Earning its name at last

Will alternative certification finally be alternative? In New York State, at least, the answer is yes. Under a pilot plan passed unanimously by the State Board of Regents on Tuesday (and ushered through by a former ed school dean, David Steiner), alternative teacher preparation programs such as Teach For America and New York City Teaching Fellows will no longer have to concurrently enroll their participants in traditional education school master’s programs. New York State still requires teachers to obtain a master’s degree within five years of entering the classroom, but TFA, NYCTF, and other alt cert organizations will be able to create their own master’s programs, with the Regents awarding the degree themselves; the degree-recipient would have to commit to work in a high-needs school for four years. Many states have alt cert pathways, but only a few, such as Rhode Island and Louisiana, let those alternative programs effectively certify their own teachers. As a result, in most other states, the “alternative” route looks a whole lot like a traditional ed school experience. No more. In what’s a nod to both criticisms that ed schools aren’t up to snuff and that these alternative programs are producing teachers at least as good as, if not better than, traditionally trained teachers, New York’s alternative certification programs will now be just that: alternative. Let’s hope more states follow suit.

Regents Plan New Route to Master’s in Teaching,” by Lisa W. Foderaro, New York Times, April 20, 2010

Alternative Path for Teachers Gains Ground,” by Lisa W. Foderaro, New York Times, April 18, 2010