Alternative Routes to Teaching: Mapping the New Landscape of Teacher Education
January 21, 2009
Pam Grossman and Susanna Loeb, eds.
Harvard Education Press
This book sets out to do just what its subtitle suggests: map a new landscape of teacher education. Crucial to that terrain, posit editors Grossman and Loeb, both Stanford education professors, is a new typology of teacher preparation. Simply comparing "alternative" to "traditional" certification is not valuable, particularly since these programs are "hardly distinguishable...in terms of substance" (we couldn't agree more). Moreover, when programs do vary, defining them as a single group masks important differences and hinders the field's ability to learn from and improve them. Grossman and Loeb's proposed typology defines teacher education programs via four dimensions: the nature of the provider (e.g., college, university, district, private organization, or a mix of these); the focus of recruitment and selection (e.g., via highly selective colleges, military recruitment, or local recruitment); addressing the needs of the labor market (e.g., district needs or high-needs certification areas like special education); and the timing and focus of course work and fieldwork preparation (e.g., six-week pre-entry program, full-year of co-teaching induction, or something in between). The book also calls for more experimentation in teacher preparation programs, particularly matching differential supports to teacher profiles. For example, how might a program preparing teachers to work in schools with large percentages of English language learners differ from those heading to English-dominant schools? Other chapters provide background on alternative certification programs, the types of candidates most apt to enter them, evidence supporting their effectiveness (including retention rates), and the difficulties involved in conducting reliable research in this area. It's a useful overview of alternative routes to teaching and a sensible new way to consider the topic. You can buy it here.