Keck: University Plans to Continue Appeal of SBEC Review Rating

Texas A&M International University will continue to appeal a recent decision by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) that provided the University an "Accredited-Under Review" rating issued under the Accountability System for Educator Preparation (ASEP).

The rating was based on the low performance of male students on first attempts of the ExCET and requires the University to provide a plan to remedy the performance. In the interim, the under review status is maintained though Aug. 31, 2002 under Section 21.045 of the Texas Education Code.

The University's appeal notes that the University's overall, cumulative ExCET score is 88.18% and represents the efforts of 464 students. Less than 1 percent, ( .33%), or three male students, did not pass on the first attempt.

"We do not dispute the student scores, but we do believe that the resulting rating is severe and the end does not justify the means. We believe the disaggregation of the population into gender is problematic.

The University has earned state-wide recognition for exceeding teacher production projections and leads the state in the graduation of qualified Hispanic teachers. This is at best an isolated incident of individual performance and the entire institution should not be so severely penalized... What has basically occurred is that one-third of one-percent of males' performance on this exam have brought us into a review situation, " Dr. Keck explained.

To be accredited, first-time test takers from each ethnic and gender group must have a 70 percent pass rate, and second-time test takers must have an 80 percent pass rate.

If one group does not achieve the 70 or 80 percent pass rate, SBEC places that university's teacher certification program under review.

In the University's case, first-time male test takers achieved a 68.5 percent pass rate, 1.5 percent shy of the required 70 percent.

The number of males taking the test for the second time achieved a 79.66 percent pass rate, 0.33 percent shy of the required 80 percent.

"If two more (males) had passed, we would not be under review," Keck noted. About 85 A&M International males were first-time test-takers and fewer than 90 took it for the second time.

Females in first and second time testing categories (approximately 465 and 420, respectively) passed the percentages required.

The University's 550 total second-time test takers (combined male and female) achieved an 88 percent pass rate.

First-time takers (515) had a 73 percent pass rate, both of which are perfectly acceptable scores, Keck said.

Keck noted that teaching strategies don't disaggregate by gender and that writing a deficiency plan for this seems at odds with the states' requirement for non-gender bias.

According to the Associated Press, 88 percent of new teachers passed the certification tests. 23,084 students who for the first time took 38,433 exams for the 2000-2001 school year. Of those, 88 percent, or 33,652 tests were passed.

The AP reported that minority passing rates were slightly lower. Of the 2,894 tests taken by black students, 2,119 or 73 percent,

were passed. Of the 10,295 taken by Hispanics, 8,137 or 79 percent, were passed. Whites passed 22,450, or

93 percent, of tests.

Among 11 other schools who will be placed on review status are the University of Texas-El Paso, UT-Dallas, Jarvis Christian College, University of Houston- Clear Lake, Wiley College and Texas Southern University.

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