Education

Report Suggests Alternative Paths As Solutions to Teacher Shortages

By Ann Bradley — October 21, 1998 2 min read
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Alternative-certification programs that have grown up around the nation over the past 15 years can be “real solutions” to teacher shortages, a new report concludes.

The resource book, compiled by C. Emily Feistritzer and David T. Chester of the National Center for Education Information, is another in a series of annual reports on the topic by the private, nonpartisan research firm. Ms. Feistritzer, the president of the Washington-based center, is well-known for her support of such nontraditional routes to teaching.

People interested in becoming teachers traditionally have attended a state-approved program at a college or university and been awarded a license upon graduation. In the early 1980s--as concern about the quality of teachers mounted and aspiring teachers expressed frustration at barriers to education careers--states began to establish alternatives.

In addition to details on the alternative-certification routes available in 41 states, this year’s report includes profiles of the extensive programs in Texas and California. It also features a report on Troops to Teachers, the U.S. Department of Defense program that channels military retirees into teaching positions. (Expiring ‘Troops to Teachers’ Project Outfits Classrooms With Professionals in Demand,” Oct. 14, 1998.)

Minority Teachers Attracted

In Texas, 27 alternative-certification programs produce nearly half of all minority teachers, data provided by the state show. Teachers who follow those routes generally stay in teaching at about the same rate as those who graduate from education schools, while African-American and Hispanic educators tend to stay in the profession longer if they were licensed through an alternate route.

For More Information:

Copies of “Alternative Teacher Certification: A State-by-State Analysis 1998-99" is available for $95, plus $4 shipping and handling, from the National Center for Education Information, 4401 Connecticut Ave., N.W., #212, Washington, DC 20008; tel. (202) 362-3493; email: nceicef@aol.com

Between 25 percent and 40 percent of the graduates who complete traditional teacher-training programs in California never take a teaching job in the state, according to the report. In contrast, 87 percent of the teachers licensed by alternate-route programs enter California classrooms.

In both states, Ms. Feistritzer said, the alternate programs have been carefully designed and include extensive exposure to the classroom. California’s new rules for teacher licensure include a two-year internship that more closely mirrors the alternate-route approaches there.

“Alternate routes target the programs where the jobs are,” Ms. Feistritzer argued. “They are designed to meet demand, not to crank out more teachers who may or may not ever find a job.”

Elizabeth Fideler, the vice president for policy and research at Recruiting New Teachers Inc., a Belmont, Mass., nonprofit concerned with improving the nation’s teaching pool, did not disagree that some alternate-route programs can produce qualified teachers.

But Ms. Fideler, who had not seen the report, cautioned that the controversial programs remain uneven in quality. “There has been so much criticism, I am glad they are listening to it and trying to ensure quality,” she said. “We have to be looking at evaluations of those teachers, and I don’t think we have them across the board.”

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