Certification Requirements and Teacher Quality: A Comparison of Alternative Routes to Teaching
After decades of education schools’ oligarchic control over teacher licensure, alternative-certification pathways have gained traction in recent years. (Fordham has tracked and supported these pathways since the first such emerged in NJ.) Still, resistance to them remains. Many critics argue that alt-cert pathways cherry-pick their entrants. (Much has been written about TFA on this front). This paper by Tim Sass, a CALDER researcher and economics professor, analyzes three of Florida’s nine alternate pathways to teacher licensure—none of which engage in heavy recruiting, and some of which require no coursework before or after licensure. Overall, the author finds that teachers who enter the profession with no education coursework under their belts are better at raising student achievement than either those from traditional teacher-prep programs or alt-cert programs requiring some formal coursework—though there is much variability in programs’ effectiveness. Sass also investigates prior coursework taken by teachers who enter through each pathway and produces an interesting finding: Alternatively certified science teachers took far more discipline-specific courses than those who have been traditionally trained, though the same cannot be said for math teachers. Of particular note is the strong performance by teachers certified by ABCTE—an “alternate route on steroids” that Fordham helped to birth. While surely not the final word on alternative certification, Sass’s offers further reason for the expansion of smarter alt-cert options.
Tim Sass, Certification Requirements and Teacher Quality: A Comparison of Alternative Routes to Teaching (Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University, 2011).
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