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Uncertified Intelligence

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The real meaning of “highly qualified” teacher may just have gotten a little murkier. A new study by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University has concluded that, on the whole, teachers without certification are just as effective as their certified counterparts. Looking at the standardized test scores of students in New York City, the study found that, by their third year on the job, both uncertified and alternatively certified teachers perform just as well as traditionally certified teachers. The moral, according to the researchers, is that school systems should spend less time focusing on teachers’ certification status and more on their actual performance during probationary periods. Susanna Loeb, a Stanford professor who has conducted a similar—but separate—study, suggested that teachers’ past experiences and educational achievements should be paramount in hiring decisions. “I’m not ready to give up on résumés,” she said.

8 Comments

Having worked several years ago with six young teachers out of Teach for America, I have to say that they were some of the best teachers I ever met. They were motivated, energetic, and good with the children. They had a strong support network in their first year of teaching. Sadly, to the best of my knowledge, none of them are still teaching, though one has become an administrator. So in terms of creating career educators, I haven't seen that program as any more successful than the traditional model.

I agree with the statement that not enough attention is paid to teacher competence during the first few years of teaching; administrators routinely drop the ball in counseling people out of teaching even in the student teaching phase, or simply non-renewing when they have that opportunity. Then unions get blamed for "protecting bad teachers" when they are simply doing their job.

The best teacher I ever worked with didn't have her certification. I have worked with more than my share of certified teachers who should never have been in the classroom. I am greatly sadened that as a society we feel it is easier to make teachers jump through hoops for a one dimension of teaching and believe that this is what makes greatness. I have never understood how passing a couple of tests makes a teacher great in the classroom. It just doesn't add up.

I am in total agreement with those comments. I have seen a number excellent teachers thrown out of the classroom just because they have failed their Praxis several times. I don't want to be misunderstood, I am not against certification, but that shouldn't be the final criterion for deciding whether the teacher is capable of teaching. That is one of the reasons why young people who attend colleges choose other professions instead of teaching, too many loopholes. This can be very demotivating.
Yours sincerely,
Concerned Educator
Jean Grant.

I agree teachers should be qualified to teach, but there does not seem to be any consideration for individual situations and circumstances. The broad brush effect the NCLB HQ Teacher requirements project will allow good teachers to slip away. As a new teacher myself, the short deadline I have been given to overcome large hurddles may force me out of my new career. I teach in a state where there is a 30,000+ teacher shortage. What a shame!

As an intervention specialist with a Masters Degree and more than 15 years of experience in the classroom in the State of Ohio, I was required to become "HIGHLY QUALIFIED" in all areas that I teach because of NCLB. The powers that be did not take into consideration my experience nor that I had been teaching these same subjects for 15 years. My colleagues and I were forced to take course work taught by people who had no special education training and as few as 1 year of experience in the classroom. I personally had 2 wonderful teachers opt for early retirement so that they did not have to complete the addtitional course work required. This was a tremendous loss for special education ecspecially when we are in a field that already experiences vast shortages. Intervention Specialists are already bombarded with reams of paper work and unrealistic expectations for work loads. I guess my comment would be WHEN DO WE GET TO FOCUS ON WHAT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF OUR CHILDREN AND ACTUALLY TEACH SOMETHING THAT IS NOT GEARED TO A STANDARDIZED TEST BUT IS SOMETHING THAT A STUDENT NEEDS TO KNOW?

As an intervention specialist with a Masters Degree and more than 15 years of experience in the classroom in the State of Ohio, I was required to become "HIGHLY QUALIFIED" in all areas that I teach because of NCLB. The powers that be did not take into consideration my experience nor that I had been teaching these same subjects for 15 years. My colleagues and I were forced to take course work taught by people who had no special education training and as few as 1 year of experience in the classroom. I personally had 2 wonderful teachers opt for early retirement so that they did not have to complete the addtitional course work required. This was a tremendous loss for special education ecspecially when we are in a field that already experiences vast shortages. Intervention Specialists are already bombarded with reams of paper work and unrealistic expectations for work loads. I guess my comment would be WHEN DO WE GET TO FOCUS ON WHAT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF OUR CHILDREN AND ACTUALLY TEACH SOMETHING THAT IS NOT GEARED TO A STANDARDIZED TEST BUT IS SOMETHING THAT A STUDENT NEEDS TO KNOW?

I think we have an opportunity to get rid of NCLB. We need to do that. We are not running factories. We are teaching children.
I do think that more support could be given to new teachers by the training institutions. I agree that most of the people teaching in university education departments are not qualified. I am in elementary education. I would like to see education classes that are more practical, and are taught by people in subject area departments--English, math, science, history--rather than by people in university education departments. After the third year, it is true, either you have mastered your own teaching "style" or you have not.

My own experience of alternatively qualified teachers is mixed. It is true that some go on to become good teachers. However, I wonder to what extent they owe their success to the well qualified, certificated, teachers at their schools? In my school, we teachers have to provide a great deal of extra support to alternative route teachers, and I think that our effort and well educated input is going unrecognized.

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