The Fourteenth in a Series: Why Alternative Teacher Certification Programs and Research-Based Teacher Selection Together are Uniquely Designed to Meet the Needs of at-Risk Students

Can Alternative Teacher Certification Solve the Teacher Shortage and Re-enfranchise At-Risk Youth?
The Research is in and the Answer is "Yes"!
Vicky S. Dill, Ph.D. Delia Stafford-Johnson

From The National Center for Alternative Teacher Certification Information: News Flash!
ELEVENTH ANNUAL ALTERNATIVE TEACHER CERTIFICATION CONFERENCE AFFIRMS THE VALIDITY OF ALTERNATIVE TEACHER CERTIFICATION; SOME RESULTS ARE REMARKABLE

The eleventh Annual Meeting of The National Alternative Teacher Certification Association was held on Padre Island April 18-20. It was a celebratory time! The fledging organization is no longer a fledgling; much growth has occurred. Participants heard about a variety of programs,’ processes and research. Programs from around the nation were heard. Indeed, input from California, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, as well as Great Britain and Mexico was heard. Online certification and support, Troops to Teachers, private 501C3 programs, the Sylvan model and more were all explored.

Effectiveness studies, retention studies, studies of test scores, standards, assessment, and benchmarks were all discussed. The unassailable conclusion was heard all around: alternative teacher certification works to address the shortage, improve the likelihood that at-risk children will receive a good teacher, and to build bridges between aspects of higher education and master teacher district level activities. Uniformly, alternative teacher certification program candidates and their students score as well on state tests as their traditionally prepared counterparts; however, alternatively prepared teachers tend to be older and more diverse.

From Santa Cruz to New York: How Many?

What do you discover when you advertise for applicants for an alternative teacher certification program? What do you think you would find if you asked just for motive - who wants to teach? How many applicants respond?

THOUSANDS!

Nationally and internationally, program directors indicate that interest in teaching is widespread and reliable. Programs throughout the last decade have consistently had four or five times as many applicants as they can accept. The limitation is not on the number of individuals wanting to teach, but on the resources of the individual programs to supply high quality training. Preliminary figures from the alternative teacher certification program in New York City suggest that the first year two hundred fifty candidates were selected from an applicant pool of 2300; the second year, 1500 will be selected from a pool of 7800. This is for a program in which the required grade point average is a 3.0 and the average age is 33. Similarly, Massachusetts had more than 900 applicants for its 105 openings. Clearly, a wide and deep candidate pool enables recruiters and trainers to properly screen for core values and to train individually. Programs like this around the nation are supplying numerous children a mature teacher who wants to “make a difference” in the life of that child.

Research Results

When doubters about the validity of alternative teacher certification to play an increasingly significant role in meeting the two million teacher shortage the nation faces, they often ask, “What about the research? Are these thirty minute wonders any good?”

Asked that way, the question is designed to imply simultaneously that 1) no alternative plan is as good as the original or traditional plan, and 2) the individual asking the question has supported the righteous cause of having a prepared teacher in front of every child and alternative certification cannot help. Little could be further from the truth. From Santa Cruz to New York, high quality alternative teacher certification programs are responding to the need to place more teachers in the public schools. The teachers tend to be older, more oriented towards reform, and more diverse. The standards for alternative teacher certification programs are as much a sure shot as are the standards for a traditional program: there are excellent and mediocre or failing examples of both everywhere. However, it is simply manifestly true that alternative routes, well managed and responsive to their clients’ needs, work exceptionally well. Thirteen years of research attest to this reality. From the 1984-1985 school year until now, models have proliferated and new ways to succeed have been discovered. By 2001, the rare state that does not have alternative teacher certification somewhere on the books is in the process of trying to get it.

Rookie Meets the Press

Even Time magazine (Volume 157, No. 14, pp. 66ff) has uncovered the trend of midcareer individuals coming into the teaching profession. They highlighted a judge-turned-math-teacher, a pipe designer-turned-math- teacher, and a lawyer-turned-science teacher. While almost a universal, midcareer as well as traditional candidates marvel at the complexity of teaching and how challenging it is. Yet more mature individuals tend to stay longer and get more out of students. Says Time writer Desa Philadelphia, “Schools are making it easier for all sorts of professionals to switch to a teaching career - and find personal fulfillment.”

That’s what it’s all about. Students and children need to know their teacher is happy to teach and be with them and can build and maintain a relationship that will help kids grow. As students become ever more streetwise and ever more diverse, it seems incumbent on us to find individuals who can teach whose cultural background is consistent with that of the students. It doesn’t matter how much content an individual has or how much pedagogy; what matters is whether or not a teacher can build and maintain relationships. After that the achievement comes. In sum, there is ample evidence that, structured properly, an alternative teacher certification program is a viable solution to the teacher shortage. That’s good news for principals. It’s even better news for kids - those whose fate is surely changed by that one teacher who can and does make a difference!

For further information about how you can develop an alternative teacher certification program, about teacher selection and training, or principal selection and training, see www.altcert.org <http://www.altcert.org/> or call The National Center for Alternative Teacher Certification at 713-667-6185. Thank you.

For many years Dr. Dill worked at The Texas Education Agency reviewing traditional teacher education programs and building alternative program and has many years of experience in teacher education in colleges and university. Dr. Dill authored A Peaceable School: Creating a Culture of Non-Violence published by Phi Delta Kappa (1999). Dr. Dill is currently Associate Director of Special Programs for Round Rock ISD (Round Rock, TX) and Senior Researcher for The Haberman Foundation/NCATCI. Delia Stafford-Johnson is President and CEO of The Haberman Educational Foundation/National Center for Alternative Teacher Certification Information (NCATCI). For ten years, she was Director of the first alternative teacher certification program in Texas started in the Houston Independent School District and has twice been honored by President Bush at the White House for her work in teacher education.

For further information about how your school or university can develop Alternative Teacher Certification programs, please contact The National Center for Alternative Teacher Certification Information at http://www.altcert.org or call 713-667-6185.
Vicky S. Dill, Ph.D. Delia Stafford-Johnson

For many years Dr. Dill worked at The Texas Education Agency reviewing traditional teacher education programs and building alternative program and has many years of experience in teacher education in colleges and university. Dr. Dill authored A Peaceable School: Creating a Culture of Non-Violence published by Phi Delta Kappa (1999). Dr. Dill is currently Associate Director of Special Programs for Round Rock ISD (Round Rock, TX) and Senior Researcher for The Haberman Foundation/NCATCI. Delia Stafford-Johnson is President and CEO of The Haberman Educational Foundation/National Center for Alternative Teacher Certification Information (NCATCI). For ten years, she was Director of the first alternative teacher certification program in Texas started in the Houston Independent School District and has twice been honored by President Bush at the White House for her work in teacher education.

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