Alternative CertiﬁcationThe Diﬀerence Between What You See and What You Hear
Marketing GeniusWant to Teach?When Can You Start?We’ve all seen this billboardfrom a certain alternativecertiﬁcation program (ACP),which boasts that aspiringteachers will quickly get a joband be teaching in aclassroom.
Marketing GeniusIn fact, the billboard andmarketing tools of thisACP and the ACP’ssuccess at building their“brand” (the number ofweb hits andapplications submitted)make it a “success” storyfor their marketing ﬁrm!
Professional OpinionsA high school principal commented, “I know I’ve passed ongood teachers before, but I will not consider a resume from analternatively certiﬁed teacher.” (Bradley, K, personal communication, 20Oct, 2010).A local high school teacher commented, “We want ourteachers to student teach. We’ve had too many badexperiences with unprepared alternatively certiﬁed teachersto consider hiring an alternatively certiﬁed teacher who hasnot done student teaching.” (L. Waters, personal communication, 18 Nov,2010).
Problem StatementAs many parties seem to have a strong opinion onalternatively certiﬁed teachers, the purpose of thisstudy is to determine the perceived effectiveness ofsecondary alternative certiﬁcation teachers in their ﬁrstyear of teaching.
TerminologyAlternative certiﬁcation (AC)teachers are considered to beteachers who have anundergraduate degree in aﬁeld other than education,went through either aprivately-owned or university-based program to obtaincertiﬁcation, and completed aninternship.
TerminologyEffectiveness is based onself-perceptions of:classroom management,curriculum knowledge,ability to create lesson plansand teach those plans, andtime management.Effectiveness is notmeasured by TAKS scores.
Increase of Alternatively Certiﬁed Teachers“A business called I-Teach Texas recently churned outmore than 1,400 new teachers through an Internet-based program that requires no observation orteaching in schools. During the same period, theUniversity of Texas at Austin prepared 142 newteachers, or approximately 10 percent the numberproduced by I-Teach Texas (U.S. Department ofEducation 2009)” (Baines, 2010).
Growth of the Alternative Route to Certiﬁcation (Texas Teachers of Tomorrow, 2011).The ease in which teachers can sign up for and enter theclassroom coupled with the number of teachers using thealternative route is a cause for concern as some questions areleft unanswered and research points to varying results interms of alternative certiﬁed teacher effectiveness.
Why is this Important?According to Sokal, Smith and Mowat (2003), “researchshows that teacher education is a necessary aspect of qualityinstruction... some researchers claim that AC teachers havemore difﬁculty learning to teach than do traditionally trainedteachers (Barry, 2001; Shen, 1997).”According to pre-service teachers, “their frustration with theirinability to manage student behavior is left unaddressed bytheir co-operating teachers... as well as by their facultyadvisors” (Sokal, Smith and Mowat, 2003).
Purpose for Investigating Self- Perceptions of AC TeachersThis study aims to explore the perceived effectivenessof secondary alternative certiﬁcation teachers, and inturn, shed new light on the measures that must beincorporated into alternative certiﬁcation programs.
SigniﬁcanceThis study is signiﬁcant in that it identiﬁes an accurateself-perception of the effectiveness of AC teachers inthe state of Texas and allows programs to equippotential teacher candidates with the knowledge theyneed most to be an effective educator.
Study ResultsAreas of Difﬁculty for First-Year Alternatively Certiﬁed Teachers in Texas 14 12 10Teachers 8 6 4 2 0 Lesson Classroom Student Teaching the Planning Management Perception Curriculum (Lott, A., 2011)
Study Results Areas of Improvement for Alternative Certiﬁcation Programs in Texas 14 12 10Teachers 8 6 4 2 0 Teach Realistic Age Level Hands-On Scenarios Speciﬁc Experience Required (Lott, A., 2011)
ConclusionsThe teachers identiﬁed that they struggled most in knowingwhat and how to teach their students. Even though teacherspassed the content area test, they didn’t know what they weresupposed to teach once they got into the classroom.About half of the teachers had an inaccurate perception oftheir students and this caused some classroom managementissues. These teachers repeatedly mentioned that they weresurprised by the immaturity of their students or howirresponsible their students were.
Implications for ACPsThe teachers repeatedly said that observations (before theyactually had their own classroom) did not work.Potential teachers need to have the experience dealing withthe everyday classroom management issues, have anunderstanding of all of the different types of students that arein the classroom and instructional content, which can only begained through hands-on classroom experience. Additionalresearch is needed to gather information on how toaccomplish this feat.
Works CitedACT Houston. (2011). ACT Houston. Retrieved from http://www.acthouston.com/Baines, L. (2010). The disintegration of teacher preparation. Educational Horizons, 88(3), 152-163. Retrieved from ERIC database (EJ887226).Hawkins, B. (22, Feb. 2011). Texas offers reasons for caution as Minnesota debates alternative teacher licensure. MinnPost.com. Retrieved from http:// www.minnpost.com/learningcurve/2011/02/22/26007/ texas_offers_reasons_for_caution_as_minnesota_debates_alternative_teacher_licen sureLevelTen Interactive. (2007). Texas teachers. Retrieved from http:// www.leveltendesign.com/portfolio/success-story/texas-teachersLott, A. (2011). Reﬂections of an alternatively certiﬁed ﬁrst-year teacher and recommendations to improve alternative certiﬁcation programs. Unpublished manuscript, College of Education, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas.
Works CitedOtt, Adrian. (2010). TAKS: Texas assessment of knowledge and skills. A history of high stakes testing in Texas. Retrieved from https://classes.lt.unt.edu/Spring_2010/ CECS_5420_020/lao0041/Assign%203/taks.htmlSokal, L., Smith, D.G., & Mowat, H. (2003). Alternative certiﬁcation teachers’ attitudes toward classroom management. High School Journal, 86(3), 8-16.Texas Teachers of Tomorrow. (2011). Our company’s history and overview. Retrieved from http://www.texasteachers.org/our-company/program-history/Texas Teaching Fellows. (2009). Texas teaching fellows. Retrieved from http:// www.texasteachingfellows.org/