Academic journal article Education

Going the Alternate Route: Perceptions from Non-Credentialed Teachers

Academic journal article Education

Going the Alternate Route: Perceptions from Non-Credentialed Teachers

Article excerpt

My experience in my parents' classrooms really prepared me for what a 'real' classroom would operate like. Hands-on experience in their rooms was very beneficial for me. Second, my methods courses helped out tremendously (especially the off-campus) course. Thirdly, my experience with Sunday school, teaching on a German exchange program, and coaching high-school track and soccer. (An emergency permit teacher)

Since publication of A Nation At Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983) first brought teaching and teacher education under public scrutiny, alternate routes to certification have taken up increasing space on the teacher preparation agenda. Publicly funded alternate route programs initiated by state, university and college, and school districts, as well as independent programs such as Teach for America, have sprung up nation wide so that nearly every state has some form of alternative certification (Feistritzer & Chester, 1998). The Department of Education has devoted large portions of the first Title II report on teacher quality to a severe criticism of traditional teacher education and has extolled the virtues of alternate route certification as a means of recruiting highly qualified candidates to teaching and breaking the putative monopoly on teacher preparation held by colleges and universities (U. S. Department of Education, 2002).

Alternate routes typically seek to fast-track or circumvent traditional university-based teacher education, even when they are sponsored by or in partnership with universities or colleges. Some see Alternate routes as a serious threat to university sponsored professional preparation (Roth, 1986). Some disparage teacher preparation as it currently exists and welcome its overhaul or even removal from the academy (Innerst, 1999; Ballou & Podgursky, 2000; Hess, 2001; U. S. Department of Education, 2002). Still others hold that the issue is not over which agency prepares teachers, but "over the timing and institutional context for teacher preparation, and about the mix of professional knowledge and skills to be acquired" (Stoddart & Floden, 1996, p. 90).

Multiple reasons are given for alternate routes (Feistritzer & Chester, 1998): they offer greater access to teaching for nontraditional candidates; they are better at providing teachers to under-served geographical areas; they attract candidates to subject areas of perennial shortage such as science and math; they draw in promising candidates who might otherwise pursue different careers (Darling-Hammond & Cobb, 1996); they permit candidates to bypass needless hurdles put up by traditional teacher education programs (Hess, 2001; U. S. Department of Education; 2002). In California, alternate routes have served to lessen the historical shortage of special education and bilingual teachers (Institute for Education Reform, 1996; McKibben & Schrup, 1995; Gunderson & Karage, 1992).

The research on alternative certification is mixed (Ashton, 1996; Darling-Hammond & Cobb, 1996; Dill, 1996; Shen, 1997; Sandlin, Young & Karge, 1998; Stone & Mata, 1998). Darling-Hammond and Cobb (1996, p. 41), in their review of several studies, maintain that "fully prepared and certified teachers are generally more highly rated and more successful with students than teachers without full preparation." Teachers who complete traditional preservice preparation before beginning teaching are superior to Alternate route teachers on virtually every dimension of teaching, including classroom management, curriculum development, repertoire of teaching strategies, knowledge of students, awareness of differing learning styles, and ability to assess for evaluative as well as instructional planning purposes. The linking of a theoretical, research-based foundation with practical clinical experiences is central to university-based teacher education and distinguishes it from alternate routes unconnected with the academy (Darling-Hammond and Cobb, 1996). …

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