Federal

Teachers From Alternate Routes Scrutinized

By Debra Viadero — September 27, 2005 3 min read

New research findings provide fresh fodder for debates over whether teachers who skip traditional education school training are more demographically diverse than their colleagues, and whether they provide special expertise in math or science.

The findings, presented here at a Sept. 16 conference sponsored by the U.S. Education Department’s Institute of Education Sciences, come from a study tracking teachers who entered the profession via seven alternative-certification programs scattered around the country.

BRIC ARCHIVE

“The thing that struck us was the tremendous variation among program participants, and among programs,” said Daniel C. Humphrey, the study’s lead author and the associate director of the Center on Education Policy at SRI International, a think tank based in Menlo Park, Calif. “A lot of the characterizations we’ve heard turned out to be inaccurate.”

More than half the alternative-route teachers the SRI researchers studied were either recent college graduates or were already involved in education, working in schools as classroom aides or private school teachers, for example. Only 5 percent of the participants previously had worked in math and science fields, the study found.

Those findings cut against some advocates’ claims that alternatively certified teachers tend to be midcareer professionals who often bring needed expertise in mathematics and science to schools, the researchers said.

Two percent of respondents came from the legal profession; 6 percent were in finance or accounting; and 59 percent got a pay raise when they became teachers.

The study, financed by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, surveyed more than 1,000 of 8,000-plus would-be teachers who joined such programs in the 2003-04 school year, both when they entered the programs and toward the end of their first year on the job.

The researchers also visited 10 to 13 teachers from each program for a closer look at their on-the-job experiences. The study was one of several presented at the conference. Its findings were published recently by Teachers College Record.

The SRI study also addressed the question of whether alternate routes to teaching bring more men and people from minority backgrounds into the classroom.

Overall, members of racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 40 percent of the participants in the programs studied—well above the national average for the teaching profession.

But the percentages varied markedly from program to program. In the North Carolina Teachers of Excellence for All Children program, an initiative aimed at career-switchers known as NC TEACH, 23 percent of the teacher-candidates came from minority groups. That was far lower than the 80 percent minority representation in Milwaukee’s Multicultural Teacher Education Program.

“We assumed they were going to be more diverse than the general population,” Mr. Humphrey said, “but they actually mirrored the local labor market.”

Pool Largely Female

The alternative routes the researchers studied tended to draw percentages of men that were slightly higher than the proportion of males in the nation’s teaching force. But the candidate pool was still overwhelmingly female, they said.

Among the participants at the IES conference who questioned the think tank’s findings was Michael Podgursky, an economics professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He suggested that the researchers should have compared the alternate-route teachers to new teachers entering the same schools though more traditional routes, rather than from the local labor pool.

The study’s findings differ from those of a survey published earlier this year by the National Center for Education Information, a private Washington-based research group that tracks alternative-certification programs. That survey found higher percentages of men and older career-switchers taking alternate routes into the field.

C. Emily Feistritzer, the author of that report and the center’s president, said she stands by her study, in part because it was based on a larger group of respondents—2,647 alternatively certified teachers.

Besides NC TEACH and the Milwaukee program, the programs the SRI researchers tracked were: the New Jersey Provisional Teacher Program; the Texas Region XIII Education Service Center’s Educator Certification Program; the New York City Teaching Fellows; Teach for America; and the Teacher Education Institute in California’s Elk Grove Unified School District.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 28, 2005 edition of Education Week as Teachers From Alternate Routes Scrutinized

Events

School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Biden Taps Ex-Obama Aide Roberto Rodriguez for Key Education Department Job
Rodriguez served as a top education staffer to President Barack Obama and currently leads a teacher-advocacy organization.
3 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
Getty
Federal Biden Pitches Plan to Expand Universal Pre-K, Free School Meal Programs, Teacher Training
The president's $1.8 trillion American Families Plan faces strong headwinds as Congress considers other costly administration proposals.
8 min read
President Joe Biden addresses Congress from the House chamber. Behind him are Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, as Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., applaud.<br/>
Chip Somodevilla/AP
Federal Education Department Kicks Off Summer Learning Collaborative
The Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative will boost programs for students acutely affected by COVID-19 in 46 states.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, left, talks with Fort LeBoeuf Middle School teacher Laura Friedman during a discussion on safely returning to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic on March 3, 2021.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, left, talks with Fort LeBoeuf Middle School teacher Laura Friedman during a discussion on safely returning to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News via TNS
Federal As 100-Day Mark Approaches, Has Biden Met His School Reopening Goal? And What Comes Next?
President Joe Biden faces a self-imposed deadline of having most K-8 schools open for in-person learning by his hundredth day in office.
6 min read
First Lady Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tour Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, in Meriden, Ct., on March 3, 2021.
First lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tour Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, in Meriden, Ct., in March.
Mandel Ngan/AP