Title: Workforce watch
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090862/00007
 Material Information
Title: Workforce watch
Series Title: Workforce watch
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education, College of Education, University of Florida
Publisher: Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education, College of Education, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: February 2004
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090862
Volume ID: VID00007
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Are All Special Education Teacher

Preparation Routes Equal?

What States Should Know About Alternative Route
Certification Programs

There has been a shortage of quali-
fied special education teachers for
decades. Traditional special education
teacher preparation programs have not
kept pace with the need. Indeed, gradu-
ates from these programs account for a
surprisingly small percentage of newly
hired teachers annually. At the same
time, almost all open special education
positions are filled each year, suggesting
that people are willing to become spe-
cial education teachers. Thus, the ques-
tion becomes one of how to get inter-
ested individuals trained, licensed, and
teaching successfully in special educa-
tion classrooms.
Providing alternative routes to certi-
fication is one strategy by which states
have attempted to address the shortage
of qualified special education person-
nel. Although alternative certification
route programs vary, all provide access
to standard teaching credentials and cir-
cumvent traditional teacher education.
By 1997, 75,000 individuals had re-
ceived certification through state-run
alternative certification programs-and
the numbers are increasing. Because
state policymakers approve certification
waivers, they must ensure that alterna-
tive certification route programs provide
high-quality teacher preparation and

that the graduates of such programs are
qualified. What do states need to know
to make a sound assessment of qual-
ity? Read on to gain insights from the
Have You Considered How
Alternative Route Certification
Programs Differ from Traditional
Preparation Programs?
No two programs are alike; however, the
following features tend to differentiate al-
ternative routes from traditional ones:
* Length and structure of the pro-
gram. Alternative route preparation
programs usually are shorter than tra-
ditional ones, and they are structured
to allow candidates to enter the class-
room immediately or soon after be-
ginning their studies.
* Delivery mode. Alternative route
programs tend to present instruc-
tion in nontraditional ways, such as
through distance education, extensive
use of on-the-job experience, etc.
* Pool of teacher candidates. Alter-
native route certification programs
recruit a different pool of potential
special education teacher candidates
than do traditional programs.
Typically, alternative route program can-
didates do not have a substantial back-

SAlternative route certifi-
cation programs in special
education are increasing in
numbers-Have you consid-
ered the advantages and dis-




ground in general or special edu-
cation. If they have a bachelors
degree, it usually is not in an edu-
cation field. Alternative route pro-
grams tend to attract more people
who are over 25 and who have
had business, industry, or military

Alternative route programs have
been more successful than tradi-

Contrary to
news reports, ca-
reer changers in
alternative route
certification pro-
grams tend to
come from lower
paying jobs rath-
er than from the
professional or
managerial ranks.

native route to

tional prepara-
tion programs
in recruiting
candidates from
diverse cultural
and linguistic
(21 percent, ver-
sus 13 percent in
traditional pro-
grams). More-
over, 87 percent
of teachers who
choose an alter-
certification and

who are from diverse backgrounds
work in urban schools, compared
to only 67 percent of teachers
from diverse backgrounds who
complete a traditional teacher
preparation program.

Have You Considered the
Indicators of Promising
Alternative Route
Certification Programs?

The following features tend to be
associated with the development
of qualified personnel and are
necessary attributes of alternative
route programs.

* Meaningful collaboration.
Alternative route programs that
are a collaboration between a
district and institute of higher
education show more promise
than district-only programs. Al-
though most alternatively cer-
tified teachers are considered
to be minimally competent,

graduates of collaborative
programs tend to be judged
as superior (by outside observ-
ers and building principals) to
those who complete district-
only programs.

* Substantive content. Alterna-
tive route programs that take
a programmatic approach are
superior to those that make ex-
tensive use of unrelated courses
and add-on activities.

* On-site supervision. Suc-
cessful alternative programs
use on-site supervision that
incorporates features of tradi-
tional preparation supervision
and building-based coaching
and mentoring. Mentoring for
alternative route certification
candidates is more extensive
than for traditionally prepared

Have You Considered the
Strengths and Weaknesses
of Alternative Route
Certification Programs?

Credentialing inadequately pre-
pared individuals can have a neg-
ative effect on student achieve-
ment for years. When deciding
whether to approve an alternative
route certification program, con-
sider the following cautions:

Will you eliminate shortages?
Alternative programs have been
found to address shortages in
urban areas, but not in rural and
suburban districts. In addition, at-
trition rates are considerably high-
er for teachers who are prepared
in alternative programs.

Do you know what you are
getting? Teachers in traditional
preparation programs and alter-
native route programs usually re-
ceive the same certification. Yet, in
most cases, their preparation will
differ significantly. Traditional spe-

cial education
teacher prepara-
tion programs
generally adhere
to high profes-
sional standards
(e.g., National
Council for the
Accreditation of
Teacher Educa-
tion), while some
alternative route
programs might
not be held to

- alternative is
not a synonym for
quick and easy.
Research offers
no support for the
proposition that
abbreviated prep-
aration is a viable
alternative to tra-
ditional teacher

the same standards.

For More Information

Information reported in this brief
was based on The Proliferation
of Alternative Routes to Certi-
fication in Special Education:
A Critical Review of the Lit-
erature, a paper prepared for
the National Center for Profes-
sions in Special Education, by
Michael S. Rosenberg and Paul
T. Sindelar. This document can be
found on the COPSSE web site at

The Center on Personnel Studies in Spe-
cial Education is funded by the Office of
Special Education Programs of the U.S.
Department of Education [cooperative
agreement #H325Q000002]. COPSSE
research is designed to inform scholars
and policymakers about beginning teach-
er quality, effective initial preparation, and
the effects of preparation alternatives. The
Center is directed by Drs. Paul Sindelar
and Mary Brownell. The policy briefs were
produced by Warger, Eavy & Associates.
University of Florida, 300 Norman Hall,
PO. Box 117050, Gainesville, FL 32611
352-392-0701 (X283), www.copsse.org

Opinionsexpressed here
do not necessarily reflect the
-\7 views of the US Department
,_= of Education

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