Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Alternative Certification Program Analysis

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Alternative Certification Program Analysis

Article excerpt


A thorough review of the literature on alternative certification from 1997 to 2002 was conducted. After coding 77 articles a qualitative interpretive perspective was used. The findings indicate that improved reporting of program characteristics is essential and clear distinctions between alternative and traditional pathways should be described. Of the 77 articles, 34% were qualitative, quantitative, or hybrid with the balance being program reports. Programs reporting the highest retention rates, commonly 80% or more over three years were also more likely to report student outcome data.

Alternative Certification Programs Analysis

The post secondary educational system is faced with increasing the numbers of highly qualified K-12 teachers. The enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) coupled by the projected shortage of teachers has resulted in policy reformations and investigations of various venues for meeting the demand (Cox, Matthews, & Assoc., 2001). In a recent announcement education secretary, Rod Paige, advocates the hiring of second career professionals to meet part of the need for new teachers. Schouten (2002) reported that Secretary Paige said, "states should eliminate obstacles--such as requiring formal teaching credentials--and open the teaching ranks to nontraditional applicants" (p. 1).

Qualified Teachers

Consensus is yet to be reached on what factors determine a highly qualified teacher from a teacher preparation standpoint. However, NCLBA classifies a teacher as being highly qualified if they hold "... at least a bachelor's degree from a four-year institution; hold full state certification; and demonstrate competency in their subject area" (U. S. DOE, 2003, p. 4). Passing a state certification exam, where the state develops the exam and establishes the passing score, meets the bar for demonstrating competency in a given subject area. While there is evidence that individual teachers influence student performance, there is no solid evidence on what teacher attributes are and how they are best acquired (Andrew, 1999). "About a third of all secondary school teachers who teach mathematics do not have a major or minor in mathematics, mathematics education, or related disciplines like engineering or physics" (Ingersoll, p. 27). This is even more prevalent for teachers in high-poverty and small schools, fewer than 300 students, where one is more likely to be teaching a core subject area out-of-field (Ingersoll, 1999). The National Commission on Teaching & America's Future (NCTAF) found that 27 percent of high school students are taught mathematics by out-of-field teachers and like Ingersoll, found that the percentage is much higher in high-poverty schools. In fact, 12 percent of all newly hired teachers enter the classroom without any preparation to teach (NCTAF, 2002).

It is important to determine what alternative certification (AC) programs produce effective teachers and what teacher characteristics are most important to student academic achievement. To complicate matters, variation exists on the design, implementation, and reporting of existing programs. The 2002 Secretary's Annual Report on Teacher Quality was flawed because most of the references were to newspaper articles and documents published by advocacy organizations. The report cites almost no research that would meet scientific standards and includes many unsupported statements about teacher education and teacher certification (Darling-Hammond & Youngs, 2002; U. S. DOE, 2003). Generally, professionals seeking certification through alternative certification programs (ACP) meet content standards in their expected field of study. Evidence suggests that a professional development based teacher preparation program produces better results than ones lacking professional development components because the former promotes teaching confidence and self-efficacy (e.g., Feistritzer, Hill, & Willett, 1998). …

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