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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Study: Alt-cert teachers are a bit better

Traditionally trained teachers aren’t more effective than those with alternative certifications, according to a recent meta-analysis, reports Liana Loewus in Education Week.

Students whose teachers were trained in alternative teacher preparation programs such as Teach For America tend to perform slightly better academically than students whose teachers had traditional teacher training.

Students taught by Teach for America teachers tend to learn more than those with traditionally trained teachers.

“We found there really wasn’t much difference between the two [types of preparation programs], but the small difference we did find was in favor of alternative programs,” said Denise Whitford, an assistant professor of education at Purdue and co-author of the study.

Teachers who came into the profession through Teach for America were particularly effective, especially in math and science, researchers found. TFA “puts high-achieving college graduates into under-resourced classrooms after five weeks of training, notes Loewus.

TFA is known for its rigorous selection process, Whitford said.

Why aren’t conventionally trained teachers “vastly more effective” than alt-cert teachers, wonders Peter Cook on Retort. Eighty percent of new teachers spent time and money completing traditional teacher training programs, he writes. If they’re no better than “someone who took the shorter and less costly alternative route, what was the point?”

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