More uncredentialed teachers' students fail
Seniors likely to flunk exit test, study says
Nanette Asimov, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
©2002 San Francisco Chronicle.
A new and potentially serious consequence of California's epidemic of
uncredentialed teachers is emerging: Their students have high failure rates on
the high school exit exam they must pass to graduate in 2004, says a study to be
High schools with the fewest credentialed teachers had the highest failure rates
on the math portion of the exit exam, says the study by the Center for the
Future of Teaching and Learning, in Santa Cruz.
The group is urging state lawmakers to implement a new federal law one year
early in the state's worst- performing schools.
The law, a part of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, requires all
schools to employ only fully credentialed teachers.
The federal deadline is the 2004-05 academic year. But the group says California
should make it happen by 2003-04 in about 1,500 schools that rank 1 or 2 on the
state's Academic Performance Index -- top-performing schools rank 10.
The group also urges the state Board of Education to delay the exit exam until
students are guaranteed qualified and effective teachers.
"To do less than this would be morally wrong," the report concludes.
Beginning with the high school Class of 2004, students who have not passed the
exit exam would be denied a diploma. Sophomores began trying to pass the test
At least a temporary delay is possible because high failure rates suggest too
many students have not been taught the material on the test.
Of 431,000 sophomores who took the test last spring, only 48 percent passed both
the math and language arts portions. The state Board of Education is expected to
decide by July.
But the new report shows that the greatest concentration of failures were in
schools with uncredentialed teachers.
In schools where 21 percent of teachers lacked a full credential, at least 75
percent of sophomores who took the math portion of the test failed.
By contrast, in schools with just 9 percent uncredentialed teachers, less than
50 percent of sophomores failed the math portion.
"If the state is going to require students to achieve high standards, then basic
fairness requires that all students have access to fully prepared and effective
teachers to help them reach the mark," said Margaret Gaston, co- director of the
Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning.
The state's budget crisis could also prompt a delay in the exam. With a $50. 2
million price tag over four years and a $16 million cost this year, state
lawmakers could decide in January to delay the test.
Sacramento Democrat Darrell Steinberg, chair of the Assembly Appropriations
Committee, is sympathetic to a delay.
"The concept of the exit exam is sound," said Steinberg, who created a committee
to study low- performing schools and has written bills on teacher preparation.
"But where students are not being taught by qualified teachers, it raises a lot
Steinberg endorsed the report's main recommendation to require credentialed
teachers at the lowest performing schools by next year.
Both Kerry Mazzoni, education secretary to Gov. Gray Davis, and Wayne Johnson,
president of the vast California Teachers Association, disagreed -- but for
Mazzoni said schools need the extra year for teachers to get their credentials.
"I would be concerned about any acceleration (of the law). We're already on a
very tight time line," she said.
Johnson said he believes complying with the federal law will be impossible at
"Do the math," he said. "When your supply is way below the demand, you can pass
all the laws you want, but it's not going to happen."
The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning has been highlighting the
supply-and-demand problem for years.
In 1999, the group attracted the attention of state lawmakers when it revealed
that one in seven California teachers lacked both experience and a credential --
two ingredients most strongly associated with academic improvement in low-income
The group also found that inexperienced teachers were overwhelmingly
concentrated in schools with the neediest students.
The new report urges state lawmakers to spend as much time on the issue of
effective teachers as they spend on the budget crisis. "The education of
millions of California's children cannot be put in abeyance while the deficit is
The study will be on the Internet today at www.cftl.org.
QUALIFIED TEACHERS AND PASSING THE EXIT EXAM
A new study shows that in high schools with more credentialed teachers, more
10th graders passed the exit exam's math test last year. .
When 91% of the teachers were credentialed,...
...less than 50% of the students failed. .
When 88% of the teachers were credentialed,...
...50% to 75% of the students failed. .
When 79% of the teachers were credentialed,...
...75% or more of the students failed. .
Source: Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning Chronicle Graphic
E-mail Nanette Asimov at firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2002 San Francisco Chronicle. Page A - 1