shifts to the Lamar County Board of Education to produce evidence of em ployment justification. An understanding of the history of the Alabama Initial Teacher Certification Test is important to determining whether the school board h as met its burden and, if so, whether Richardson has, in turn, shown that the school boar d's justification for the certification test has no basis in fact.
3 of 13a. History of the Early Childhood Education and Ele mentary Education ExaminationsIn 1979, amidst a national groundswell in favor of teacher competency testing, the Alabama State Board of Education placed development of a uniform certification test at the head of its agenda. It retained a professor at Auburn University to conduct a feasibility study regarding implementation of a tea cher testing program in Alabama; the state's Assistant Superintendent for Teacher Certif ication also participated in the study. After a rather cursory investigation, the two educa tors recommended implementation of a testing program similar to one designed by a priv ate test developer for the State of Georgia.The State Board agreed with the recommendation. In January 1980, it awarded a contract to the private test developer on a noncompetitive b asis. [FN29] While the board did not always express its purpose for imposing the test re quirement with perfect clarity, both the test developer and the board understood that th e test would measure whether a teacher possessed enough minimum content knowledge to be competent to teach in the classrooms of Alabama.FN29. Board members anticipated that the test requi rement would adversely impact against African-American applicants for teaching ce rtificates. However, the same decision would have been reached without considerat ion of that factor. The board's action was predicated on a legitimate concern for i mproving the quality of education in Alabama.The time frame for development of the Alabama Initi al Teacher Certification Test, as it came to be known, was quite short. The test develop er had one year to complete development and implementation of 36 separate exami nations. The test developer created a "core" examination and 35 additional exam inations that covered specific subject areas. As stated, a teacher had to pass the core examination and one subject area examination in order to receive certification.The Assistant State Superintendent, the sole rankin g state official charged with oversight of the private test developer's contract compliance had a doctorate in educational administration; but neither he nor anyone on his st aff had any expertise in test development. And no outside experts were retained t o monitor the test developer's work. The developer's work product was accepted by the st ate largely on the basis of faith. The test developer began by preparing a preliminary planning document. It next asked the State Department of Education to appoint Alabam a educators to the various committees and panels necessary for completion of t he project. According to criteria provided by the developer, these educators were sel ected to represent a fair cross section of persons from different geographic areas througho ut the state. They were also selected in such a way that AfricanAmericans and women wer e fairly represented overall; however, not all committees and panels had minority representatives. The test developer's technical staff and subject ar ea consultants then formulated topic outlines for the various examinations. They consult ed state education standards, state courses of study, materials related to Alabama's st udent competency tests, and examples
4 of 13of textbooks used in Alabama public schools. They a lso developed actual test objectives. These objectives were more explicit statements of c oncepts embedded in the topic outlines. The objectives were reviewed by the devel oper's editors and management. The developer's in-house work was far below average.*818 In October of 1980, approximately 200 Alabama educators attended a two-day conference to review the topic outlines and objecti ves for 36 examinations. They had previously been mailed orientation materials. After additional orientation, they were divided into curriculum committees to review the to pic outlines for comprehensiveness, organization, accuracy, and absence of bias. The co mmittees then reviewed the objectives to ensure that they matched the topic ou tlines. Taxonomic level, significance of content, accuracy, level of specificity, suitabi lity, and lack of bias were considered. Decisions were reached by consensus during both sta ges of review. Modifications and deletions were recorded by the test developer's per sonnel assigned to each committee. In some cases, however, the developer made additional changes, or ignored suggested changes, without obtaining clearance from committee members. No effort was made at any time to link the topic outlines and objectives to the state-mandated curriculum for teacher training programs.The test developer then sent a job analysis survey packet to approximately 3,000 in-service teachers throughout Alabama. The purpose of this survey was to determine the job relatedness of the test objectives. [FN30] However, in nine fields where there were fewer than 200 teachers throughout the state, the test developer's process resulted in very small response rates. The survey packet was sent to persons certified and teaching in specific content areas. The packet incl uded a set of objectives for that content area, a survey form, and a set of instructi ons. The teachers were asked whether they had taught or used each objective in the past two school years. If the answer was yes, they were asked to rate the objective in terms of time and essentiality. The scales used to record those responses were balanced in fav or of indicating that an objective was job related, and teachers were instructed to resolv e doubts in favor of job relatedness. The results of the job analysis survey were tallied in such a way that responses from only those who indicated that an objective had been used in the last two years were reflected in the data. Those who indicated that an objective had not been used were ignored. FN30. A stratified random sampling technique was em ployed to select survey respondents and a fair cross section of teachers wa s generally achieved. In January of 1981, the curriculum committees met f or a second time. They were provided results from the job analysis survey and w ere asked to determine which objectives should generate questions to appear on t he examinations. This step was called "objective selection." The survey results were a ma jor determinant of which objectives were ultimately selected.The test developer then prepared a "blueprint" for each examination. These blueprints specified the number of test questions, or items, n ecessary to measure each objective. Test items were drafted by the test developer's con tent area consultants and edited by its staff. Again, the developer's inhouse work was fa r below average. In March of 1981, the test items were reviewed by A labama curriculum committees for "item/objective" match, significance of content, ac curacy, clarity, and absence of bias. This "item review" process lasted for two days. Com mittee revisions were recorded by
5 of 13the test developer's personnel. However, in some ca ses, the developer ignored the suggested changes, or made additional recisions, wi thout consulting committee members for approval. In other cases, the developer simply added new items that had never been reviewed by committee members. As many as 20 items for each 120-question examination fell into one of these categories.In late April of 1981, the test developer convened a separate group of educators to review the test items once again for content validi ty. The purpose of this session, which lasted one day, was to provide an independent check against the judgments already rendered by the previous committees of Alabama educ ators. The new panelists reflected a fair cross section of persons in their field and were qualified to make content validity judgments in their *819 field. Each educator worked separately, but votes were tallied as if educators had served on a committee. After orien tation, the educators were asked to judge whether each item matched its objective, was accurate, was free of bias, and was not tricky, misleading, or ambiguous. If the item m et these criteria, the item was rated content valid by that judge. If the item was deemed invalid, the judge's reason for rejecting that item was recorded. The test develope r compiled these content validity ratings; a level of agreement among judges greater than 50% was required for an item to be deemed content valid. While a majority of items appearing on the final test instruments reflected the judgment of Alabama educa tors that those items were content valid, a significant number of items appearing on t he tests did not reflect that judgment. These included those items that had been revised by the developer without obtaining clearance from the panelists. [FN31]FN31. The test developer did not convene separate p anels of minority educators at any stage of the item review or content validity proces s to screen items for possible bias. The judges were also asked to make cut-score decisi ons for those items they had rated content valid. For these items, and those items onl y, judges were asked whether a teacher with minimum content knowledge in the field should be able to answer the item correctly. A yes-no response was requested. Judges were disqualified from making that same cut-score determination for any item they had previously rated content invalid. In essence, their expert judgment as to those items wa s ignored. The test developer then assembled and produced the actual test instruments for all 36 examinations. Each examination had 100 items tentat ively designated as scoreable and 20 items tentatively designated as nonscoreable. Th e examinations were first administered to a group of actual candidates. The t est developer had originally contemplated a separate field tryout, but time cons traints prohibited such a course. After the first administration, the developer examined it em statistics to flag problem questions. Based on this item analysis, it selected 100 scorea ble items and 20 nonscoreable items for each examination. The developer did not conduct empirical bias studies to determine whether the difficulty of items varied according to the race of examinees. The test developer then set a minimum cut score for each examination. The developer's original plan was to take the panelists' cut-score ratings and subject them to a 10% non-cumulative binomial algorithm. This level of ag reement among judges would then determine the minimum cut score. However, the devel oper's procedure yielded cut scores that were so astoundingly high that they sig naled, on their face, an absence of correlation to minimum competence. For example, of the more than 500 teachers who took the first administration of the core examinati on, none would have passed if the
6 of 13original cut-score methodology had been followed.Faced with this problem, the test developer made va rious mathematical "adjustments" to the original cut score. First, the developer applie d a 10% cumulative binomial algorithm. When the cut scores still remained too high, it app lied a 5% cumulative binomial algorithm. This process of applying successively st ricter algorithms was referred to at trial as a "binomial twist." The developer engaged in this process without consulting the State Department of Education or any Alabama educat ors. In two fields--that of Music and that of Speech, Communication, and Theatre--the 5% binomial twist yielded cut scores that were much too low. The developer simply applied a different mathematical algorithm to those examinations; again, the develop er consulted no one. For all special education and school counseling examinations, the d eveloper recommended a uniform cut score cap of 80 to the State Department of Educ ation. This recommendation was based on the developer's experience in the Georgia testing program. However, in Georgia, the decision to place a cap on cut scores was reached by state officials in conjunction with Georgia educators. [*820 FN32]FN32. Although the cut scores in the special educat ion area were intended to serve as an upper limit, the cut scores on five of those examin ations were actually raised to 80 to achieve uniformity.The State Department of Education was then given th e option of dropping the cut scores, as set by the developer, by two or three standard e rrors of measurement (SEM's). It was clear at that time that cut scores, even after the various adjustments catalogued above, were not measuring competence. For example, even af ter the developer's 5% binomial twist, 78% of the teachers taking the first adminis tration of the core examinations would have failed. The same would have been true for 93% of those taking the school counseling examination, 89% of those taking the lea rning disability examination, and 97% of those taking the library media examination. Instead of challenging what the developer had done, the state simply dropped the cu t scores three SEM's in order to arrive at a "politically" acceptable pass rate. In so doing, the state knew that the examinations were not measuring competency.In 1982, the test developer formulated nine additio nal examinations. Its test construction procedures and quality of execution were essentiall y the same, with the following exceptions. First, the developer's job analysis sur vey form contained a rating scale with additional errors. Second, a more restrictive binom ial table was used to calculate agreement among panelists on content validity quest ions. Third, a more accurate cut-score methodology was employed.In 1983, the developer conducted a "topicality revi ew" to update ten of the examinations already in use. A curriculum committee performed it em and objective review. The committee's tasks were to determine whether items h ad become stale because of changes in the teaching field and to identify problems with items by reference to item statistics for the first eight administrations of the certific ation test. On average, 50% of the items in any given examination were replaced or revised. The developer did not convene a separate panel, as it had during the initial test d evelopment, to provide an independent screen for content validity, nor was an independent cut-score panel convened. The curriculum committee provided ratings used to set c ut scores. b. Validity of the Early Childhood Education and El ementary Education
7 of 13ExaminationsThe Lamar County Board of Education contends that t he state teacher certification test was designed to determine whether a teacher is comp etent to teach in Alabama's classrooms. Richardson claims, as stated, that the early childhood education and elementary education examinations were invalid, tha t they did not measure competency. Generally, validity is defined as the degree to whi ch a certain inference from a test is appropriate and meaningful. APA Standards at 94. [F N33] It is suggested that validity evidence must necessarily be restricted to success on the job; and, to be sure, there are Title VII decisions that have approached the questi on of validity by asking whether a given score on a test yields an appropriate and mea ningful inference about successful performance on the job. See, e.g., Contreras v. Cit y of Los Angeles, 656 F.2d 1267, 1271-1272 (9th Cir.1981), cert. denied, 455 U.S. 10 21, 102 S.Ct. 1719, 72 L.Ed.2d 140 (1982); Guardians Association of New York City Poli ce Dept., Inc. v. Civil Service Commission, 630 F.2d 79, 91 (2d Cir.1980), cert. de nied, 452 U.S. 940, 101 S.Ct. 3083, 69 L.Ed.2d 954 (1981). However, there is no magic t o using success on the job as an anchor point for validity. Success on the job is ju st one of many constructs that a test can measure. Thus, a sound inference as to a different construct, such as minimal competence, may also form the basis for a finding o f validity. In short, a test will be valid so *821 long as it is built to yield its inte nded inference and the design and execution of the test are within the bounds of prof essional standards accepted by the testing industry. APA Standards at 9; cf. Washingto n v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 247 & n. 13, 96 S.Ct. 2040, 2051 & n. 13, 48 L.Ed.2d 597 (19 76) (validity need not be limited to inference about success on the job).FN33. The term APA Standards is a shorthand referen ce for the American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Associ ation, National Council on Measurement in Education, Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (1985). In order to be valid, a licensure or certification test must support the inference that persons passing the test possess knowledge necessar y to protect the public from incompetents. APA Standards at 63. Part of an appro priate validation strategy for licensure and certification tests is to define clea rly and correctly the domain of minimum content knowledge necessary for competence. The tes t domain, once defined, must then be translated into actual test questions that measu re competence. At all stages, validity flows from the expert judgment of practitioners in the field being tested. The test developer's role is to employ professionally accept ed practices that accurately marshal the expert judgment of those practitioners. When th e questions on a given test actually measure what practitioners in the field consider to be content knowledge associated with competency, the test instrument is held to possess content validity. However, mere content validity does not alone establish test vali dity. No matter how valid the test instrument, an inference as to competence or incomp etence will be meaningless if the cut score, or decision point, of the test does not also reflect what practitioners in the field deem to be a minimally competent level of performan ce on that test. Again, the test developer's role in setting a cut score is to apply professionally accepted techniques that accurately marshal the judgment of practitioners.In assessing the overall validity of the Alabama In itial Teacher Certification Test, the court must therefore address both content and cut-s core validity. The test developer
8 of 13retained by the State Board of Education followed a multistep procedure to build 36 teacher certification examinations in 1981. With mi nor variations, it followed the same procedure when it built nine additional examination s in 1982. The developer then applied a third procedure when it revised ten exami nations in 1983. The content validity of each of these examinations turns on whether the developer's procedures were adequate, or were outside the bounds of professiona l judgment. For reasons that follow, the court concludes that the developer's procedures violated the minimum requirements for professional test development. Accordingly, non e of the examinations, including the early childhood education and elementary education examinations, possesses content validity.The test development process was outside the realm of professionalism due to the cumulative effect of several serious errors committ ed by the developer when it formulated the 45 examinations in 1981 and 1982. Fi rst, while practicing teachers were asked to offer their judgment about the job related ness of test objectives, it is clear that the test developer's survey instrument distorted th at judgment. Scales were balanced in favor of finding job relatedness and respondents we re specifically instructed to resolve all doubts in favor of job relatedness. Moreover, t he response of those teachers who indicated that they had not used an objective was i gnored. Second, Alabama educators serving on curriculum com mittees selected test objectives based on those survey results. It has been suggeste d that the survey was used only in an advisory capacity and that any survey errors were o ffset by the overall judgmental process undertaken by committee members. However, i t is plain that the survey was conducted to solicit critical firsthand knowledge f rom in-service teachers. It is equally plain that curriculum committee members, aware that the survey had been conducted for that purpose, took the survey results quite serious ly. The court concludes that the overall judgmental process for determining job relatedness of test objectives was distorted significantly by survey error.Third, a significant number of items appearing on t he examinations failed to reflect accurately the collective judgment of curriculum co mmittee members. In some *822 cases, changes to actual test items were not implem ented. In other cases, items that had never been reviewed by a curriculum committee appea red on examinations. It is suggested that, in any testing program of this size a certain number of errors of this type will be found. The court agrees with this propositi on in principle; however, the evidence reflects that the error rate per examination was si mply too high. Fourth, Alabama educators were never asked to deter mine whether the test items themselves were job related, even though such an ap proach is standard practice in the testing industry.Fifth, many items appeared on the examinations even after they had been rated content invalid by the requisite number of Alabama panelist s. It is suggested that, before any such item appeared on a final test form, it was rev ised by the test developer, and that all revisions were approved by Alabama panelists. Howev er, neither the State Board of Education nor the test developer produced any docum entation of this alleged revision and approval process. Moreover, not a single paneli st was called at trial to confirm that the process had actually occurred. The court finds that no such process occurred and that the test developer simply substituted its own judgm ent for that of Alabama educators.
9 of 13In 1983, the test developer conducted a topicality review for ten of the examinations already in use. It is suggested that, even if those ten examinations were previously content invalid, they gained content validity by wa y of the topicality review process. The court does not agree. The topicality review process resulted in changes to, or replacement of, only about 50% of any given examina tion's 120 items. Items that were not revised or replaced therefore remained just as invalid as they were at birth. Moreover, as to items that were revised or replaced there was no separate content validity determination. The court agrees with Richa rdson's experts that, on balance, these two factors rendered the ten examinations sub jected to the 1983 topicality review to be content invalid as well. [FN34]FN34. The court does not agree that the test develo per's multi-step test development process was inherently self-correcting. There is su bstantial support in the record for the view that errors at one step not only survived the next step, but also created new errors. Moreover, the fact that a validity study for the Na tional Teachers Examination was upheld in United States v. South Carolina, 445 F.Su pp. 1094 (D.S.C.1977), aff'd 434 U.S. 1026, 98 S.Ct. 756, 54 L.Ed.2d 775 (1978), doe s not mandate the same result here. The validity of the present examinations must be as sessed on the basis of evidence now before the court. Cf. York v. Alabama State Board o f Education, 581 F.Supp. 779, 786 (M.D.Ala.1986) ("tests are not valid or invalid per se ...; the fact that the validity of a particular test has been ruled upon in prior litiga tion is not necessarily determinative in a different factual setting").Richardson advances an array of challenges to the c ut-score methodology employed by the test developer. It is clear that, as to the 35 examinations developed in 1981, the cut scores bear no rational relationship to competence as that construct was defined by Alabama educators. [FN35] The *823 evidence reveals a cut-score methodology so riddled with errors, that it can only be characteri zed as capricious and arbitrary. There was no wellconceived, systematic process for esta blishing cut scores; nor can the test developer's decisions be characterized as the good faith exercise of professional judgment. The 1981 cut scores fall far outside the bounds of professional judgment. FN35. The court must point out that three of Richar dson's arguments with respect to the 1981 cut scores clearly lack merit. First, she asse rts that Nassiff's 1978 "Two-Choice Angoff" method for yielding an original cut score w as and is "without professional endorsement." However, professional literature publ ished well before the initiation of Alabama's testing program endorsed methodologies si milar to Nassiff's approach. See R. Thorndike, Educational Measurement at 514-515 (1971 ). Moreover, while current professional literature does not grant Nassiff's me thod the highest possible marks, it certainly does not condemn it as being wholly outsi de the bounds of professional judgment. See Berk, A Consumer's Guide to Setting P erformance Standards on Criterion Referenced Tests, 56 Rev. of Educ. Research 137, 14 8 (1986). Second, Richardson contends that Nassiff's method was largely unproven and that an alternative cut-score methodology should have been used at the same time as a backup. While the court agrees that this might have been advisable, there i s no evidence that the failure to use a backup cut-score method was unprofessional. Third, Richardson argues that the test developer's recent adoption of a more sophisticated cut-score methodology signals the bankruptcy of Nassiff's 1981 method. The court does not agree. The fact that, with new developments in the field, the test developer later changed its methodology should not
10 of 13be held against it as an admission of error.First and foremost, it is undeniable that cut score s for the 35 examinations developed in 1981 do not reflect the judgment of Alabama educato rs who served as panelists on the minimum cut score committees. This is a crucial err or, because competence to teach is a construct that can only be given meaning by the jud gment of experts in the teaching profession. Here, expert panelists who rated an ite m invalid as to content were automatically disqualified from going on to indicat e whether that item should be counted toward the minimum cut score. This means that when a panelist indicated that an item should be excluded--because it contained inaccurate content, did not measure an objective, was tricky, ambiguous, or misleading, or was biased--that panelist's opinion was ignored for purposes of determining whether the item measured competence and should contribute to the cut score. The exclusion o f such opinions resulted in a series of cut scores that reflected a distorted notion of com petence. Second, the court has no doubt that, after the resu lts from the first administration of those 35 examinations were tallied, the test develo per knew that its cut-score procedures had failed. The proof of this fact is that none of the more than 500 teachers who took the first administration of the core examination would have passed if the original cut score, calculated according to the developer's original pl an, had been utilized. The court cannot conclude that all Alabama teachers who took that ex amination were totally and completely incompetent. It follows, therefore, that the developer knew that its cut-score procedure had utterly failed to reflect a valid con struct of competence. Third, instead of notifying the State Department th at its cut-score procedure had malfunctioned, the test developer attempted to mask the presence of system failure by making various unilateral mathematical "adjustments to the original cut score until an "acceptable" score had been reached. The most commo n adjustment was application of a "binomial twist" to the data collected from Alabama educators. This adjustment tended to lower cut scores. It is argued that lowering cut scores offset any system failure that might have occurred previously. This argument, howe ver, misses the mark. The critical factor with respect to cut-score validity is not wh ether there was a net change in cutscore level, but whether the cut score itself accur ately reflected the expert judgment of Alabama educators about whether examinees possess t he competence to teach. This construct of competence cannot be guessed at by out -of-state test makers. It is also argued that the developer's resort to the "binomial twist" was an exercise of "tempered judgment" in light of actual examination data. Agai n, however, the fatal error is that it was the developer, and not Alabama educators, that exercised this judgment. [FN36] FN36. It is argued that the binomial twist was, in fact, implemented in consultation with the State Department of Education, and that such co nsultation somehow injects the judgment of Alabama educators into the cut-score pr ocess. However, the evidence is clear that the developer never consulted any offici al at the State Department of Education with respect to the binomial twist. In fa ct, the State Department was not advised of that twist until shortly before trial.Fourth, in two fields--that of music, and and that of speech, communication and theatre--the 5% binomial twist yielded cut scores t hat were much too low. In those areas, the developer simply applied a different mathematic al algorithm to arrive at an acceptable cut score. Again, the developer substitu ted its judgment about competence for that of Alabama educators.
11 of 13Fifth, for all special education and school counsel ing examinations, a uniform cut score of 80 was adopted. To be sure, the *824 State Depar tment of Education made this decision, based on a policy judgment that no score should exceed 80. However, it is clear that the developer played an advisory role in that decision and that its advice was completely irresponsible. The developer recommended holding the scores at 80 based on its experience in the Georgia testing program. Howe ver, in Georgia, the decision to place a cap on cut scores was reached by the State Depart ment of Education in conjunction with Georgia educators. The test developer never su ggested that the State Department consult Alabama educators, and there is no evidence that such consultations in fact occurred. In effect, the developer assumed that the judgment of Georgia educators in a different testing program would be good enough for the people of Alabama. Once again, cut scores bore no relation to the expert judgment of Alabama educators. Moreover, if the rationale for adopting a cut score of 80 was to place a cap on such scores, it is difficult to understand why the cut scores for five special education examinations were actually raised to 80.Sixth, the State Board did not drop the cut scores, as set by the developer, to advance bona fide psychometric or policy purposes. The boar d did not drop the scores three SEM's to account for measurement error; the develop er recommended a drop of only two SEM's for that purpose. Nor were scores dropped three SEM's to reduce adverse impact against blacks; the State Assistant Superint endent in charge of the certification test was vehemently opposed to taking race into acc ount in setting the cut scores. Finally, while cut scores may have been lowered by three SEM's in part for the permissible purpose of maintaining an adequate teac her supply, the court is convinced that the primary purpose for dropping three SEM's w as to mask the obvious system failure generated by the developer's cut-score meth odology. For example, even after the developer's binomial twist, 78% of the teachers tak ing the first administration of core examinations would have failed, and the same would have been true for 93% of those taking the school counseling examination, 89% of th ose taking the learning disability examination, and 97% of those taking the library me dia examination. It is apparent that these pass rates did not reflect a fair construct o f minimal competence. Further adjustments were employed to back into a passing ra te that would appear tolerable and reasonable. The State Board of Education and the te st developer in effect abandoned their cut-score methodology, with the result that a rbitrariness, and not competence, became the touchstone for standard setting.The court would be inclined to uphold the cut-score procedures employed for the nine examinations developed in 1982 and the ten examinat ions subjected to topicality review in 1983; however, each of these examinations has al ready been shown to be content invalid. Since a valid cut score cannot be generate d by items that lack content validity, the validity of the cut-score procedure itself is n ot enough. Accordingly, the cut scores for the 1982 and 1983 examinations are also invalid In reaching the above conclusions, the court has be en sensitive to a number of factors. First of all, as stated earlier, close scrutiny of any testing program of this magnitude will inevitably reveal numerous errors, and these errors will not be of equal footing. Secondly, cut scores cannot be determined with math ematical certainty, and political considerations may properly enter into cut-score de cisions. The court's task therefore is to assess the sum gravity of the defects found, and to determine whether, as a result of these defects, the examinations are invalid as to c ontent and cut scores. The court
12 of 13recognizes that, in carrying out this task, it must proceed with caution, and even deference. Although the court must assess the credi bility of testimony advanced by each side and arrive at an independent judgment, the cou rt should not readily set aside the findings of those who developed a test; the mere fa ct that the court sees things differently should not, by itself, be considered su fficient to impeach such findings. But while a court should eschew an idealistic view of t est validity, it should also be careful not to apply an "anything *825 goes" view. In other words, the mere presence of conflict in expert testimony does not prove that a test fail s to meet minimum standards; nor does it prove that a test meets such standards. A court should find a test invalid only if the evidence reflects that the test falls so far below acceptable and reasonable minimum standards that the test could not be reasonably und erstood to do what it purports to do. The court is convinced that this was the case with the Alabama Initial Teacher Certification test, and in particular with the earl y childhood education and elementary education examinations. [FN37]FN37. The court recognizes that it has focussed not so much on the early childhood education and elementary education examinations, bu t on the Alabama Initial Teacher Certification Test as a whole. The court has done t his because the history of the two examinations challenged by Richardson is the same a s the history of the teacher certification test as a whole; the conclusions reac hed by the court regarding the certification test are also applicable to the two c hallenged examinations. Moreover, in order to appreciate fully the invalidity of the two challenged examinations, one must also understand just how bankrupt the overall methodolog y used by the State Board and the test developer was. The court also recognizes that it has focussed on t he development and implementation of several individual examinations which have not been challenged by Richardson. The court has included these examinations as additional evidence of the invalidity of the State Board and test developer's overall methodolog y. IV. RELIEFSince Richardson is entitled to prevail on her disp arate impact claim, the court must now determine her relief. The court will require that t he Lamar County Board of Education reemploy Richardson as an elementary school teacher at a salary and with such employment benefits and job security as would norma lly accompany the position had she been employed in the school system since 1983. The court will also require that the school board pay her all backpay and other employme nt benefits she would have received had the school board reemployed her for th e 1986-87 school year. The court will also require that the school board pay reasona ble attorney's fees to her attorney. 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-5(k). The court will give Richards on and the school board an opportunity to agree, between themselves, to the ap propriate amount of attorney's fees, present pay, backpay, and other employment benefits to which Richardson is entitled. If the parties are unable to agree, the court will the n set these matters down for a hearing. An appropriate judgment will be entered.JUDGMENT AND INJUNCTIONIn accordance with the memorandum opinion entered t his date, it is the ORDER, JUDGMENT, and DECREE of the court:
13 of 13That judgment be and it is hereby entered in favor of plaintiff Alice Richardson and against defendants Lamar County Board of Educat ion and its superintendent and members; 1. That it be and it is hereby DECLARED that plaintiff Richardson may recover on her "disparate impact" claim but not on her "dispar ate treatment" claim against defendants Lamar County Board of Education and its superintendent and members; 2. That defendants Lamar County Board of Education and its superintendent and members, their officers, agents, servants, employee s, attorneys, and those persons in active concert or participation with them who re ceive actual notice of this injunction by personal service or otherwise, be and they are each hereby ENJOINED and RESTRAINED from failing to reemploy fo rthwith plaintiff Richardson as an elementary school teacher in the L amar County School System at a salary and with such employment benefits and j ob security as would normally accompany the position had she been employed in the school system since 1983; 3. That plaintiff Richardson be and she is hereby awar ded from defendants Lamar County Board of Education and its superintendent an d members all backpay and other employment benefits she would have received h ad said defendants not illegally refused to reemploy her; 4. That plaintiff Richardson and defendants Lamar Coun ty Board of Education *826 and its superintendent and members be and they are hereby allowed 21 days from the date of this order to file a request for the co urt to determine the appropriate amount of present pay, backpay and other employment benefits to which plaintiff Richardson is entitled, should the parties be unabl e to agree to these matters; 5. That plaintiff Richardson be and she is hereby allo wed 28 days from the date of this order to file a request for reasonable attorne y's fees; and 6. That all other relief sought by plaintiff Richardso n that is not specifically granted be and it is hereby denied. 7. It is further ORDERED that this court retains juris diction of this case until further order. It is further ORDERED that all costs of these proce edings be and they are hereby taxed against defendants Lamar County Board of Education and its superintendent and members, for which execution may issue.The clerk of the court is DIRECTED to issue a writ of injunction.
1 of 9Appendix 3 Summary of Results of Interviews with ExamineesOur interviews with fifteen candidates who had sent us copies of their MTT score reports yielded background on the information avail able to test takers, administration of the test, including testing conditions, test conten t, test length, and test-takers attitudes about testing requirements for professional certifi cation. In part 4 of this report, we summarized the nature of candidate views on these t opics. Here we provide more detail on what was said by how many of our sample of 15.Information available to test takersAccording to teacher candidates interviewed, neithe r the testing company, National Evaluation Systems (NES), nor the Massachusetts Dep artment of Education, provided adequate information about the test prior to admini stration. Regardless of whether they took the MTT in April, July or October, not one of the 15 teacher candidates interviewed reported receiving any useful information (or infor mation they considered useful) from the Department of Education. Nine (60%) saw no stud y guide at any time. Two July testtakers called the Department of Education repeatedl y and still failed to receive any information. Others reported receiving information that was misleading or inadequate, either regarding the consequences of the test or ab out test content or format. Candidates reported that when they called the Massa chusetts Department of Education, they were told no study guide was available. Of the candidates interviewed, all who contacted the DOE found that contact unsatisfactory They described this contact and the information provided on the test as "not particular ly helpful," "not readable," "vague" and "very limited."Information for first-time test-takersApril test-takers registering for the test believed that test results would not "count" toward certification in Massachusetts. They reporte d that their colleges and universities also believed that because this was the first admin istration of the test, their scores would be used only to determine passing scores for future test-takers. This understanding was based on more than hearsay. The NES "1998-1999 Regi stration Bulletin" that many first-time candidates received reported: No qualifying score will be established until after the first two administrations of the tests on April 4 and July 11 1998. Candidates who must take the tests and are eligible to participate in those first two administrations will satisfy the testing requiremen t by completing the tests. A qualifying score for each test will be determined by fall 1998 and used beginning with the October 3, 1998 administrations. From then on, candidates for provisional or provisional with adva nced standing teacher certification who must take the tests will have to achieve a qualifying score to meet the certification requirement (p. 2). One candidate prepared her own study guide based on Massachusetts curriculum
2 of 9frameworks, noted, "The six of us who graduated wer e not told much. Less than two weeks before the test date we were told we needed t o receive a certain score to get a certificate."July test-takers reported they received most of the ir information about the test from the media. Because of widespread media reports, some re ported they were able to anticipate certain test components, specifically the dictation portion used to test "literacy and communication skills." In September 1998, the State Department of Education released a guide entitled "Massachusetts Teacher Tests: Test Information Booklet." The booklet includes test objectives, sample questions, and cri teria for test scoring. This resource was unavailable to April and July test takers.In the view of some candidates interviewed, the con fusion about the test's consequences contributed to depressing test results. Whether the y passed or failed, spring testtakers in particular attributed low test scores overall to the message that the test would not "count." One April test-taker noted, "They had told us the scores weren't going to matter. I thought it was a joke." Another reported: Many of us were in the middle of student teaching. We were really busy, and most people didn't study so much as I did. This could explain why so many people failed the first time around and then p assed the next time. A third candidate who passed all three portions of the test nonetheless remarked: I would guess that a number of people who took the very first test took it in panic mode. Because of all the hype, a lot of peopl e went into the test in a panicked frame of mind. Under these circumstances, test scores are not an accurate representation of what they can do.Information about Re-testingCandidates interviewed also reported receiving inad equate information, if any, regarding a re-test for those who failed the test on the firs t round. For example, testtakers knew that free re-tests were offered to all candidates w ho failed one or more sections of the April test. However, one July test-taker reported t hat she did not know if such provisions would be made for those who failed the July test. A nother candidate who failed the April test but did not intend to teach in Massachusetts d escribed her uncertainty as to whether a re-test was still required because she had gradua ted from a private college in Massachusetts. She reported, "I was on the phone al l the time. No one was giving me a definite answer."Information about test resultsSeveral candidates observed that they received indi vidual test results in a format that precluded them from learning from their mistakes. O ne who passed the test on the first round in April asserted, "It is not surprising at a ll that there are repeated re-tests. There is no information at all about what you did wrong, no information about what you did right." In part, these test-takers' wish for more p recise information about their performance reflected some doubt about the objectiv ity of the questions and their scoring. As one noted:
3 of 9I'd like to see what I got wrong. A lot of question s were subjective and poorly worded. I could have supported any of my ans wers, even if they were marked incorrect. Given the lack of either a study guide or individua l feedback, some candidates were left with the belief that their results were a matter of chance. For example, one experienced teacher who passed still found the morning literacy portion of the test "very subjective." As she explained: For example, [on a question requiring the] summariz ing of an article. I thought I did a good job, but my "bar" said I did a n "adequate to inadequate" job on this. You could have three people grade this and come up with three different scores. A July test-taker added: [There were] a couple of open-ended questions on ho w you would teach something. But different people could teach it in d ifferent ways. There was more than one right answer. There was no guidance, no rubrics. I would have liked to have seen a study guide. Some candidates who passed the MTT on the second ro und attributed their scores as much to luck as to preparation. These candidates sa w little difference between the knowledge they possessed at the time of their first test, compared with that knowledge at the time of their second test. Pressed to explain t he differences, they alluded to differences in testing conditions, including more t ime to take specific sections of the test, familiarity with test format and content, or luck. For example, questioned as to what they thought had contributed to raising test scores from one administration to the next, one candidate who had failed the first round on the elementary portion of the test by two points replied, "It's a matter of luck." Another re sponded, "I don't know. Chance, totally chance!"Testing ConditionsCandidates interviewed had taken the Massachusetts Teacher Test at seven different locations around Massachusetts. These testing sites included Bunker Hill Community College, Auburn High School, Burncote High School i n Worcester, Malden High School, West Springfield High School, Randolph High School, and Wakefield Memorial High Schools. We asked the candidates to describe t he testing conditions they experienced as they related to physical comfort, br eaks allowed, adequacy of time to complete the test, acoustics, clarity of directions and variations available for candidates with disabilities.Most candidates generally found the general testing environment to be reasonable or on par with other tests taken. Problems at specific lo cations were noted by four candidates, including two July test-takers who mentioned heat a nd lack of air-conditioning as a problem, one who described proctors who talked "ver y loudly" among themselves for 20 minutes during the testing, and one who reported th e test started late. However, almost half (47%) reported serious problems with acoustics that hindered performance on the written mechanics portion of the test. In addition, almost half also described problems
4 of 9related to the clarity of directions and test organ ization. Others raised concerns about the length of the test overall. AcousticsThe morning portion of the MTT purports to test wri tten mechanics by asking candidates to listen to a passage on a tape recorder, then write down the passage word for word. The purpose of this exer cise is to "demonstrate the ability to spell, capitalize, and punctuate acc ording to standards of edited American English" (Massachusetts Teacher Tests: Tes t Information Booklet, 1998, p. 9). Despite the apparently straig htforward nature of the task, candidates reported a number of problems in i ts administration. Although eight candidates tested at four of the sit es described the testing acoustics as "fine" or "very quiet," other candidat es described conditions that hindered test performance. Five candidates (33 .0%) tested at three different locations reported hearing tape recording s from other testing rooms. One test-taker voiced a common complaint: The acoustics were absolutely atrocious. The classr ooms were adjacent to each other. I was near the back. I coul dn't hear the tape recorder in my classroom, but I could hear the tape in the classroom behind me, and they were not in sync. Clarity of test directions and formatIn addition to variations in and problems associate d with the quality of listening conditions, some candidates described pro blems with the clarity of test directions and test format. Specifically, whil e six candidates characterized the proctors' understanding and test' s clarity of directions as "fine," "okay," or "not bad," nine others described proctors as "poorly prepared" or "kind of lost," and directions as "vag ue." Several April test-takers noted that the lack of co nsistency in the test's format was a problem. As one explained, "You went f rom multiple choice to essay to fillin-the-blank to correct a sentenc e that was incorrect." A July test-taker described confusing directions in relati on to test items on the elementary education sub-test. For example, she exp lained that when she came to one test item, she was "not sure if they wa nted a lesson plan or an essay." By the third administration, test organizat ion and clarity of directions still raised concerns. As one October te st-taker reported: I had a problem with [the clarity of directions]. T hey were extremely disorganized.... Because there were so ma ny subtests...you had the blue section of Test A ...it was confusing, with too many subtests, colors, page numbers. It wa s terribly confusing. I don't see why they couldn't have had o ne test booklet. Also there was a misprint. They had mispri nted the direction of where to answer something. They said i t was on one page, but it was on another.
5 of 9Two test-takers also described confusion related to the "tricky" selection of answers for multiple choice items. For example, one candidate estimated that up to 70% of the special education questions o ffered choices like "1 and 3 only," "2 and 1 only," "3 only," and "4 only."Length of testWhether they had passed or failed the first time th ey were tested, virtually all candidates mentioned the length of the test ove rall as excessive and believed it had an impact on their performance. One noted, "It was too long being in one room." Another reported, "Time was the big issue. Eight hours was just too long."In particular, several candidates mentioned how the test's emphasis on writing essay questions or copying down dictated ma terial contributed to increasing fatigue or incoherence over the course o f the day. One candidate, an experienced teacher certified to teach high scho ol English in New York, New Hampshire, and Connecticut and who described hi mself as a "good test-taker," compared the MTT to other state tests and reported: In other tests, a third was definitely related to e ducation, a third was about literature, and a third had to do with an alytical or problem solving skills. The New York test had only one essay. In Massachusetts, there was one in the morning, and two in the afternoon, plus the morning dictation. There was a lot of writing. I was used to it, but my handwriting's awf ul. By the time you get to the end of the day, you're not legi ble. Another candidate, an experienced elementary teache r with teaching certification in two other states added: There was a lot of writing in terms of essays...sum mary of a story, essays on different topics, two more essays on elementary ed.... It was such a long process. Having the writi ng at the end was hard. In the end, I was exhausted. By the time I got to the end of the content test in elementary ed, I was jus t filling in the bubbles. My knowledge of the elementary subject are a is much higher than I scored. Second-time test takers faced some relief from the demands of an eight-hour testing day. Those taking only one or even two port ions of the MTT as a re-test consistently reported that "it was easier" or "it was shorter," leaving them less tired. Candidates interviewed who took a re-test reported benefiting from the opportunity to re-rest under le ss pressure and with more time allowed. For example, one candidate who scored 60 on the writing portion of the test in April, passed with a score in the high 80s" in July. Asked how she would account for her improved score, she reported: I knew I would be out in two hours because I was ta king only the writing. I think the only thing I can think of is that I wasn't about to pass out. Maybe my handwriting was better because I
6 of 9only wrote for two hours. Another April-test taker who passed the writing por tion of the test on the second try reported no difference either in her app roach to the test or in the format or difficulty of the questions. However, she noted, "It was a lot shorter. I only had to take one part. Mine was the 8:00 to 10:00 slot, so I was done for the day, and I was not exhausted." Som e repeat test-takers also noted that on the re-test, they had the entire morn ing to complete a section that was allotted only two hours the first time aro und. In commenting on the impact of the overall length o f the MTT, candidates compared the MTT unfavorably to the length of other post-graduate tests. For example, one candidate who had also taken Gradu ate Record Examinations in her subject area noted that she had taken the GRE in four and half hours. Others noted that because it was po ssible to take the National Teachers Examination in sections, it was n ot so tiring. As one elementary teacher explained: I took the pre-professional skills tests for the NT E on three separate days. You had different portions, but usua lly you'd come in for testing at 8:00 and be done by 10:30. N TE was offered every weekend, so I could break it up into different days. Literacy and Communication Skills ContentTeacher candidates had a number of questions about the match between their "real world" literacy skills and test content. Whether th ey passed or failed the test, candidates reported that they found some of the content perple xing. Without any study guide or information from others who had taken the test befo re them, the expectations of April test-takers in particular were shaped primarily by other post-graduate tests. Given this, first-time testtakers were especially surprised a t the dictation portion of the test, and several who had taken other teacher tests noted the y had never encountered anything like this on any other examination. Generally, candidate s were confused about what skills and knowledge the dictation portion of the test was attempting to assess. One successful October test-taker commented: The dictation section was mindless, a complete wast e of time. They could have just given us the section and had us punctuate it. You don't have to write it down word for word. A monkey can do that.. .. It was very simple-minded. Others also questioned other portions related to re ading and writing. As one successful candidate reported: The reading and writing content didn't seem appropr iate. [It was] not testing my knowledge of reading or writing. Like the questi on, "Define a verb." The test didn't seem to be testing what it said it was testing.Subject Area Content
7 of 9Candidates also detailed concerns about the content in the subject area tests. Their comments detailed concerns that much of the content did not match content found in the Massachusetts frameworks or the demands of real-wor ld teaching responsibilities.Content not included in grade-level curriculum fram eworksThree of the candidates, all of whom passed the tes t on the first round, believed the content tested extended beyond the knowledge they n eeded for teaching. One candidate mentioned that content included went well beyond wh at she would expect to teach her middle grades students. She asserted, "There should be separate tests for middle and high school science. Never will I teach advanced ph ysics in middle school." Another who took the English subject area test ques tioned the extent to which some content tested even fit within the boundaries of th e discipline. As he commented: I distinctly remember a test question on "new journ alism." I see this as a separate field. The question had to do with who was responsible for the rise of new journalism. I have a BA and an MA, and somet imes journalism students came into our classes, but we didn't take theirs. I've studied criticism, but not journalism.Lack of content about professional knowledgeSome candidates interviewed reported surprise that the MTT did not cover content they expected based on their experience taking other tea cher tests, whether the National Teachers Examination (Praxis) or state tests. Most often, candidates mentioned the lack of content related to professional knowledge and sk ills and commented on the lack of attention to teaching itself. For example, one rece nt graduate and physical education teacher noted: The content wasn't fair. There was not a lot of app lication to how you taught. The test did not have, "In this situation, what would you do?" kinds of questions. An experienced elementary teacher certified in two fields in another state likewise wondered how well the MTT could determine teachers' competence in classrooms given the mismatch she perceived between the demands of t eaching and content on the MTT. She asserted: The MTT did not test my ability to teach. As a teac her, I'm constantly reteaching myself. There are so many things you do as teacher that are performancebased, not knowledge-based. You need t o know teachers are performing, handling their class in a professional manner. Another teacher with twenty years experience and ce rtification in two other states, also questioned what she perceived as an overall stress on mechanical skills and content knowledge compared to the limited emphasis on knowl edge of classroom practice. She reported: There was a big lack of anything to do with classro om management. It was all content knowledge. There were no more than a coupl e of questions on
8 of 9teaching methods, classroom management, anything to do with your ability to teach. In light of limited content geared toward assessing professional knowledge, candidates raised concerns that the emphasis on content to the exclusion of other aspects of teaching reflected a misunderstanding of what was r equired to be a successful teacher. As one candidate with an exemplary academic record asserted: Nothing on the whole test addressed the issue of ho w well you teach. Even if I'd gotten every question right, it wouldn't hav e proved I could teach physics to 16-year-olds. From the perspective of another candidate, even whe n test items ostensibly melded content knowledge with teaching knowledge, the ques tions did not provide adequate information to answer them well. For example, one e xperienced teacher described one question on the middle school portion of the test a s unrelated to real-world teaching conditions: You were supposed to create a unit plan with a team but in the test, you're on your own. Then you're told you're not being grad ed on the creativity or usability of your plan. But there are no references resources, or curriculum frameworks to work with. You're told your response will be graded on your knowledge of your subject area, not on the lesson p lan. Candidates viewed the weighting of basic literacy a nd writing skills over teaching knowledge, regardless of the subject area, as a maj or flaw in the test. As one explained: It's possible with the Massachusetts test for some very good teachers to be knocked out because of problems with spelling. A lo t of what we do [in classrooms] is done ahead of time. It's not a handi capping situation not to know everything there is to know. It's also possibl e that a lot of bad teachers are passing. People could pass the content test wit hout knowing how to teach. Views of teacher testingDespite the range of concerns raised about the MTT, the candidates interviewed did not object to standardized testing per se, and all agre ed it was reasonable to ask teacher candidates to pass a test prior to certification. H owever, they added that although they were not opposed to the testing of new teachers, th ey believed that the MTT should be replaced with a different test. Whether they passed or failed, candidates interviewed were aware that "most of the professions have a tes t" and viewed testing one of the rites of passage into a profession. However, candidates d oubted that the Massachusetts test in particular could adequately assess teacher competen ce. They compared the MTT unfavorably to other professional tests they had ta ken and described the latter as having a more balanced focus on all aspects of teaching, i ncluding content knowledge, classroom skills, and problem solving. As one noted "Yes, I'm in favor of a fair test like those offered in Connecticut or New York. But this one is not fair at all." Candidates noted in particular that, compared with other tests, items pertaining to the teaching process itself were missing from the Massa chusetts test. As one explained:
9 of 9In New York, you have to pass a basic liberal arts and sciences test.... But in New York you have to pass a written assessment of t eaching skills. This includes subject knowledge but also more teaching. There are also two essays associated with classroom situations. A third elaborated: It's not unreasonable to have new teachers take a s tandardized test. It's only unreasonable to take an unproven test that has no v alidation data. This one is much too subjective. The New York test was more fair in assessing teachers' ability to teach.... If they want to know if you can write under pressure, that's what this test shows. Eight candidates explicitly mentioned the National Teacher Examination as a more accurate test of teaching skills. One experienced t eacher who taught elementary school in two other states before moving to Massachusetts asserted, "The Massachusetts Teacher Test needs to look into the NTE. It's recog nized, accepted, reliable." Another described the NTE as testing "a wider range of cont ent-communications, professional knowledge, and general knowledge." Another conclude d, "Massachusetts could do better, could have a much better quality test."
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
mods:mods xmlns:mods http:www.loc.govmodsv3 xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.loc.govmodsv3mods-3-1.xsd
mods:relatedItem type host
mods:identifier issn 1068-2341mods:part
mods:detail volume mods:number 7issue 4series Year mods:caption 19991999Month February2Day 1111mods:originInfo mods:dateIssued iso8601 1999-02-11