In order to ensure program quality, state policies should support the recruitment of talented candidates, assessment and support of program participants, mentoring and induction support, and accountability for programs to produce effective teachers.
One critique of alternative certification programs is that they are not sufficiently selective. States and institutions of higher education could address this problem in both traditional and alternative certification programs by setting higher standards for candidates’ minimum grade point averages and cut scores—the minimum score needed to qualify—on licensing exams. States should commission analyses that weigh the costs and benefits of the proposed higher standards to ensure they raise the quality of program entrants, not bar from teaching those who would otherwise be effective with students.
High-quality programs assess participants and deliver formative feedback, both to monitor participants’ skills and help them grow professionally. States should consider including a performance-based component in teacher certification that would encourage both traditional and alternative certification programs to provide teachers with learning experiences that help them demonstrate these competencies and assess their progress toward meeting them. States could also build this ongoing assessment of candidates’ performance into the approval process for teacher preparation programs.
States can also ensure program quality by designing and funding high-quality mentoring and induction programs for alternate route teachers, since research finds that these programs increase teacher retention.
Finally, one of the primary ways states can improve program quality is by strengthening accountability for both traditional and alternate route programs. Programs should be judged by the performance of their graduates, at least in part based on their effects on student achievement. This measurement requires robust state and district data systems that can link teachers to students, and a variety of processes to ensure that the systems are accurate. Therefore, states must work to establish the underlying infrastructure needed for such accountability systems which, once in place, would also allow the state and others to study the effectiveness of a variety of programs and to determine which components of training programs are most critical for preparing successful teachers.
For more on this topic, please see: