For years, the path to the classroom was exclusively paved through a program of study in a university-based teacher preparation program and ultimately a teaching license. However, in recent years, various "alternative certification" programs have been developed in order to allow degreed professionals practical avenues to become teachers. With participation in these programs skyrocketing in the last five years, many have speculated that these teachers will leave a lasting impact not only on students, but on the teaching preparation process nationwide.
In order to answer questions about these new and emerging programs, a new study by Tim R. Sass of Georgia State University, compares alternative certification teachers to traditional preparation teachers based on their academic backgrounds and value-added assessments. The findings, based on data in Florida, suggest that those educators who seek certification via alternative routes are often more prepared and more effective in the classroom.
According to the findings, teachers who obtain certification through the three distinctly alternative routes (district alternative certification, Educator Preparation Institutes and ABCTE) have stronger credentials than graduates of traditional Florida teacher preparation programs. Typically, a greater proportion of educators graduated from the most competitive colleges and fewer graduated from the least competitive colleges.
In comparing educators standardized test scores, combined SAT scores are significantly higher for alternatively certified teachers, about 100 points greater for district alternative certification and EPI teachers and over 150 points greater for ABCTE teachers.
While these teachers are considered more prepared based on impressive academic backgrounds, teaching performance is also telling. According to the Florida data, the performance of ABCTE teachers in teaching math is substantially better, on average, than for preparation program graduates. Across all specifications and tests, ABCTE teachers boost math achievement by an astonishing 6-11% more than do traditionally prepared teachers.
These results build a strong case for the reform of teacher preparation and the flexibility needed in allowing talented and experienced professionals an easier path to the classroom. While reformers have championed alternative certification initiatives for years, teachers are also seeing the potential in these programs. According to the 2011 AAE Membership Survey, our members overwhelmingly support (71%) new policies and programs designed to develop, attract, and sustain effective teachers. Clearly, studies like these will be critical in promoting and expanding alternative certification programs across the country.
What do you think about the study results?
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Your principal is trying to create an environment in which the staff at your school works together more effectively and has asked for your help. Write a memo to your fellow teachers on this topic. In this memo include why it is important for staff to collaborate, possible ways this might be accomplished, and the potential challenges of collaboration.
Your response will be evaluated based on how well you communicate your message to the intended audience, not on your personal opinions, position, or point of view. Your response will be evaluated based on how well organized and focused your writing is, how well you develop and elaborate on your ideas, and your grammar and mechanics.
Think of the benefits that you see in the classroom when your students work together on a project. By sharing their different perspectives, a collaborative group generates more ideas than one student does alone. By working with each other, the strengths of each student can be used to make group projects better. One student may bring artistic abilities. Another may bring the ability to express thoughts well in written language. Others may have strong verbal skills or the ability to think creatively. When all of these gifts come together, we see amazing results.
The same can be true when we work together as teachers. Each of us brings a unique mix of talents and abilities to this school. Our goal is to provide a quality education for the children. By working together, we can accomplish much more than any of us could accomplish alone. We can share ideas, giving each of us more options from which to choose when lessons are planned. This sharing will also, no doubt, spark more creativity in our planning and classroom experiences. There is no need to "re-invent the wheel". We can use things that have worked for others and improve on things that haven't worked as well.
I have some suggestions for how we might work together more effectively. One possibility would be to have regularly scheduled team meetings for teachers working at the same grade level. We could discuss lesson plans and goals, sharing ideas and resources that can be used or adapted by others. I would also recommend that we take advantage of informal meetings to talk with each other about what is working well and what challenges we face. Ideas could also be shared through writing. If you have a good idea or a problem with which you need help, put it in an e-mail or on a note in the other teachers' mailboxes. Let's help each other find creative solutions! These are just some of the ways that we can take advantage of the gifts that we collectively possess. If you have other suggestions, please share them!
I know that we are all are very busy planning lessons, teaching and grading papers. It seems that there is always more work to do than what can be done. I do not want to add more to your workload by suggesting these meetings or other ways of sharing. I believe that as ideas are shared we could actually ease the workload by helping one another. Let's do all we can to help each other and to provide the best education for our students.