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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