Title: Workforce watch
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090862/00008
 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: VID00008
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 District Administrators Should Know About
Alternative Route Certification Programs

here 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
e certifi-
time, almost all open special education
in special positions are filled each year, suggesting
reasing in that people are willing to become spe-
cial education teachers. Thus, the ques-
you consid- tion becomes one of how to get inter-
ges and dis- ested individuals trained, licensed, and
teaching successfully in special educa-
tion classrooms.
Hiring teachers who have obtained cer-
tification through nontraditional, alter-
native routes is one strategy by which
school districts have attempted to ad-
dress special education teacher short-
ages. Although alternative certification
route programs vary, all provide access
FEBRUARY2004 to standard teaching credentials and cir-
PB-8 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
alternative route program candidates
ON PERSONNEL receive the same teaching credential
EDUCATION as their traditional program colleagues,

differences in the outcomes of prepara-
tion are at issue. What do districts need
to know to make a sound assessment of
quality? 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-

A alternative rout
cation programs
education are inc
ered the advanta



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, career
changers in alter-
native route certi-
fication programs
tend to come
from lower paying
jobs rather than
from the profes-
sional or mana-
gerial ranks.

native route to

tional prepara-
tion programs in
recruiting candi-
dates from di-
verse cultural
and linguistic
backgrounds (21
percent, versus
13 percent in
traditional pro-
grams). More-
over, 87 percent
of teachers who
choose an alter-
certification and

who are from diverse back-
grounds work in urban schools,
compared to only 67 percent of
teachers from diverse back-
grounds who complete a tradi-
tional preparation program.

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

The following features are neces-
sary attributes of alternative route

* 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
teachers. School district men-
tors should be selected based
on their superior teaching
skills, experience working with
student teachers, and willing-
ness to participate in novel ap-
proaches to the development
of novice teachers.

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 hire a teacher who has
completed an alternative prepa-
ration program consider the fol-
lowing cautions:

Do you know what you are get-
ting? Teachers in traditional prep-
aration programs and alternative
route programs usually receive
the same certification. Yet, in most
cases, their preparation will differ
significantly. Traditional teacher
preparation programs generally
adhere to high professional stan-
dards (e.g., National Council for

the Accreditation of Teacher Edu-
cation), whereas some alternative
route programs may not be held
to the same standards.

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.

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
Seviews of the US Department
IJ, of Education

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