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ALTERNATE ROUTES ARE ATTRACTING TALENTED INDIVIDUALS FROM OTHER CAREERS WHO OTHERWISE WOULD NOT BECOME TEACHER

The National Center for Education Information released the results of a recent survey of teachers entering teaching through alternative routes to teacher certification on June 2, 2005 in a 72-page report, Profile of Alternate Route Teachers.   

Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia now offer 538 different alternate route programs. These programs offer individuals, regardless of whether they have a background in education or not, the opportunity to become certified as teachers by meeting requirements prescribed by the state. Generally, teachers who become certified through an alternate route are able to teach while they are obtaining certification.

The survey, Profile of Alternate Route Teachers, was conducted by the National Center for Education Information, which has been documenting what is going on in this field since 1983.  Last year about 35,000 individuals entered teaching through alternate routes. About half of the survey respondents (47 percent) say they would not have become teachers if an alternate route had not been available. Only about 20 percent say they would have gone back to college to get a teaching certificate.

In the past decade, alternative teacher certification has spawned many new pathways that provide excellent transitions for a career in teaching.  The most dramatic change in the past few years has been a shift toward people beginning their preparation to teach later in life and later in their careers.  “The data show for the first time the advantages of having individuals entering from alternate routes,” said Dr. C. Emily Feistritzer, president of the National Center for Education Information, publisher of Teacher Education Reports and the author of the report. “They are more mature, more satisfied with several aspects of teaching, feel competent as teachers and are more likely to remain in teaching than recent college graduates entering teaching.”

Alternate routes to certification began in the 1980s as an effort to ward off projected shortages of teachers. “This once was a controversial movement that some critics called ‘sub-standard’,” said Dr. Feistritzer. “Now the movement has become a respectable, prime source for recruiting highly qualified individuals who wouldn’t have entered teaching otherwise.”

The rapidly growing number of persons entering teaching through alternate routes is helping states and localities meet not only the demand for more teachers, but also the federal No Child Left Behind mandate for highly qualified teachers by bringing thousands of individuals with careers, knowledge and experience from outside teaching into the profession as well as upgrading the credentials of existing teachers.

Among the highlights of the survey:

  • The appeal of alternative certification. Nearly half (47 percent) of those entering teaching through alternate routes say they would not have become a teacher if an alternate route to certification had not been available.
    • The data indicate that the older one gets the less inclined one is to enter teaching without an alternate route.
    • More than half (59 percent) of those surveyed who were in their 50s or older when they entered an alternate route say they would not have become a teacher if an alternate route had not been available. Half (50 percent) of those in their 40s, 46 percent of those in their 30s and 45 percent in their 20s say they would not have become teachers if an alternate route had not been available.
  • Further, in the absence of an alternative certification route:
    • More than half (54 percent) of individuals entering teaching from a professional occupation say they would not have become teachers.
    • More than half (52 percent) of men compared to 45 percent of women say they would not have become a teacher.
    • Fifty-three percent of Hispanics compared to 48 percent of whites and 43 percent of African-Americans in the survey say they would not have become a teacher.
  • Education as a new career. Nearly half (47 percent) of the people entering teaching through alternate routes were working in a non-education job before they began an alternative teacher certification program; 40 percent were working in a professional occupation outside the field of education.
  • Age, gender and race differences. The alternatively certified teacher population has more males, more minorities and more older people than the population of teachers who obtain certification via the traditional route.
    • Thirty-seven percent of the sample were men and 63 percent were women. Twenty-five percent of the teaching force in the United States is male.
    • Seventy-two percent of those surveyed were 30 or older; 47 percent were 40 or older and 20 percent were older than 50.
    • Thirty-two percent were non-white compared to 10 percent of the overall teacher population.
  • Educational background. Nearly eight out of 10 enter an alternative certification program with a bachelor degree or higher in a field other than education. 
  • Minority attraction. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of entrants into teaching via alternate routes are nonwhite compared to 11 percent of the current teaching force.
  • Retaining teachers. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of the survey respondents entering teaching through alternate routes expect to be teaching K-12 five years from now. States with the highest percentage of alternatively certified teachers report that 87 percent of them are still teaching after five years.
  • Only 5 percent of respondents report they expect to be employed in an occupation outside of education five years from now.  Only 2 percent report they expect to be retired completely compared to 22 percent of the overall teaching force.
  • Preparing to teach. Of 10 variables, one’s own teaching experiences, life experiences in general and those of other teachers/colleagues are seen as most valuable in developing competence to teach. Eighty-two percent of teachers entering the profession through alternate routes rated one’s own teaching experiences as very valuable in developing competence to teach, followed by life experiences in general (71 percent very valuable) and other teachers/colleagues (67 percent very valuable).
  • Satisfaction with alternative certification. Only 3 percent of those entering teaching through alternate routes say they would not recommend an alternate route to teacher certification to others interested in becoming teachers.

As more states have instituted legislation for alternative routes to teacher certification, an increasing number of institutions of higher education have initiated non-traditional alternative programs that include on-the-job training for the preparation of post-baccalaureate candidates for teaching.

Most teachers entering the profession through alternate routes are recruited for areas where the demand for teachers is greatest – in large cities and rural areas – and in subject areas in greatest demand – special education, mathematics and science. 

Alternate route programs are created and designed specifically to meet the needs in those areas, as well as the specific needs of prospective teachers who come from other careers and with considerable life experiences.  These programs get prospective teachers into the classroom early, usually as a full-time teacher, earning a salary, while working with experienced teachers.

Profile of Alternate Route Teachers is the most recent of more than 35 data-based reports conducted by the National Center for Education Information (www.ncei.com). Founded in 1979, NCEI is a private, non-partisan research organization in Washington, D.C. specializing in survey research and data analysis. NCEI is the authoritative source of information about alternative preparation and certification of teachers and school administrators.

The National Center for Alternative Certification is a one-stop, comprehensive clearinghouse for information about alternative routes to certification in the United States. The Center was established by NCEI in September 2003 with a discretionary grant from the U.S. Department of Education, has a toll-free Call Center, 866-778-2784, and a major interactive Web site, www.teach-now.org, that provides immediate answers to questions and guidance for individuals interested in becoming teachers, as well as for policymakers, legislators, educators, researchers and members of the public.

Copies of the full 72-page-report can be obtained for $29 by contacting NCEI at (202) 362-3444, or by writing the National Center for Education Information at 4401A Connecticut Avenue, NW, #212, Washington, DC 20008 or by ordering it on this website.




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