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Judging Alternative Routes: Test Scores or No?


As I note in this story, the National Education Association really went after alternative routes in its comments to the proposed guidelines for the $4.35 billion Race to the Top program. As evidence, NEA listed several studies that found that teachers from alternative routes were either less effective, or no more effective, than other teachers in the classroom.

But all those studies, to one degree or another, rely on student test scores as a measure of teacher effectiveness.

In the same letter, NEA argues that "achievement is much more than a test score ... the tests widely in use in the United States ... typically focus on lower-level skills or recall and recognition." By that thinking, we shouldn't really give a whole lot of credence to these studies.

Confused? I am.


I agree with you, Stephen. It becomes even more confusing when you note that a disproportionately high percentage of new teachers recognized by their schools and districts as "Teachers of Promise" here in Texas come from alternative certification programs. They also appear to have a significantly lower incidence of flight from the profession in the first five years as compared to teachers from more traditional college Education department certification paths.

In spite of these findings, Austin and Dallas newspapers have both reported in the last two months that teachers from alternative certification programs are often the victims of strong prejudices against them at hiring time. Principals tend to hire what they know, which is Education majors, these articles reported. Further, some school district administrators have gone as far as to impose unwritten or in some cases formal restrictions on how many teachers from alternative programs their district will hire.

In three years in our district, I have seen BA's in Education with twenty hours in mathematics struggling to teach middle school Algebra. I have also seen an old friend with Ph.D.s in Chemistry and Biology told he wasn't qualified to teach middle or high school Science. Have we finally managed to completely invert our selection criteria for teachers, valuing methodology above content? Perhaps part of the problem is that we have become better and better at teaching less and less.

I think we're all confused, Stephen - some of us more than others.

I substitute in an ISD in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro region, with an alternative certification in Special Education. I had five interviews and nothing hand out. I and others feel that administrators are intimated by individuals how have twenty or more years of working experience outside of education.

We feel the many administrators want to control and intimated their teachers and that is why they hire graduates just out college with no life experience outside of the education industry. I feel that many administrators do not have work experience outside the education industry. I was asked by an interviewer why I would be the best candidate for an opened position, my response was that I have work and life experience outside the education industry, unlike those who go from high school then college and on too teaching. The Principal have me the look of death.

The fact is that students need teachers that have practical work experience not one how spouts theories from a book. The students want to know how the material being taught will apply to their life outside of school.

We bring real life experience and knowledge to the classroom. We have the skills to manage a classroom. I laugh inside when I see a teacher with years in the classroom, yet unable to manage a classroom. That is I and others who are in the alternative route are researching the possibility of starting our own private school.

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