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Idaho Board Rejects Alternate Route to Teacher Certification

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Advocates of an alternate route to teacher certification in Idaho have vowed to press the issue in the legislature next year in the wake of a defeat before the state board of education.

The plan, which was rejected by the board last month on a 4-to-4 vote, would have allowed people with experience in other fields to teach at the high-school level while completing a two-year internship.

"I think there will be legislation to do what the board rejected," said Representative Janet Hay, a Republican who chairs the House Education Committee.

"It seems unreasonable to put an artificial barrier in the way of competent adults who want to become teachers, and to expect them to go through the same hurdles as an 18-year-old," Ms. Hay added.

A majority of states currently have some alternate route to teacher certification, according to Donald Hair, executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification. But Mr. Hair added that it is difficult to compare state plans because each is different.

Not Aimed at Shortage

The Idaho proposal, developed over two and a half years by the state Professional Standards Commission, called for a four-member panel to develop individual plans for prospective teachers, said Michael Friend, the commission's administrator.

Mr. Friend said the panel had envisioned attracting retirees, people who had been trained in foreign languages, and engineers from the National Engineering Laboratory in Idaho Falls into teaching.

"The Professional Standards Commission did not look at an alternate route as a means to address a teacher shortage," he said, noting that the state suffers a shortage only in the field of special education.

Those chosen for the program would have been required to complete nine hours of coursework in education each summer while serving a four-semester internship.

During the internship, the new teachers would have been paid by their school district and supervised by a mentor teacher. At the end of the program, the four-member panel would have recommended whether the teacher should be certified.

Ms. Hay predicted the approach would find "a great deal of support" in the legislature.

But the Idaho Education Association opposes creating an alternate route to certification.

"Standards should be changed only for the purpose of improving teacher-training experiences," said Richard C. Chilcote, the union's president. "We felt that the alternate route was not being done for that purpose."

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