Realizing the Promise: How State Policy Can Support Alternative Certification Programs

Robin Chait and Michele McLaughlin
Center for American Progress
February 2009

It's been long understood that teacher quality is the number one determinant of student success that's under schools' control. Crucial to increasing the pool of talented teachers are alternative certification programs, which, done right, streamline entry to the classroom for adroit teacher candidates in high need areas or high need subjects. Unfortunately, as we found last year, few programs are done right; most offer the same hoops and headaches as traditional certification, just re-ordered. Robin Chait, of the Center for American Progress, and Michele McLaughlin, of Teach For America, agree. They point to New York City as one example, where teachers in alternative certification programs have to slog through unpaid summer training and then shell out $8,000-17,000 in tuition fees for debatably helpful education courses. This isn't always the fault of the program, however; both good and bad programs are oftentimes constrained or left unsupported by poor state policy. To rectify the situation, the duo offers three worthwhile objectives for states looking to improve: minimizing participant burden (e.g. cutting down on required course load); ensuring program quality (e.g. increasing minimum GPA requirements and raising Praxis cut scores); and encouraging innovation and growth (e.g. creating a specific alternative certification license, rather than using existing emergency or temporary licensing laws). That's a good start; you can find the rest here.

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