The National Department of Education (NDOE) conducted two major  training workshops to address two major educational  issues, the NMCT ( National Minimum Competency Test) and the FSM Teacher Certification policy. The former NMCT workshop was held at the Tuna Commission conference room which accommodated participants consisting of administrators, principals, teachers, specialists among others  from the four FSM States and CTE administrators and representatives from COM-FSM college  for the duration of the week long meetings to discuss the impact and implications of the issues as they are affected from the context  of the States.
 
The SBA (Standard Based Assessment) was frequently  exemplified in the presentations of the  NMCT was held on November 16 to 20, 2015, subsequently followed by the later Teacher Certification workshop.  Both workshops were implemented as means of countering the misunderstandings between the NDOE and the State DOEs on the subject matters.
 
The  NMCT/SBA workshop proved to be  quite beneficial for the participants  because  the four day agenda of this workshop in particular was purposefully outlined  to cover the significant talking points which were essential for an healthy flow of ideas from the workshop facilitators as much as their audience. 
        
At the end of the NMCT or SBA workshop, several milestones were accomplished as a result of the NMCT workshop such as the participants' appreciation for the significant characteristics of a cut off score in a SBA (Standard Based Assessment) in comparison to other available assessment tools or methodology to measure student performance. 
 
For instance, the NMCT uses a distinct standard based assessment where a "true cut off" score cannot be assigned since a decision has to be made on which of the standards and bench marks would be take out when one decides specifically on what we want our students to learn; in other words, not all standards and bench marks could be taken into full account in the assessment.
 
Another milestone worth of mention is the introduction of the PREL Scoring Center. The PRS has surpassed the expectations of several educators whose expertise are involved with the tedious work of making meaningful sense  and practical use of data to communicate or report on the level of performance of students after they have been tested with NMCT.  The  more redeeming qualities of the PRS are embedded in its ability to make data readily accessible and sensible for national and state testing coordinators .
 
Now,  the  NMCT test results could generate the essential reports on school, teachers, students. Principals are  a able to access the data via internet in real time. This means decision making is becoming increasingly effective after the assessment of test results like that of the NMCT.  All in all, the PRS contains 10 user friendly applications to ensure the effective delivery of the SBA at levels.
 
The SBA daily activities were arranged under the following topics:  Overview of simpler scoring methods and Process review of SBA test; SBA data interpretation and Using data for interpretation; Reanalysis of the 2014 Data and Using PREL Scoring Center (PSC) Templates; Uploading files to the PSC System (practicum reinforcement exercise) and Operating the PSC System; and lastly, Reception of Q & A highlights.
 
The later, Teacher Certification Workshop was held at Cliff Rainbow Hotel conference room shortly after the NMCT workshop from November 21 to 23,2015.  Most of the participants who were present for the later workshop had been in the former SBA workshop. The purpose behind the Teacher Certification workshop was to revisit the current policy to examine the options that may be open for amendments so that CTE and ECE teachers who were displaced for not meeting the bare minimum  may be able to remain  teaching on board. 
 
With regards to the Teacher Certification policy in the FSM," Public policy set within the legal framework of FSM Code, Title 40, which allows the Secretary in cooperation and consultation with the State Directors of Education, to establish the regulations that set out the qualification requirements for Teacher Certification. Developing the policy generally involves research, analysis, consultation, generating solutions and evaluation."
 
The other side of the teacher certification relates to the SEG funding of FSM teachers salary as it is restricted by JEMCO-MT-2011-1 resolution, which became effective in 2011. The resolution states that "If teachers who are currently in DOE-approved professional development programs do not complete their associate degrees by September 30, 2015.  No Sector Grant or Supplemental Grant funding shall be provided to pay their salaries beginning in FY 2016 and onward."  
 
According to current statistics, there are  1,749 teachers including teaching principals who are affected with the FSM teacher certification policy. From this group, there are 1,430 or 82% degree holders and 319 or 18% non degree holders.  Although, the number of those without degrees have slightly been reduced by 11% since 1999, the number of non degree teachers to meet the minimum certification requirement is still a concern especially for CTE and ECE teachers whose status are not clearly defined in the policy. 
 
Data on CTE  and ECE teachers also indicate that there 16 CTE and ECE  14  teachers who would  not meet the minimum degree requirement on teacher certification; therefore, they may be subject to possible termination. 
 
Notwithstanding  the Teacher Certification Requirement, an unfortunate incident had  transpired in Chuuk  calling for the termination 11 CTE teachers with field experience and trade certification, but lacked the minimum two-year academic credentials.
 
Evidently, the main objective of compliance to the FSM teacher certification policy supports the push forward for the  hiring  of quality teachers to enhance student achievement; whereas empirical  research points favorably to this specific correlation.
     
In contrast to the instructional nature of the NMCT workshop, the Teacher Certification workshop provides a objective approach for individuals and groups to voice out their prefessional recommendations on the current Teacher Certification Policy in conjunction with the JEMCO resolution mandating the severance in teachers pay out of the SEG funding source for those who do not meet the bare minimum requirement, in this case, a teacher in the FSM must have an AA/AS degree.
 
All in all,  the NMCT  and Teacher Certification workshops were positively encouraging.  The participants of the NMCT had come away with a lot of questions answered on the ever complex SBA tool simplified with an additional PREL Scoring System to make work more efficient and effective. As for the Teacher Certification workshop, a follow workshop is schedule to take place in Chuuk for further discussions for the purpose of examining current recommendations on teacher certifications to finalize counterproductive solutions.