Quotes on Teacher Certification & Alternatives

"When a man fits himself in America to teach history or chemistry, it scarcely seems to occur to him, or rather it scarcely seems to occur to those who prescribe his studies for him, that he ought to study history or chemistry. Instead, he studies merely 'education'. The study of education seems to be regarded as absolving a teacher from obtaining any knowledge of the subjects that he is undertaking to teach. And the pupils are being told, in effect, that the simple storing up in the mind of facts concerning the universe and human life is a drudgery from which they have now been emancipated; they are being told, in other words, that the great discovery has been made in modern times that it is possible to learn how to 'think' with a completely empty mind. It cannot be said that the result is impressive. In fact the untrammeled operation of the effects of this great American pedagogic discovery is placing American schools far behind the schools of the rest of the civilized world."

Dr. J. Gresham Machen
PCA Historical Center
August 1933
Library Topic
Library Topic: What is Education?

"While certification can serve to screen out aspirants who fail to meet a minimal performance standard, our current system is not designed to do so. Generally speaking, schools of education are not selective, fail out few if any students for inadequate performance, and see that more than 95 percent of their graduates receive teacher licenses."

Frederick M. Hess
21st Century Schools Project
Progressive Policy Institute
November 2001
Library Topic

"Sadly, the model currently embraced by champions of teacher certification is actually more akin to that of cosmetology than of law or medicine. In a field like the former, certification does not screen out the unskilled or provide an assurance of specialized mastery so much as it provides assurance that the aspirant has completed a prescribed course of study and logged mandatory practice hours."

Frederick M. Hess
21st Century Schools Project
Progressive Policy Institute
November 2001
Library Topic

"Certification makes gatekeepers of those who do the licensing. In a diverse nation marked by disagreements about what constitutes desirable pedagogy or a good curriculum, this poses a philosophical concern. During their training, prospective teachers are at a formative and impressionable stage. By entrusting schools of education with control over entry into teaching, certification lends the instructors a privileged position in sensitive social and moral discussion.

This would be of little concern if education faculty mirrored the divisions within the larger society, but such is not the case. Professors of education tend to espouse a 'constructivist' conception of pedagogy, curriculum, and schooling. It is received wisdom in teacher education that aggressive multiculturalism is a good thing, that aspiring white teachers ought to be forced to confront society’s ingrained racism, that girls are victims of gender discrimination in public schooling, and so on. While these are legitimate views, these are normative, subject to fierce debate, and often diverge sharply from those of most voters (as reflected in public opinion surveys). The result is that the state essentially endorses a particular and fairly radical philosophy, rather than permitting all approaches to compete on an equal basis in the real world of schooling."

Frederick M. Hess
21st Century Schools Project
Progressive Policy Institute
November 2001
Library Topic

"A particularly unfortunate consequence of certification is that it is counterproductive, discouraging those individuals who are more likely to produce greater student achievement from entering the profession. Nationally, teachers generally score about 40 to 70 points lower on their college entrance exams than do college graduates who choose other professions. Teachers who did not prepare in college for teaching careers, but who chose to teach anyway, were more likely to have scored in the top quartile of their entering college class than were those teachers who were prepared in college to teach."

Kate Walsh
The Abell Foundation
2001
Library Topic

“Grading standards in teacher-education programs were extremely low. At one public university, 78 percent of students who took courses in 'curriculum and foundations' received A’s. But on that same campus, only 18 percent of the grades earned in English or physics were A’s. A study of 14 state universities showed that the average grade in an education course was a full letter-grade higher than the average for a math course, and one-half grade higher than the average humanities grade.”

Eugene W. Hickok
Policy Review, No. 91
Hoover Institution
September 1, 1998
Library Topic

“The National Education Association has declared its objective to make licensure ‘a process controlled by the profession.’ It is clear to us that the profession has been doing little to ensure that new teachers have the knowledge base they need and much to ensure that colleges of education could expand their control of the preparation of public-school teachers. Although per-pupil expenditures in the United States are among the highest in the world, most reform efforts still assume that only more money will help our children. National and international studies, however, show that our high expenditures and intense focus on educational theory have not served us well where it matters: the academic performance of our schoolchildren.”

Eugene W. Hickok
Policy Review, No. 91
Hoover Institution
September 1, 1998
Library Topic

“The certification saga is a story of attempts by the teacher education establishment to gain monopoly control over the preparation and licensure of all teachers. That establishment has won enormous victories. As a result, a large majority of today’s teachers studied education both as undergraduates and as graduates. And therein lies the seed of a worthy reform: what the country needs is teachers who are broadly and deeply educated, not people who mostly studied education.”

Chester E. Finn Jr.
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
January 1, 2001
Library Topic

“The point is that alternative certification is, like so much in public education, bureaucratic and unnecessarily restrictive. There is no such thing as ‘holistic hiring,’ as is found in businesses, colleges, and private schools. The administrator ultimately responsible for hiring a teacher lacks the ability to say, ‘Your experience suggests that you need to fulfill this requirement, but these others can be waived.’ Alternative certification, like traditional certification, is still a matter of stipulations, credentials, and paperwork, to which no exceptions can be made.”

David Ruenzel
Vol. 2, No. 1
2002
Library Topic

“Alternative certification first emerged a quarter-century ago. The concept was straightforward: make it less cumbersome for talented individuals without teaching degrees to enter the classroom.

Straightforward, yes, but plenty controversial. Education schools and their faculties took predictable umbrage at the suggestion that individuals could teach effectively without their tutelage. They felt disrespected and saw their livelihoods threatened. All those tuition dollars and state appropriations.

Their allies in teacher unions, government licensing agencies, and trade associations also voiced concern that such a move would diminish the ‘professionalism’ of teaching. If specialized training were no longer necessary, it implied that ‘anyone’ could teach—and thus that teaching was not truly a ‘skilled’ vocation.”

Chester E. Finn Jr.
Michael J. Petrilli
Thomas B. Fordham Institute and National Council on Teacher Quality
September 2007
Library Topic

“…alternative certification has been co-opted, compromised, and diluted. Education schools—brilliantly turning a threat into an opportunity—have themselves come to dominate this enterprise, blurring the distinctions that once made it ‘alternative.’”

Chester E. Finn Jr.
Michael J. Petrilli
Thomas B. Fordham Institute and National Council on Teacher Quality
September 2007
Library Topic

“Teacher educators make too few demands on their students. Research papers that encourage or require aspiring teachers to present anyone’s perspective other than their own are a rarity. In a randomly selected subsample of 75 syllabi, only eight (11 percent) courses required any sort of research paper. Most writing assignments generally call for the students’ own feelings and observations. The most common assignment is a ‘literacy memoir,’ which asks students to reflect on how they themselves learned to read as young children.

Further, no effort to develop practical application of knowledge is evident. Students rarely have to demonstrate their knowledge by writing and delivering lesson plans that apply the tools of reading instruction in a classroom setting.

Many professors place more emphasis on keeping their courses fun than on learning. This approach results in activities in which students rely on their own devices to teach literacy rather than on learning how to use well-tested, scientifically sound approaches.”

Kate Walsh
Deborah Glaser
Danielle Dunne Wilcox
National Council on Teacher Quality
June 2006
Library Topic

“The big idea here is that if teaching effectiveness is unrelated to training, then education school, and the teaching license it provides, should not be a prerequisite to a career in teaching. In fact, the current certification system is probably keeping out many college graduates who have the potential to be talented teachers.”

Marcus A. Winters
The Washington Times
Manhattan Institute
August 15, 2008
Library Topic

"Instead of the current hodgepodge approach to teacher certification and licensing, we propose that all prospective teachers in the United States take a rigorous bar exam that gauges mastery of subject-matter knowledge and demonstrates competency in how to teach it. The process could be modeled after the bar exam for lawyers or the board certification of medical doctors.

Teacher preparation is a high national priority in the countries that consistently top international academic rankings. It is past time for the U.S. to follow a similar path. Practicing teachers in K-12 and higher education should own responsibility for setting and enforcing the teaching profession's standards."

Randi Weingarten
The Wall Street Journal
December 9, 2012
Library Topic
Library Topic: Teachers Unions 101

"I have worked as both a teacher and a lawyer. I was utterly petrified the first day I taught my own high-school students, whereas I was quite confident the first time I represented a client in a courtroom. My legal training included three years of formal study, clinical experience with established lawyers on real-world cases, and passing a grueling bar exam that the legal profession had deemed demonstrated the knowledge and ability to serve successfully as a new lawyer.

As an alternatively certified teacher, my preparation consisted of condensed coursework and valuable but limited student teaching—far less than I needed. Surveys of teachers show that many who go through traditional teacher-preparation programs feel they aren't adequately prepared to manage and teach students early in their career. Alternatively certified teachers feel even less prepared. Yet teachers assume an enormous responsibility from day one. And when they struggle, the response is too often the threat of termination, not an offer of assistance."

Randi Weingarten
The Wall Street Journal
December 9, 2012
Library Topic
Library Topic: Teachers Unions 101
Library Topic

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Commentary or Blog Post

In light of the NCLB legislation, this article describes the effectiveness of alternative forms of teacher certification. Alternative certification has grown in popularity in recent years, but as the article notes, the results have been mixed. Some studies demonstrate that alternative certification is fast and also effective in producing well educated children,...

This article plays host to the two sides of the teacher certification debate in the state of Arizona. Arwynn Mattix comes from a pro-charter school background and argues that the shortage of teachers and the improved test scores of children under alternatively certified teachers offer strong support for acceptance of this idea. John Wright, the head of a statewide...

Based on his extensive research on alternative teacher certification through the years, Mitch Pearlstein compiles a brief look at several key tidbits which show that alternative teacher certification is just as effective, if not more effective, than traditional certification. Pearlstein encourages alternative certification because he believes it directly improves...

In this article, Katherine Kersten seeks to reveal the University of Minnesota’s future aims in regards to the education of teachers. According to Kersten, U of M seems to be seeking to completely revamp the ideologies of its teaching students by practically forcing them to accept progressive philosophies that the university approves of. This article goes on to...

This short piece points out that solid teaching credentials do not necessarily make a good teacher. Unfortunately for America’s schools, certification standards are keeping potentially good teachers out of the market while at the same time keeping demonstrably bad ones in. Hess recommends that the solution to this problem is to "Overhaul state licensure systems."...

In this article, the "Pennsylvania education chief" describes what he believes is the major problem in teacher education programs, namely, low educational standards. Hickok writes that many educational programs expect less of their students in terms of achievement than other courses of study do, and due to this fact, Hickok suggests a variety of reforms that could...

Ms. Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, proposes a national "bar exam" for strengthening entry into the teaching profession.

This article addresses the issue of budget cuts in the New York public schools. According to Winters, the public school system would be wiser and more fiscally prudent if they cut teachers with seniority rather than teachers who are relatively new on the scene. Winters’ reasoning for this is that many newer teachers have had to pass through stricter proficiency...

In this interview, Linda Darling-Hammond opines that many education reforms have not worked because they have focused on the student and not the teacher. In her eyes, education schools show a great need for improvement, and to do this, Darling-Hammond implies that stricter certification standards are needed.

In commenting on the 2008 presidential election, Marcus Winters notes the little exposure given to education matters. While debate on this topic was minimal, Winters does approve of one of the candidates’ idea to promote alternative teacher certification. This article briefly traces some of the pros and cons of alternative teacher certification and suggests that an...

TIME weighs the pros and cons of alternative teacher certification in light of the growing teacher shortage in New York. Although alternative certification programs are met with enthusiasm on the part of non-teacher professionals, many in the education arena skeptically condemn the idea that anyone besides a properly trained teacher can effectively handle...

Contrary to popular opinion, Sol Stern believes that the shortage of certified teachers in New York is not a major problem. Stern suggests that many of the so-called unqualified and uncertified teachers are actually talented individuals who have the potential to greatly advance quality education in the schools. This article discusses the success that New Jersey...

Chart or Graph

This chart lists the National Council on Teacher Quality's state by state teacher grade.

This graph demonstrates the monopoly and influence that traditional certification programs have over teachers in California.

Teaching reading is a key element of education, but unfortunately, according to this chart, many education schools are not effectively teaching their students how to properly train children to read.

Number of public high school-level teachers who reported a particular main assignment and the percentage with a major and certification in that main assignment, by subject of main assignment: 2007–08

"For 2011, Florida received the highest overall teacher policy grade with a B, and three other states – Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Tennessee – earned B minuses."

This chart indicates the level of teacher proficiency that each state tests for. Ten states do not have a teacher academic proficiency test.

As the title suggests, this chart describes the differences in requirements for true alternative teacher certification and traditional teacher certification.

Analysis Report White Paper

This fifth annual edition of the Yearbook documents more changes in state teacher policy than NCTQ has seen in any of its previous top-to-bottom reviews of the laws and regulations governing the teaching profession in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This report explores the original aims and ideals of alternative teacher certification and the gradual shift away from this ideal that has occurred over the years. Walsh and Jacobs surveyed a variety of "alternative" education programs and found that many operate no differently than traditional undergraduate education programs.

This online anthology compiles a number of frequently cited studies and works that discuss a variety of issues dealing with teacher education.

This report compiles a variety of education research in the attempt to determine whether or not official teacher certification is more effective than alternative certification.

Hess, Rotherham, and Walsh recognize that there is a deficit of highly qualified teachers, and claim it is the direct result of poor teacher training programs. The authors also present some of the relevant ideas on alternative teacher certification and discuss whether or not the evidence backs up its claims of success.

"This study is designed to provide historical background and context for current debates about education policy, indicate how we arrived at our present process of teacher education and certification, identify recurring themes in that history, and demonstrate that the current approach to teacher education was neither inevitable nor immutable."

In response to Kate Walsh’s acclaimed study on teacher certification, Linda Darling-Hammond attempts to combat Walsh’s findings against certification with her own findings in favor of certification.

According to Hess, the education establishment is not keeping up with the vocational and geographic mobility that is prevalent in our culture, and that many schools are missing out on the opportunity to have highly talented and educated, yet older adults, pass on their knowledge to children.

This paper by Kate Walsh is one of the most widely cited pieces in studies that address certification standards for teachers. Walsh attempts to break down the research commonly used by those who lobby for higher standards in teacher certification.

In order to present his reformatory ideas, Hess lays out the history of teacher certification and the pros and cons of the current system. In all, this paper seeks to promote the idea that current teacher certification has many downfalls that could be overcome by thinking outside the box.

Although Hess has a conservative, reformative ideology when it comes to teacher certification, this article demonstrates his appeal for a rational, logical look at the entire issue. This piece traces the history and growth of teacher certification, while also explaining the two different viewpoints over this subject.

This manifesto outlines the current course of action in education schools, the reasons why this course of action is ineffective, and multiple ideas which could improve the current situation of teacher quality and quantity in the nation’s high school and elementary academic institutions.

In David Ruenzel’s eyes, the California teacher shortage and the potential for alternative teacher certification seem to be a match made in heaven. Despite this seemingly ideal situation, Ruenzel reveals the extreme difficulty that qualified, but uncertified individuals have to endure in order to even make it into a classroom.

According to the authors of this report, extensive scientific research has been done throughout the years, which shows that there are five basic elements to teaching reading. While this research has been thoroughly proved time and time again, many education schools consistently fail to teach these elements to their teachers in training.

Video/Podcast/Media

This interview features "C. Emily Feistritzer, PhD, President and CEO of the National Center for Alternative Certification (NCAC). Dr. Feistritzer discusses how alternative certification programs can differ from traditional education programs and offers advice for people interested in becoming teachers."

This video acknowledges that there is a need for change and reform in teacher education, but it subtly implies that this change should revolve around progressive policies and ideas. Several of the speakers infer that "education schools" should be teaching their students to be "relevant to the future," instead of focusing on how to train children through traditional...

Primary Document

"This report examines the postsecondary majors and teaching certifications of public high school-level teachers of departmentalized classes ... in a selection of subject areas by using data from the 2007–08 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), a sample survey of elementary and secondary schools in the United States. SASS collects data on American public, private, and Bureau of Indian Education...

"I’m here today to share our ideas about how the Legislature should deal with three education issues in the current session.

One involves steps to immediately address the achievement gap.

The second is a plan for performance reviews of teachers that will make our strong teaching profession even stronger.

And the third is a responsible plan to create alternative pathways...

In this "annual state of American education speech," the U.S. Secretary of Education describes his numerous goals for education. The latter part of his speech deals with teacher training, preparation, and certification standards. Riley states that there is a need for an expanded view of alternative certification as well as increased education school standards.

Arthur Wise, the president of NCATE, commends the United Arab Emirates on its successful implementation of a teacher education program comparable to those supported by NCATE in the U.S. In the course of the speech, Wise describes various elements of what NCATE believes are key components of a successful teacher education program.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s speech to Columbia University’s teachers college fully acknowledges the repeated failures of American education schools throughout the twentieth century. Duncan believes that these education schools can and should be reformed, and he lays out a variety of ways in which these plans can be accomplished.

As the executive summary states, this report gives "important information regarding teachers' education, certification, teaching assignments, professional development, collaboration, and supportive work environment." The areas on teacher quality and certification cover the long standing debate over whether or not teachers could be more effective by receiving less...

The Christian school is to be favored for two reasons.

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