Fighting the Wrong Battle in the Teacher Preparation Wars


SRI conducted a comprehensive study of alternative teacher certification programs to determine the characteristics of those that were effective.

Like many education policy debates, arguments over alternative teacher certification vs. traditional teacher preparation have been heated, often vitriolic. On one side, proponents view alternative certification as an effective way to put bright and talented individuals into classrooms without forcing them to jump the “meaningless hurdles” of traditional teacher preparation. They claim alternative certification will help diversify the teacher workforce, alleviate shortages in fields such as mathematics and science, and benefit students as teachers bring real-world experiences to the classroom. On the other side, opponents see alternative certification as a threat
to teacher professionalism by allowing unprepared individuals into the classrooms of the hardestto-staff schools. They claim that it offers teachers a lower-quality preparation and, ultimately, is a disservice to the neediest students, who end up with the least-prepared teachers. Both sides can point to research that supports their positions and are quick to dismiss research that appears to contradict those positions.

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