Teaching Profession Report Roundup

Shortcut Paths to Teaching Linked to Higher Turnover

By Stephen Sawchuk — July 19, 2016 1 min read

Alternative-certification programs are bringing in scores more teachers of color, male teachers, and teachers who attended selective colleges than traditional programs. But teachers who enter the profession through such programs also appear to leave it at higher rates—a gap that has grown since 1999, a study concludes.

By 2007-08, teachers who entered the profession through alternative-certification programs were 2½ times more likely to leave it altogether than those who came in the traditional way, says the study by researchers from Vanderbilt University and the University of California, Riverside. It was published online last month in the American Educational Research Journal.

Alternative-path programs allow individuals to teach right away or after minimal training, while traditional certification programs usually require students to do some pedagogy coursework and student-teaching first.

The study draws on four waves of data, starting in 1999-2000, from a federal, nationally representative study of teachers. Because alternative-route graduates tend to work in hard-to-staff schools, the researchers accounted for working conditions via teachers’ reports of principal effectiveness, availability of materials, and class size, and measured teachers’ access to mentors. There weren’t big differences in turnover rates at the study’s start, but by 2007-08, alternative-route teachers were 83 percent more likely to turn over than traditionally trained teachers. And the turnover was driven largely by teachers leaving teaching altogether, rather than just changing schools.

A version of this article appeared in the July 20, 2016 edition of Education Week as Shortcut Paths to Teaching Linked to Higher Turnover

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