April 19 2011

Policy Focus: Alternative Teacher Certification

newsletter Too many students don’t get a quality education from our public schools. National test scores and graduation rates show millions leave K-12 public schools unprepared for college and the workforce.

Researchers know having a good teacher is one key to a student’s success. Unfortunately, the system used by too many school systems fails to put in place (and then retain) great teachers.

Expanding the pool of people eligible to become public school teachers is key to improving the quality of the teaching workforce. Typically, schools required that applicants have a teacher certification or license. Getting those credentials require education-specific coursework, a costly and timeconsuming process, which drives many potential teachers out of the field. Troublingly, research shows that a teaching certificate doesn’t guarantee a teacher’s classroom success, and isn’t associated with better student performance.

One promising strategy for improving teacher quality is alternative teacher certification programs. These programs allow candidates to earn a license by meeting certain requirements—including having a college degree and passing a background check—and demonstrating mastery of subject-area knowledge. This makes it easier for many qualified candidates to apply.

A growing body of empirical evidence suggests that creating real alternative certification options for aspiring teachers is a promising way to modernize the teaching profession, bring new talent into the classroom, and improve the overall quality of public education in America. That’s great news for millions of enthusiastic, educated women who may want to consider jobs teaching, and for all the parents who want their children to get the education they need and deserve.

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