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ERIC Number: ED498382
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep
Pages: 38
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Alternative Certification Isn't Alternative
Walsh, Kate; Jacobs, Sandi
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
While nearly all states now have something on their books labeled "alternate route to certification," these programs defy standard definition due to their enormous variability. States differ in the types of candidates allowed to apply (e.g., career changers or recent college graduates) and in the academic backgrounds these individuals must possess. The structure of alternate route programs varies enormously, from programs run by schools of education to those managed by school districts or private providers (both for-profit and not-for-profit). The requirements for completing a program run the full gamut as well, along with the support teachers receive once in the classroom. Alternative certification was not always such an ambiguous concept. At its inception 25 years ago, there was clear consensus about what it should be: a responsible way to get smart, talented individuals into the classroom without requiring them to earn a second bachelor's degree or its equivalent. Alternative certification posed an immediate threat to teacher educators, who viewed it as both irresponsible and as the potential end to their own livelihoods. A quarter century later colleges of education now operate most of the nation's alternate route programs, and teacher educators' jobs are not in jeopardy. What was the true trajectory of the alternative certification movement? Did alternative certification come to earn its current mainstream status just because people grew accustomed to the idea? Or were the original tenets of the alternative certification movement substantially compromised? To find out, the authors interviewed directors of alternate route programs across the country in early 2007. Because directors are most likely to portray their own programs in a positive light, the responses are remarkably revealing. In sum: (1) most alternate route programs have become mirror images of traditional programs, while others closely resemble what used to be labeled as "emergency" routes to certification; (2) most alternate route programs are remarkably nonselective; (3) many programs show little flexibility regarding candidate background; (4) alternate route programs provide woefully inadequate training and support to their candidates; (5) buyer beware: The cost of these programs varies dramatically; and (6) no program fully meets the original intent of the alternative certification movement. Recommendations from the authors conclude the report. (Contains 2 charts, 20 tables, and 26 endnotes.) [This report was written with a foreword by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli. It was produced by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the National Council on Teacher Quality.]
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation & Institute. 1701 K Street NW Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20006. Tel: 202-223-5452; Fax: 202-223-9226; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, Washington, DC.