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41 States, D.C. Have Alternative Teacher Licensing

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Forty-one states and the District of Columbia have developed alternatives to the traditional education school route to licensing teachers during the past decade, according to a new report.

Most of the licensing programs launched by states in the 1990's have been designed specifically to bring talented people with bachelor's degrees into teaching, the study says, rather than to alleviate teacher shortages.

The report, "Alternative Teacher Certification: A State-by-State Analysis 1993-94,'' was written by C. Emily Feistritzer, the president of the National Center for Education Information, and David T. Chester. The center has been tracking such programs since 1983.

Fourteen states now offer what the researchers consider to be "true'' alternative programs, which are not restricted to shortage subject areas or particular grade levels. All such programs offer formal instruction and support from experienced mentor teachers.

Two years ago, the report notes, only six states offered "true'' alternatives to the traditional route to licensure: graduation from a state-approved teacher education program.

An additional seven states offer programs that include mentoring and formal instruction but are restricted to secondary teaching or to subject areas with teacher shortages, the study found.

Higher Education Involved

One of the biggest changes in the movement toward alternative licensure, the study suggests, is the increasing involvement of higher-education institutions in developing programs for nontraditional teaching candidates.

In this year's survey, 29 states reported that higher-education institutions had developed alternative programs leading to a teaching license.

Although many higher-education institutions initially were negative about such approaches, Ms. Feistritzer said, they have been forced to respond to public demand.

"I think they realized they might be left in the dust if they didn't jump on this,'' she said in an interview.

The states reported that they had licensed 25,000 people through alternative programs in the past two years. Since 1984, the center estimates, 50,000 people have become licensed to teach through such programs.

States also reported continuing interest in alternative licensure over the past five years. Only North Dakota, which does not offer an alternative route into the classroom, said that interest had decreased.

Copies of the report are available for $58.95 each from the National Center for Education Information, 4401A Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 212, Washington, D.C. 20008.

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