Alternative Education is not Alternative!
Why Alternative Certification is relevant in terms of teacher preparation!
Peggy Johnson
Sharron Stephenson
Mary Ramos

Let's begin with a quote to ponder. . .

"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 MachenThe Necessity of the Christian SchoolPCA Historical Center

The argument for teachers with strong academic backgrounds in their content...

"Research suggests that teachers with strong academic backgrounds may be more effective than less well-educated teachers (Ballou & Podgursky, 1997; Wayne & Youngs, 2003). The case-study programs included individuals with a variety of educational backgrounds. We used Barron’s six-scale selectivity ranking for undergraduate universities and coded participants as having attended a competitive or a less competitive institution of higher education (Barron’s Educational Services, Inc., 2002)."

"In recent years, however, as many as a third of new hires have come from alternative route to certification (AC) programs, in which they begin teaching before completing all their certification requirements (Feistritzer and Chester 2002). AC programs have grown in number and size in recent years in response to a variety of factors, including teacher shortages and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which requires that every core class be staffed with a teacher who has obtained full certification or, in the case of alternative routes to certification, is enrolled and making adequate progress toward certification through an approved program."

"The statistics seem impressive. Nearly all states—47, to be exact—now offer teachers alternate routes into the profession, compared to only a handful of states just a few decades ago. In fact, alternate route programs now prepare nearly one out of every five teachers. Two decades ago the numbers of alternate route teachers were so insignificant they were hardly worth measuring.i Unfortunately, today’s numbers are misleading. The new programs are often “alternative” in name only. As this study shows, most alternate route teachers have had to jump through many of the same hoops—meeting the same “traditional” academic requirements and undergoing much the same training—as typical education school graduates."

The Pro's of Alternative Certification:

History of Programs and what they offer:

"Alternative teacher certification programs began to proliferate in the 1980s as a response to critical shortages of teachers in subject areas like math and science in rural and inner-city schools. By combining education coursework with classroom experience, alternative certification allows new teachers to learn the fundamentals of the profession while also earning a salary. Specifics vary from state to state and program to program, but most provide a high level of mentoring, training and support to college-educated applicants who already have thorough knowledge of their subject area and exceptional leadership qualities."

NCTQ data represented in the following table:  

This article discusses the comparisons of the various program as they relate to alternative certification.