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Students No Worse Off With Alt-Cert Teachers


Mathematica has a big new report out using a rigorous, experimental design that shows that students taught by teachers who came through alternative routes in general did as well on reading and math standardized tests as those taught by traditionally certified teachers. The study also found no correlation between the number of hours of coursework and student achievement.

One of the reasons this is a big deal is that most of the studies of alternative certification have focused on the "elite" programs like Teach For American and the New Teacher Project; this looks at a bunch of regular, state-run programs.

The study did find, however, that students of teachers in alternative routes who were also taking coursework while teaching performed slightly worse in math than their traditionally certified counterparts. Groups such as the National Council on Teacher Quality have essentially argued that alternative routes shouldn't load up new teachers with coursework.

More than 2,600 students in six states participated in the study.

My colleague Mary Ann Zehr will have more up on www.edweek.org soon, so check back.

UPDATE: Find Mary Ann's full story here.


Stephen... Do you how kids do on these multiple-choice standardized math tests is even a valid metric for their math learning? Seems like the variable is whether the teacher is trained in or otherwise adopts a "teach to the test" approach to the subject or an "engender real learning approach".

As a parent, I have the experience of tutoring my daughter in high school geometry so she could get a C, "tutoring to the test" I guess, but she ended the year knowing little or no geometry, hating the subject and vowing never to have anything to do with it again.

Seems like standardized test scores are a flawed metric for measuring learning because they are not an independent variable, but dependent on test coaching of the teacher rather than the real learning of the student.

I'm thrilled to hear that this report includes such promising information on the quality of the students taught by alternative route teachers because that is how I became a teacher! I taught for ten years on the middle school and elementary level; and now, I'm a full-time Pre-Service Teacher Educator at a local community college! It just goes to show, that the statement that I make to my students when teaching them the two paths to certification-alternate route and traditional route-is true: "If you've got the art in your heart, you can be a great teacher no matter which path you choose"

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