The ongoing AJC series on teacher quality reported in the Sunday newspaper that more than one in five teachers hired to work in Georgia’s classrooms since 2003 didn’t graduate from a traditional education college. Instead, the teachers completed alternative programs that provide aspiring teachers with a quicker route to the classroom.
The AJC is making this occasional series on teacher quality available only to subscribers. You can read the full article by picking up a copy of Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution or logging on to the paper’s iPad app. Here is a link to the AJC digital options, including an E-subscription, which gives you the actual paper online.
And here is an excerpt of Part 3 from Sunday:
Georgia is among the top five producers of teachers through such alternative routes, according to a 2009 report from the U.S. Department of Education.
Those trained under the state’s alternative certification programs comprised nearly 4 percent of the educator workforce last year, but state leaders predict they will play a greater role in the future as schools replenish an aging workforce.
Leaders who once hoped testing would improve education are now focusing on putting better teachers in the classroom. For that reason, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is examining teacher quality in Georgia. There is a growing debate over whether teachers who get in classrooms through alternative certification are the best hires.
Some studies show the strength of these teachers, others question their ability and a few show no difference between them and traditional teachers. As with many education issues, the answer isn’t clear.
School districts running alternative certification programs say the teachers are just as prepared, if not better prepared, than those who went the traditional college route. Gwinnett, DeKalb and Clayton county schools spend tens of thousand of dollars annually to produce their own teachers through alternative certification. Other districts, including Cobb County, say they don’t have a need for the program. Elementary and middle school students taught by Clayton’s first-year alternative route teachers scored higher on state exams than those taught by traditional first-year teachers, according to 2010 test data from the system. Those results aren’t universal. A 2007 study of learning gains among North Carolina high school students by a Duke University professor found teachers were more effective if they had traditional certification, while a study viewing South Carolina’s program found no significant difference between teachers trained through a traditional or alternative route.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog