Survey Tracks Evolution of Alternative Certification

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WASHINGTON--Alternative certification, a phrase that has come to describe nearly all nontraditional routes into teaching, is developing into a recognizable sot of criteria as more states adopt specially designed programs to prepare non-teacher-education graduates for the profession, a survey released last week suggests.

Eleven states have established programs of such caliber, eight of them within the past year, according to the study by the National Center for Education Information, a private education-research firm based here.

Emily Feistritzer, the director of the center and principal author of the study, said the survey indicates that states are placing more emphasis on the quality of the programs than on using alternative certification only as a shortcut to the classroom. Although the center has been surveying the states on the issue since 1983, the new survey tries for the first time to classify the kinds of alternative certification states have adopted.

"Class A" programs are those that Ms. Feistritzer and her co-author, David Chester, suggest are "True" alternative-certification programs. Designed expressly to attract talented college graduates with degrees outside of education, according to the authors, the programs are not restricted to shortage situations, to secondary education, or to certain subjects. They also include teaching under a trained mentor and formal instruction in both content and pedagogy.

The 11 states with programs deemed Class A by the report are Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.

"Class F" programs, on the other hand, are those in which states have merely "dusted off' emergency-certification measures, according to the report. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia waive certification, permitting individuals to teach unsupervised while taking education courses, the survey found.

Only New York and North Dakota said they were not considering any form of alternative certification.

The survey also reports that more than 20,000 teachers nationwide have been licensed under alternative certification plans since 1985. During the past two years, an additional 12,000 candidates have entered such programs, representing a 120 percent increase from 1988-89 to 1990-91, according to the analysis.

Copies of the survey, "Alternative Teacher Certification: A State-by-State Analysis," are available for $28.95 each from the N.C.E.L, 4401-A Connecticut Ave., N.W., #212, Washing/con, D.C. 20008.

Vol. 11, Issue 09, Page 4

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