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SIOP Members Report on Effectiveness of National Teacher Certification

by Stephany Schings, Communications Specialist

I-O psychologists can utilize their skills in more than just the work community.
Two I-O psychologists and members of SIOP— Dr. Milton Hakel, former SIOP president and professor and eminent scholar in the Psychology Department at Bowling Green State University, and Dr.  Deirdre Knapp, a vice president at HumRRO—recently served on the Committee on Evaluation of Teacher Certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Hakel served as chair of the committee.

The committee was sponsored by the National Research Council in response to a request by the U.S. Congress to develop a framework for evaluating the impacts of NBPTS and determining if their funding of it was effective.

The mission of the NBPTS is to establish “high and rigorous standards for what teachers should know and be able to do, to certify teachers who meet those standards, and to advance other education reforms for the purpose of improving student learning in American schools.”

The committee’s report, which was released in mid-June and published in book form entitled Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs, addresses the impacts of NBPTS on students, teachers, and the education system in the U.S.

Hakel and Knapp said they were chosen to serve on the committee because the specific areas they work in as I-O psychologists would be useful in evaluating the effectiveness of teacher certification.

Hakel has been teaching at the college level for 42 years and has been involved in testing and education-related research for some time. Knapp has been providing psychometric expertise to certification testing programs for almost 20 years.

“We got on the committee not because we’re I-O psychologists, per se, but because we’re dealing with things in our I-O psychology work that is what the committee is about,” Knapp said. “It is by virtue of the areas we choose to work in and become known in.”

Hakel explained that the more general skills of an I-O psychologist also helped he and Knapp perform on the committee.

 “The skills and knowledge base in I-O psychology is much broader than in other fields,” he said. “So I think that’s why so many end up in administrative jobs and management-level positions. I think we’re also very good at analyzing vague questions. Congress just asked us to find out if the funding was effective. Well, what does effective mean? A lot of people would like clear and simple answers… I-O psychologists are particularly good at laying out the many ways things could be decided.”

Hakel and Knapp, along with the rest of the 17-person committee found that teachers who earn board certification are more effective at improving their students’ achievement than teachers who are not board certified.

“We did find that the program overall does identify effective teachers,” Hakel said.

However, the committee also found that school districts vary greatly in the extent to which they recognize and use those who are certified.

The committee also recommended research needed to answer remaining questions as to the impacts of board certification by NBPTS.

Knapp mentioned that I-O psychologists might often feel that their work is overlooked, but that there are numerous ways they can contribute to the community, both academic and otherwise.

“We’re very insular. We tend to talk to each other and be narrow in perspective,” she said.  “Look outside yourself and be a part of the community of issues and research that exist beyond our usual sphere of influence and which merit public attention and associated visibility. There are ways to reach out and get involved in other disciplines and settings which will help make our mark as I-O psychologists.”