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Alternative Teacher Certification on the Rise
posted by: Cindy Omlin | August 03, 2011, 07:22 PM   

According to a new survey issued by the National Center for Education Information, programs that offer non-traditional paths toward a career in teaching, otherwise known as "alternative certification," are on the rise nationwide. In a climate where education advocates are calling for a new and highly effective teacher workforce, this survey is positive news for proponents of the growing and diverse alternative certification movement.

In the survey, released last week, 4 out of 10 new public school teachers hired since 2005 came through alternative teacher-preparation programs. That's up from 22 percent of new teachers hired between 2000 and 2004. The growth alone suggests that professionals from other disciplines are taking advantage of these programs to switch careers, as opposed to going through traditional colleges of education.

In addition, the survey found that alternative certification teachers are more likely to favor reform-minded policies such as performance pay and the elimination of tenure than their traditionally trained counterparts.

Furthermore, most teachers, regardless of certification route, support removing incompetent teachers without regard to seniority, otherwise known as opponents of "Last in, first out." Interestingly, all teachers surveyed were "slightly more satisfied with general working conditions and are more satisfied with the status of teachers in the community than were teachers surveyed in years past." Obviously, this result stands in contrast to recent union-leader sentiment toward reform agendas.

The findings suggest that teachers who come from private sector backgrounds and other careers via alternative certification identify with the new reform culture of accountability and performance-based incentives.

Further survey results find that the teaching workforce is becoming younger and less experienced. The proportion of teachers younger than age 30 doubled in the last five years with the percentage of teachers aged 50 and older dropping 11 percent since 2005. Clearly, as our teacher workforce retires, districts are seeing rises in younger teachers from less traditional certification paths.

Demographics of teachers remains steady, with 84 percent of public school teachers listed as female, up slightly from 2005. White teachers are still the majority with 84 percent; however, the figure is down from 91 percent in 1986. According to the report, alternative certification teachers also diversify the workforce in terms of gender and racial background.

While the report highlights many trends in education, the case for alternative certification remains strong as a means to attract new and diverse professionals to the workforce. What once was a profession of almost exclusively white females from colleges of education, alternative paths provide a window for many talented professional seeking a career change from all walks of life.

What are your thoughts about alternative certification programs?

Comment below.

Originally posted by Alix at AAE.

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