(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
…but other than that, it’s swell!
Let’s start with ineffective. Super chart! below from the Brookings Institute, you will recall, shows average gain scores in mathematics for three different groups of teachers: traditionally certified, uncertified and alternatively certified:
The differences between the three groups are far, far, far, far smaller than differences within each of the three groups. Schools keeping out the uncertified and alternative certified teachers on the right side of the curve are doing a grave diservice to their students.
Next, let’s look at evidence from Paul Peterson and Daniel Nadler’s recent Education Next piece on certification.
There is some suggestive evidence that alternative certification programs help state teaching forces look more like the ethnic composition of their states. Another way to put this might be to say that requiring people to take 30 hours of course work for no apparent reason (see Super Chart! above) may have a disproportionate impact on minority students. Or, put another way, genuine alternative certification seems to provide more opportunity for minorities to enter the teaching profession.
Now “racist” is a tricky term. Some argue that the SAT exam is racist, as it has a disproportionate impact on minorities. From what I understand, the SAT does successfully predict college success to a large degree, while teacher certfication does not predict student gains (see Super Chart! above). If so, by my way of thinking, the SAT is not racist, while teacher certification may be, de facto.
Let’s put it another way: if SAT scores don’t predict college success any better than certfication predicts successful teaching, I’ll happily join the chorus calling to eliminate the exam.
Finally, Peterson and Nadler show that the 21 states who have done more than symbolic alternative teacher certfication have made larger than average gains on NAEP.
This of course does not prove that alternative certification caused the faster gains, but they certainly didn’t prevent these gains. Florida, a leader in alternative certfication, has about half of their new teachers coming from alternative routes. As you can see, it doesn’t seem to be hurting their academic achievement.
As the figure below shows, Florida’s free and reduced lunch eligible students now outperform the statewide average in my home state of Arizona.
As one of Jay’s neighbors once said, it’s time for a change in how we train, recruit and compensate teachers.