Academic journal article Research and Issues in Music Education (RIME)

Backgrounds, Teaching Responsibilities, and Motivations of Music Education Candidates Enrolled in Alternative Certification Music Education Programs

Academic journal article Research and Issues in Music Education (RIME)

Backgrounds, Teaching Responsibilities, and Motivations of Music Education Candidates Enrolled in Alternative Certification Music Education Programs

Article excerpt

Introduction

Alternative teacher certification (ATC) refers to a variety of routes in becoming a credentialed teacher, from emergency certification to outlined programs of study (Feistritzer, 2000). Although the majority of new teachers still earn undergraduate education degrees from state-approved teacher-training programs, ATC programs permit career changers or nontraditional teaching candidates to earn teaching licenses. ATC programs are designed for individuals who have earned baccalaureate degrees in areas other than education and have work experience in careers other than teaching. Alternative certification programs also provide participants with accelerated instruction, which sometimes occurs when entering the field of teaching as a teacher of record.

Teacher education programs that allow candidates to earn certification while beginning a full-time teaching position have expanded greatly over the last 25 years (Feistritzer, 2007). Eight states had some option other than traditional college teacher education program in 1983. Today, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have some alternate route to teacher certification, representing 130 different programs. The National Center for Education Information (NCEI) estimates that approximately 59,000 individuals were issued teaching certificates through alternative routes in 2005 - 2006, representing approximately one-third of new teachers hired nationwide (Feistritzer, 2007; NCEI, 2007).

Educational researchers have found that alternative certification candidates rate the effectiveness of alternate certification programs very positively. Research based on student achievement is less conclusive. According to national surveys of teachers across disciplines, researchers have concluded that alternative certification programs served to (a) reduce teacher shortages, (b) increase the racial and gender diversity of teaching force, and (c) reduce shortages in urban schools (Shen, 1997; Feistritzer, 2005). Research on the longevity of music teachers reveals that alternatively certified teachers are more susceptible to attrition than traditionally certified teachers in the first few years of teaching (Hancock, 2010). Alternatively certified candidates report that they perceive themselves as competent to teach and expect to remain in teaching (Fesitritzer, 2005), but this has not been demonstrated by the available longitudinal data (Shen,1997; Wayne & Youngs, 2003). Although the effectiveness of alternatively certified teachers remains controversial, this is a significant trend in teacher preparation. Determining the motivations of these candidates could provide valuable insights for music teacher educators who work with students in alternative certification programs.

Researchers have found that music, personal identity, and beliefs about teaching and other people are important factors that motivate people to pursue teaching and music performance (e.g. Bergee et al, 2001; Feistritzer, 2005; Nagy & Wang, 2007; Parkes & Smith, 2009). Survey results of both traditional and alternative teacher candidates indicate that candidates pursue music teaching in order to (a) work with young people (Bergee et al, 2001; Feistritzer, 2005; Nagy & Wang, 2005; Roberts, 1993), (b) work in music (Bergee et al, 2001; Hellman, 2008; Parkes, 2009), (c) make a difference (Bergee et al 2001; Hellman, 2008), and (d) do what they were meant to do (Parkes, 2009). Conversely, undergraduates intending to pursue music performance have often been inspired by (a) enjoyment of playing music, (b) confidence in their ability, and (c) beliefs in the usefulness of music performance, (Parkes, 2009). Some alternative candidates decide to pursue teaching as means to change careers, which may be why alternative candidates are concerned with practical matters for entering the teaching profession such as salary, benefits, work environment, and a family-compatible schedule (Feistritzer, 2005). …

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