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Study: Alternative Certification Program Yields Positive Results
posted by: Alix | February 07, 2012, 02:38 PM   

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?
Comment below.

Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Curt (Florida), September 08, 2012

I am a recent recipient of an ABCTE passport. I chose ABCTE's route of certification because of flexibility issues just like you cited here.

I fully support more flexibility and cost effectiveness of teacher certification programs, however I cannot stress enough how inadequate my ABCTE experience truly was.

I took my first exam, the Professional Teaching Knowledge (PTK) portion and scored very well on the multiple choice section. Then I received a failing essay score of 3. I don't think that the folks at ABCTE expected what happened next. I suppose they thought I would simply pay for a retake and move on with my life. (As I understand it, there is a high failure rate on the essays.)

I've been a writer and a teacher of writing for quite some time. Even as a child I had a command of language that astounded and impressed my teachers. As you can surely imagine, I was perturbed to say the very least when I received the failing score.

I asked to have my essay reviewed. After calling over fifty times and emailing twice, I called the public relations department and demanded to speak with someone in candidate services. The candidate services representative explained that I could have my essay reviewed for free as part of their program for success and she told me I would have to wait 3 days for the writing review.

Two weeks later I was lighting up their switchboard again, and once again there was no answer. I finally, after numerous calls, called the public relations desk again. I left my name and number with the man on the line and asked that the candidate services rep. return my call. When she did, she informed me that I was going to receive a free re-score and that it should take 6 weeks or less to process it. In the meantime I took my English Language Arts exam and passed with a "distinguished" score. Shortly after, I received a 5 out of 6 on my essay.

Twelve weeks after supposedly submitting my PTK essay for a re-score, and after many long hours on the phone, I was told that I passed the PTK exam essay with a 5. I only learned this information after having to call to obtain it myself and learning that the previous candidate services representative had "quit."

Apart from the AWFUL customer service, the truth is this: had I not already been teaching for four years, not received mentoring and training, and if I didn't have what we teachers call "the natural gift," I would be totally and completely unprepared to serve in the classroom.

ABCTE is not the answer. There should be no reason for a test based alternative certification program like ABCTE. There are already state examinations in place. Combined with a mentoring and on-the-job training program, passing the state exams should be highly sufficient.

Most teachers I know learned to be great teachers by teaching alongside great teachers.

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