Academic journal article High School Journal

A Comparison of the Professional Concerns of Traditionally Prepared and Alternatively Licensed New Teachers

Academic journal article High School Journal

A Comparison of the Professional Concerns of Traditionally Prepared and Alternatively Licensed New Teachers

Article excerpt

Introduction

In large urban school districts across the country, shortages of teachers who are qualified for and interested in working in critical content areas are reality. Alternative licensing routes, broadly defined as licensure programs not requiring traditional university teacher preparation work, are increasing in number and variety of structures. The 1980'S marked the beginning of teacher shortages in math and science classrooms in high-needs, inner city schools serving minority and disadvantaged students (Holmes, 2001; Roth, 1986). The smaller candidate pool left districts with the greatest needs facing the most difficulty attracting and retaining quality teachers; these effects are particularly detrimental to students in urban, poor, and isolated rural areas (Baker & Smith, 1997; Eubanks 1996; Ingersoll, 1997; Roth & Pipho, 1990; Sykes, 1983).

Recurring interest in alternative teacher licensure reflects teacher shortage concerns, but additionally reflects concerns regarding content preparation of teachers and the more recently emerging concern regarding the commitment of individuals entering the teaching profession (Holmes, 2001; Kwiatkowski, 1999). Kwiatkowski (1999) asserts that many young teachers do not see teaching as a long-term career, estimating that the profession will have lost 40 to 50 percent of first-year teachers within seven years.

In Colorado, a new licensure option, Teachers in Residence (TiR), was enacted by the Colorado Department of Education to allow non-licensed teachers to work in schools as fully invested first-year teachers while earning a license. An evaluation was initiated through Metro State College, the Colorado Partnership for Educational Renewal, and the Research and Development Center for the Advancement of Student Learning at Colorado State University to study the short- and long-term experiences associated with this alternative licensure route. The present study offers results from one component of this evaluation, a comparison of first-year teaching concerns of the TiR group with a group of traditionally prepared teachers. Research has shown that teaching-related concerns can be plentiful during the early years of teaching (Beach & Pearson, 1998; Miller, McKenna, & McKenna, 1998). The findings presented in this study will align with previous research to provide information for higher education and school district programs that prepare and mentor alternatively licensed teachers.

Procedure

Participants for the present study were 237 first-year teachers who received their teacher preparation in traditional teacher university licensure programs in Colorado and 154 first-year teachers in the Metro State College Teachers in Residence (TiR) program. In May of 2001, at the end of their first year of teaching, TiR participants completed a survey that assessed general areas of concern for beginning teachers. This survey was the same instrument that had been used exactly one year prior (May of 2000) to assess new teachers concerns in general. The prior study had surveyed first-year traditionally prepared teachers in the greater Denver area.

Items were presented on the survey with this leading instruction: "Following are commonly-voiced concerns of beginning teachers. Circle the number that most accurately rates the degree to which each caused apprehension or uneasiness in your first year of teaching." Possible responses were on a scale from 1 ("caused no apprehension") to 5 ("caused high level of apprehension"). To aid with data interpretation, the survey items were also arranged into logical clusters, forming three dimensions which differentiate the types of professional development that may be useful to first-year teachers: Effective Instruction, Classroom Environment, and Collegial Relationships. Three items did not fall into any of the dimensions, and were grouped into a fourth category of Other. Table I lists the survey items by dimension. …

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