- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2003

The chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee yesterday began a probe into efforts by the president of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) to “sabotage” an alternative teacher-certification project.

Rep. John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, “expressed outrage over reports that education-reform opponents, using a stolen copy of a confidential test, may have engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to sabotage a federally-funded project aimed at making it easier for states to put a qualified teacher in every public classroom,” said a statement from the committee announcing the investigation.

The investigation was announced after exclusive reports in The Washington Times that David G. Imig, AACTE president and chief executive, convened a meeting of teacher-college professionals in California at which he circulated an unauthorized copy of the test of the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE). The AACTE president opposes the alternative certification measure.

Mr. Boehner asked the inspector general of the Department of Education separately to investigate whether AACTE had misused its own federal grant funds by showing bias against the congressionally recognized project of the ABCTE, also called the American Board.

“It’s no secret that the education establishment wants to hold onto the monopoly it holds on teacher certification,” Mr. Boehner said.

“But if there was a deliberate act of sabotage against a program supported by the tax dollars of American parents and workers, then a big line has been crossed. Millions of disadvantaged children across the country are waiting for the chance to learn from a highly qualified school teacher. An attempt to sabotage this project is an attempt to sabotage their future.”

Both Mr. Imig and Lisa Graham Keegan, president of Education Leaders Council, which formed the American Board with the National Council on Teacher Quality, welcomed the House probe.

“We will welcome that investigation,” Mr. Imig said in a telephone interview from Chicago. “We will welcome working with the chairman. We will welcome the opportunity to get an accurate depiction of exactly what the association has been doing.”

But he declined to reveal his source of the purloined field test, which forced the American Board to spend months creating new test items and sever its relations with ACT Inc., of Iowa City, Iowa, the test developer, which lost $1.2 million on the compromised test.

Mrs. Keegan said in an interview, “I’m grateful that Chairman Boehner shares our outrage at these actions. Most important is that all of us involved in teacher preparation must not only welcome but search out what works. Instead, Mr. Imig seems to be censoring it.”

Kathleen A. Madigan, president of ABCTE, said in a statement, “These organizations oppose the tests being developed by the American Board because … they will provide a new path to teacher certification.” By placing “highly qualified individuals in teaching positions without requiring them to attend a college of teacher education,” Ms. Madigan said, the new tests “could ultimately impact the revenues and prestige position currently enjoyed by those involved in organizations such as AACTE.”

Mr. Imig circulated the stolen alternative teacher certification test —one of four being developed by the American Board under a two-year, $5-million grant from the U.S. Department of Education — at an invitation-only meeting of professional educators and teaching specialists in Palo Alto, Calif., on March 17.

Simultaneously, directors of AACTE’s 46 state affiliates started mobilizing deans and teacher-college professors at the association’s 750 member colleges and universities to head off state legislative interest in formally approving alternative teacher certification through the American Board.

In an interview with The Times yesterday, Mr. Imig said he opposed “the particular pedagogical approach” of the test. “Doctor Madigan is known for her affinity with direct instruction. A great many of those questions are focused on direct instruction.” Direct instruction is a teaching method that uses scripted lessons to help build basic skills.

Mr. Imig said the ABCTE test was not subjected to “professional peer review” — a contention called “blatantly false” by Ms. Madigan.

Mr. Imig said the American Board’s advisers “all bring a certain kind of direction with them.”

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