Friday, February 20, 2009

Alternative Certification No Better No Worse

Oh no, Ed Week, Say it ain't so.

Students who have teachers certified through alternative-training programs do no worse in mathematics or reading achievement than students whose teachers have been certified by traditional teacher education programs, according to a study released today by Mathematica Policy Research Inc.

The study, which was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, also found no correlation between teacher effectiveness and the amount of coursework that teachers received as part of their alternative or traditional teacher-training programs.

But Jane Leibbrand does not agree.

Jane Leibbrand, the vice president of communications for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, who had not yet had a chance to read the Mathematica study, said, however, that previous studies have shown otherwise. “A number of studies have shown that fully prepared and licensed teachers do make a difference with student achievement,” she said.
“Some alternate routes are of high quality, but many are mediocre to low-quality,” Ms. Leibbrand added. “Alternate-route programs often do not have to meet the same standards as traditional programs must meet.”

The study avoided the most selective programs, such as Teach For America, in order to compare more closely to typical traditional routes. Colleges of education are not very selective, so the study chose alternative programs that were also not very selective. Given the number of traditionally certified teachers who dismiss their education training as worthless, the study's conclusion is not surprising.

The number of course hours taken by teachers didn’t affect student achievement, according to the study.

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