Academic journal article Education Next

Teacher Certification

Academic journal article Education Next

Teacher Certification

Article excerpt

Kane, Rockoff, and Staiger's findings ("Photo Finish: Certification Doesn't Guarantee a Winner," research, Winter 2007), supported by other recent research (including my own), are persuasive in suggesting that certification requirements do little to create or identify effective teachers. The findings might have been strengthened if measures of teacher ability had been included in the analysis, because the alternatively certified teachers in the study, from Teach For America (TFA) and the NYC Teaching Fellows program, represent high-achieving students from the nation's elite universities. Thus one might interpret the finding of little difference between regularly certified teachers and their more pedigreed peers to show that teacher certification requirements compensate for greater intellect or better overall undergraduate academic preparation.

The wide variation in quality within groups should come as no surprise, though documenting it with sound research is helpful. What is unexpected, and of concern to those who believe recruiting better-quality undergraduates will improve teacher quality, is that by year three the TFA alumni aren't doing substantially better than their regularly certified counterparts.

This thoughtful research raises important policy questions. Can we do without certification requirements? This study doesn't answer that question. What we really want to know is how to create effective teachers. If, as the authors suggest, classroom experience and not certification is linked to effective teaching, we might consider moving teacher preparation programs toward a model of more K-12 classroom experience, and away from coursework.


Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education

Vanderbilt University

Thank you for featuring research on the fundamental role of teachers in the achievement of New York City's students in "Photo Finish. …

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