Certification route doesn’t matter

Alternatively certified elementary teachers are as effective as those who took a traditional path to certification, concludes a Mathematica study for the U.S. Education Department. It didn’t matter whether the teacher prep program required many hours of coursework or just a few: Students’ reading and math scores were the same. However, scores were lower for students whose teachers were taking coursework while teaching.

The study tracked 2,600 students in 63 schools in six states.

Total hours required by alternative certification programs varied by state and ranged from 75 to 795, and by traditional programs, from 240 to 1,380.

. . . Average scores on college entrance exams, selectivity of the college awarding the bachelor’s degree, and level of educational attainment were similar for alternative and traditionally certified teachers.

Alternatively certified teachers were more likely to be black and  less likely to have majored in education.

In U.S. News, Andrew Rotherham wonders why Teach for America is the target of so much vitriol. The young teachers are as good as traditional teachers — and one third stay in the classroom for the long haul, while others bring their classroom experience to other education jobs and endeavors.

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  1. LAUSD Teacher says:

    So, can we take a look at BTSA in California which requires newly credentialed teachers to undergo an additional two years of intense classes and portfolio creation before they earn their “clear” credential all while they are struggling to keep their head above water in their first two years of teaching.

  2. Ultimately, most of the pre-teaching certification programs are useless. Teaching is something you learn by doing it… learning all the theory in the world means squat to those who have never set foot in a classroom.

  3. No one should be surprised by these results.

  4. Based on a grand total of 174 teachers.

  5. Combine the first two comments, and the story makes sense.

    Teacher credentialing programs are a joke, both alternative and traditional, and that’s why student outcomes are the same. Teachers get better by *doing*.

  6. I can’t agree with all of your statements, Darren. I went through an excellent program that made sure we had spent hundreds of hours in the classroom before we graduated, most of it teaching under the guidance of established pros.

  7. MiT-
    You just supported the argument that experiece is key. I also participated in a credentialing program that focused primarily on classroom experience – the deans of the program would often make fun of the courses they had to teach us due to state requirements.
    That being said, few credentialing programs provide the experience that you and I had prior to being employed.
    In the end, the key factor that provides growth as a teacher is classroom experience, whether it occurs as part of a credentialing program or otherwise.


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