Alt Cert Programs under fire

Discussion in 'General Education' started by each1teach1, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. each1teach1

    each1teach1 Cohort

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    Jun 27, 2008

    I wanted to post this here because we're all teachers (or in the process of becoming teachers) so I wanted to see what you guys thought.

    In Texas, Alternative Certification programs are coming under fire for being too lax in standards, especially programs run by for profit companies. The complaint is that some people are allowed in Alt Cert programs who would have never been admitted to University based programs, such as people who did not maintain at least a 2.5 in their specialty field. Another complaint is that they go into the classroom with little or no training and are "experimenting" on the children. Now, although I went through traditional, university based certification, some of the best teachers I know are Alt Cert's, I know the program does have promise. What do you think?

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcon...tbattle_22met.ART.State.Edition2.4d43d86.html

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcon.../stories/062708dnmetaltcertaudit.3949a00.html
     
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  3. Chef Dave

    Chef Dave Companion

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    The underlying premise seems to be that teachers who go through a traditional ed training program are somehow superior to those who go through an alt ed program.

    Although I believe that traditional ed may give new teachers a better grounding in how to teach, I don't believe that this means that alt ed programs have no validity. I also dispute the introduction about the 30 year old teacher with no teaching experience ... as this person could just as easily have gone through a traditional program at a later age and still have no teaching experience.

    I also hold both types of certification.

    I went through a traditional ed program to get my elementary teaching degree ... but I went through alternative education to get my Consumer and Family Education certificate in culinary arts.

    Some of the best culinary arts instructors I know are former chefs and line cooks. The weakest culinary arts teachers I know are all people who have never worked in a restaurant. Insofar as culinary arts emphasizes the preparation of students to work in the food service industry, I think that having prior industry experience in my field is critical.

    Of course - this isn't what the article from Texas is about as I'm sure that alt ed primarily pertains to core academic teachers.

    So ... if you have a science teacher who didn't go through traditional education training but has a degree in biochemistry and worked with pharmaceutical research and development for ten years, wouldn't the life experience of this person be important? What about the experience of a geologist who spent six years working for an oil company exploring for new oil fields ... or a marine biologist who worked off the Florida keys researching the sea life of the local reefs?

    For that matter ... if traditional training programs are all so wonderful, why does Texas have increasing problems with retaining teachers? According to the State Board of Education, 19% of all first year teachers leave at the end of their first year of teaching. Forty-three percent of all novice teachers in Texas have left within three years.

    Texas has serious problems and I think that some people are using alternative education as a scapegoat for more serious underlying issues.

    I was certified in Texas and after teaching for 17 years, (nine of which were in Texas), I left elementary education. Why? I had no administrative support when it came to severe discipline problems. I also didn't enjoy standardized instruction because having to write lesson plans with my grade level colleagues stifled my creativity. With standardized instruction, everything became a boring repetition of reading textbooks and filling out worksheets.

    At my last district, the school board decided that all teachers at schools that had failed to meet AYP, needed to participate in Saturday workshops for additional "training." The training was a joke and the school board ignored the fact that veteran teachers had been recruited to work at schools which had failed AYP. The training was unnecessary and only served to exhaust and demoralize us.

    My last school district also made me go through FOSS (Full Option Science System) kit training EVEN THOUGH I WAS CERTIFIED BY FOSS AS A TRAINER. The fact that I hadn't been trained within my district required me to undergo specialized "training" using kits that I already knew. I regarded the mandatory training as the epitome of bureaucratic stupidity.

    So ... if we're truly concerned about standards of education in Texas, we need to look at other factors. It is true that there are probably teachers with alternative certification who are rotten teachers ... but there are also teachers who went through traditional certification who are just as bad.

    You can't condemn an entire program based on a handful of individuals.
     
  4. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Jun 27, 2008

    First off, ChefDave, I don't think this problem is isolated to just Texas. And this comment, "Texas has serious problems and I think that some people are using alternative education as a scapegoat for more serious underlying issues. ", really irks me because it sounds like its just Texas that has serious problems because of standardized testing. It's the whole country, in every district, that has problems with standardized testing. I know this article strictly talks about Texas and its education problem, but there are stories like this all over the country.

    On the one hand, my sister went through the ACP program after getting her BS in Science. She will go into her 3rd year of teaching 2nd grade and is a great teacher. On the other hand, there are lots of teachers that went through the traditional route that are struggling to find jobs. I realize that there are bad teachers who went through traditional and ACP programs. If you go to JobSeekers, you will find that there are a lot of good teachers (traditional) struggling to find jobs that lose out to ACP teachers. I'm not putting down ACP teachers, because my sister is a great teacher So please don't take it as such.
     
  5. teachertexas

    teachertexas Rookie

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    I agree with the article in terms of requiring all prospective teachers to adhere to some minimum standards. Don't we want the best teachers for our students, not just any warm body that is interested in teaching?

    I'm not sure if a certain GPA (2.5 is what the article says is being recommended) is that applicable to someone who graduated from college ten or more years ago. Some people didn't take college work that seriously, but now have changed and would make excellent candidates.

    The article also stated:
    "On average, they are more likely to leave the teaching profession than university-trained teachers, he said"

    Having more stringent requirements might help this because people who are likely to leave might be scared off by what they have to do before they can begin teaching.

    It also reinforces that teaching is not something that just anyone can do. When we let people start teaching without much training, aren't we really saying that it isn't that difficult. We all know that isnt true, but the general public often presumes that it is.

    Hope I didn't offend anyone. I know quite a few wonderful ACP teachers.
     
  6. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    Jun 27, 2008

    teachertexas, I'm ACP, but as a new teacher I don't, as of yet, have any reason to be offended. I hope to be one of the wonderful ACP teachers you describe.

    I wrote in another thread that I chose to attend my county's department of ed ACP program because it is non-profit and has a strong affiliation with the nearly two dozen school districts within the county.

    As to who enters the ACP programs: most of my former co-workers from the live-music venue I worked at for many years have, within a ten-year period, become ACP teachers. We all have extensive educations and many of us have master's degrees or higher (we liked bartending because it was easy to attend college in the daytime and work at night). Some of us also worked other jobs on the days we didn't attend classes. For example, I worked for a state representative.

    One of my former co-workers (a former bartender) was named teacher of the year at one of Houston's top high schools last year, and several of the others have also been recognized.

    I have been following a path to become a teacher, just not the traditional path. Fortunately, because I am old and wise (ha ha), I am entering this profession with my eyes as wide open as possible. Because of that I might possibly make a success of it. I am certainly going to do my best to make sure it works -- for both my students and me.

    Thanks for posting a thought-provoking thread!
     
  7. Chef Dave

    Chef Dave Companion

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    I didn't mean to irk you.

    May I respectfully point out that the article was about the alternative education program in Texas ... and I responded to the article as such. I am also not unfamiliar with teaching in Texas. I spent 9 years there and got my Master's degree at U.T. Austin. During my time in Texas, I taught in rural south Texas, inner-city Austin, and suburbs in Austin and Houston.
     
  8. JustT

    JustT Comrade

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    Jun 27, 2008

    ChefDave,

    I'm really glad you posted that. I was thinking I was the only one in the whole world who gets picked on by the buearacracy! Your story is sooooo close to what I have been going through and it hit my nerve this week for some reason.

    I am soooo leary of putting my honest opinions on those presenters surveys at the end of a workshop that requires my name. If it was anymonous..... it would have my professional thoughts about the waste of time watching a 2 year old presentation.
     
  9. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Jun 27, 2008

    I understand that the article is based on the Texas ACP programs, and I got that you have worked in the Texas school systems; however, by that one statement, you implied that Texas is the only one with this problem, and I know that that is not the case.
     
  10. slinkytoy

    slinkytoy Rookie

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    I agree that we need some minimum standards, and I also think the standards may need to be stronger. I had a student teacher this year that was going through the alternative licensure program and she struggled in the classroom. She had not taken a class in classroom management, and she had not taken a methods class. I really think both of those should be required!
     
  11. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    Jun 27, 2008

    slinkytoy -- thanks for the heads up on that! Rather than be offended (as an ACP), I appreciate your comments and would also appreciate hearing more. Right now, I am spending most of my time planning and going over classroom management (I am especially focusing on the first few weeks as being crucial to establish patterns/procedures). I think I will start a new thread on this topic, and would love to hear more from you!
     
  12. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    Jun 27, 2008

    I'm an alt cert teacher, in the state of Ohio (at least in my area) you have to take the methods course at the university before getting a license-and this is after getting a certain score on the Praxis II (score depends on what you are going into, mine was 157). I teach in Kentucky since I'm across the river from it and have passed all 3 Praxis tests that they required. I'm also in a MAT (masters of arts in teaching) program that I have to take to get my perm. license, I have 3 years to take the classes. I have two semesters of practicum where a university professor comes in 2-3 times a semester and observes me. I have a mentor in my district, in my department that observes me as well. By the third year I..along with all new teachers regardless of trad or alt cert..have to take KTIP which is Kentucky teachers internship program, this is where I again, have a mentor and university person observe me and my classes and I keep a portfolio (I think, they have changed some things on the portfolio and what we have to keep starting this coming year)
    I have worked my butt off doing the methods courses and going to on-site classes 3-4 times a semester and maintaining a portfolio and doing other types of classwork and tests. I know that I'm not in a traditional teaching program, but I do know that I'm getting just as much or so close its crazy as much experience and teacher education classes as if I got my undergrad in it.

    I have a retired teacher, not in my current district, who thinks that I shouldn't be able to 'take a test and teach' and that I'm not good enough. She however, doesn't know what I have done and doing to teach, she just hears 'take the Praxis test and get a license', which isn't the case by no means.
    I do agree that there should be a set of minimum standards. I wish that every state had the same score for praxis I, II, and III and roughly the same requirements for the university side or something close to it because each state goes on their own road and course and it gets very confusing-For example, in Ohio I need a 157 on a hs SS Praxis II, in KY a 151 (same test) in WV a 147 (same test)..insane to me...
    I also know traditional teachers who have no business being in a classroom even after all the teacher training and classes they've went through. They can't maintain a classroom..even with class mgmt courses under their belt. I think it doesn't matter where your education came from its how you handle yourself and can handle a classroom..some people just aren't meant to teach no matter how much they want to.
     
  13. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Jun 27, 2008

    Teaching is an art in and of itself. You've either got it or you don't, regardless of what kind of training program you went through. It makes no sense to make scape goats out of certain types of teachers when the real problem is so much deeper.
     
  14. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    I think getting into teaching is hard altogether. I think it can sometimes be harder for alt. cert. students. Especially those who work during the day and do classes at night or on the weekend and therefore can't do classroom observations and lessons. I have a few friends that did alt. cert., with no classroom experience. It takes a while to adjust but many of them are excellent teachers once they get a few years under their belt. I also have friends who went the traditional route. A few of them can't find jobs (and some I would NOT hire), and some have been fired or quit, teaching just wasn't for them. I went through a traditional program and was only mildly prepared for what teaching actually is. You don't know until you actually experience it.
     
  15. kkuchtah

    kkuchtah Rookie

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    I went through the trad way and see most of the points that you all are bringing to the table. I students taught for a year and believed that this helped me so much more than anything could have, however there are several people I graduated with that with just the question they asked in class I would not put any student in their class. I agree that teaching is an art and you either have it or you don't. I do have a problem with the Alt Cert program. I team taught with a teacher that is alt cert we were both first year teacher in fourth grade. All I hear all year was how she didn't have any support at all but yet I went through the same thing but because I went through the traditional way she wouldn't even consider it. She got the job the same time I did the first of august and was in the classroom with no experience whats so ever. I think that there should have to atleast be some experience in a classroom around students before they let you lose. I atleast knew how to come out strong and atleast act like I knew what I was doing. yes she had real world experience but at what expense to the students. yes she had mentors and liaisons come in and watch her but I had that too but not in my own classroom. But I think it is better to have a alt cert in the high school setting when preparing the students for the real world, I wish I had had more of that in my high school teachers:) I believe it depends on the age of the student and the person in general. I also wish I could tell someone what I really thought about the presentation they just gave that was a repeat three times over lol
     
  16. Noggin

    Noggin Rookie

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    Rather odd. The article specifically mentions Region X which interested me because that is the APC program I went through.

    For me, Region X did require a minimum entrance GPA of 2.5, held multiple mandatory classes on classroom management, had a mentor that came out to my classroom multiple times for on-site advice and support, required an on-campus mentor to coordinate with them as well for more consistent, local support, provided multiple classes on TEKs, state standards and lesson planning in addition to a myriad of other development classes, and required a portfolio of progress. There would also be no getting a missed requirement past the admin working my file. She was militant about due dates and checking every detail with a fine-tooth comb. I am rather curious if my very positive experience with Region X is unusual or if maybe the documents they were auditing were from a while back and the program has improved in recent years. Interesting. Hopefully it is an improved program across the board because the standards certainly should be consistent and high.

    My two cents for the APC vs. Traditional debate:
    I am lucky to have had several college education courses in addition to my alt cert even though I ultimately decided that alt cert was the most practical way to finish for me. Comparing the two experiences- I can say I learned more that I actually use day to day in the alt cert program, but I fall back on theory and concepts from those college classes when I need to completely refocus my direction. So both routes have their merits! I am officially on the fence. :)

    For me personally, I am grateful to have had some experience in the job world outside of education. It makes it very easy to answer the students when they ask how they'll use whatever we're working on in the "real" world! I am also grateful to have entered the classroom a little older with greater patience and balance in my life as a whole. A corporate layover was my personal best route to being a good teacher, but having a 12-week student teaching experience would have also been wonderful had it been possible.

    In the end, do I think I'd be a vastly different (better or worse) teacher if I had finished my last year of cert. in college vs. flipping to alt cert? Nope. Do I think teachers straight out of college are necessarily missing something that I can provide with my job experience? Nope.

    I completely agree with posters above that you have it or you don't. You'll either sink or swim regardless of how you landed in the classroom!
     
  17. Chef Dave

    Chef Dave Companion

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    Sheesh ... so if you really understood me, why are you taking what I said out of context?

    That seems like unnecessary nitpicking to me.

    I'm sorry if you were irked.

    If you understood what I meant, there's really no reason for you to feel this way and this entire conversation was unnecessary.
     
  18. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Noggin-My sister went through a university-based alt cert program. The classes she took for her program went towards her Master's if she chose to go that route (and she did). She did opt for the student teaching experience. She will now graduate in August with her Masters. I don't know if this is just because it was a university-based program.

    I do know that there were 3 kinder teachers one year that came from the local Regional alt cert program. One of them is still teaching at the same district. I applied and interviewed for one of those positions, had passed the required cert. exams, but didn't have the student teaching experience. The job went to one of those alt cert candidates. To say I was a little upset is an understatement. I knew the district could hire me if they wanted because a friend was in the same position and got a job before her student teaching.

     
  19. Noggin

    Noggin Rookie

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    I believe you're right that it's because of University based vs. Regional Alt Cert for the student teaching option. My university also offered a Masters fastrack with student teaching which was the one reason why I couldn't go that route. :( Finances, kids, & current job at the time made the 12 week unpaid internship (and subsequent unemployed limbo until hired by a district) too scary of a situation for my family (and mortgage, lol). I would have loved the experience, but I had to flip to alt cert or keep my current job instead of becoming a teacher. That's why I went alt cert. I guess that is the main hurdle most alt certer's are trying to manage. It would be wonderful if there was a way to work student teaching into all alt cert programs somehow, but I don't know how they'd realistically do it. I am sure someone will come up with a brilliant solution eventually. :)

    I guess they viewed her completed alt cert as being the same as your traditional program minus student teaching? Seems odd. I know when I went alt cert that they told us to expect consideration for jobs only after traditional program candidates. That was the understood risk for us for choosing/needing to go this route. Sorry that happened to you, STG. :(
     
  20. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    My experience is a bit different than most. I landed in a middle school classroom completely unintended. I've you've read any of my previous posts, you know most of the story. I didn't even start my acp until I'd been in a middle school classroom for a couple of months (though I did have classroom experience at a community college...the P basically needed somebody with a heartbeat in front of the classroom). To say the two experiences are different is a massive understatement. There were many times when I wished I'd had some classes in classroom management, or formal lesson plans, and a mentor would have been like having a genie pop out of a bottle. My P was fantastic and really supportive, but other than that, I had no formal guidance. I'm really proud to say that I made it through the year, not only intact, but my students performed really well, but that kind of experience with a different person may not have turned out so good.

    The bottom line is that that both traditional programs and ACP's produce both good and bad teachers, and there are good and bad programs in both camps. There are pros and cons of both routes, but, the people who are going to make good teachers will be good teachers regardless of the route they took. Attempting to villify a particular pathway to certification will lead nowhere and waste countless hours and dollars at the expense of the kids. We need to focus our energy where it really matters...the kids.
     
  21. Mable

    Mable Enthusiast

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    It's hit or miss. Some teachers we've hired from alt programs are good, some are bad and the same goes with traditional programs. I do wonder why some alt programs don't have the same requirements as trad programs as I've experienced it first hand last year gaining my internship hours for my admin license.
     
  22. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Noggin-my sister was lucky in that she worked for her dad in a position that could have been done at any time. She went to her student teaching and then worked what her dad needed her to get done.
    And we (trad at my college) were under the assumption that we would get hired b/f alt cert interviewees.

    I agree that you either have what it takes to be a teacher, or you don't regardless of the program your path you took to the classroom.
     
  23. Mable

    Mable Enthusiast

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    Jun 28, 2008

    so true
     
  24. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    In the beginning of every school year our local news does a story and interviews parents to say "Hey, you know your child's teacher isn't really certified?". Every year it makes me mad. Every Alt. Cert. program I have ever seen gives these potential teachers SOME training before they go into the classroom. If they didn't have these programs, do you know who would be teaching their children-a substitute - who may have no education experience. Most ACP teachers went through a lot and gave up a lot to become a teacher and therefore have a lot of enthusiasm and passion for teaching. As an adult, it's very difficult to give up one whole semester (or two depending on the school) to devote to unpaid student teaching in the traditional university path. Besides a lot of what you learn in the books doesn't fly when you actually get into the classroom anyway.

    Might I also point out the our current President of the US was a "C" student in college and 48% of the people who voted in our country voted for him.
     
  25. jasrasmom

    jasrasmom Rookie

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    Noggin...I had the same experience as you w/Region 10. All bases were covered before I could move on to the next class. No absences were allowed, and I couldn't take the content exam until all courses were complete. I consistently received email and regular mail notifications concerning my status and what I still needed to complete the program. The article surprised me when it mentioned Region 10.

    As far as being hired as an ACP, we were told by Region 10 instructors (repeatedly) that the school district would have to exhaust their supply of traditional university graduates before they could hire an ACP. I interviewed for several postions, and watched the job go to a recent university grad instead of me! Fortunately, my principal believed I had "what it took" and hired me last year. I had an amazing year!

    I'm on the fence as far as ACP and traditional. ACP worked for me, and I feel fortunate to have several years of business experience prior to teaching. Definitely helped in the classroom. I really think teaching has to "fit" the person. It's not the program that makes a teacher, it's the individual.
     
  26. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Jun 29, 2008

    That sums the whole debate up perfectly.
     
  27. each1teach1

    each1teach1 Cohort

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    I understand the point you're trying to make and I agree, but I can't help but look at that quote and say "and look how that turned out. Worst...president...ever. :whistle::lol::p
     
  28. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    :blush: Yeah, I guess that wasn't the best example to use to bolster my point, huh? I think I was just thinking that someone's performance in college years ago, may not necessarily be a predictor of how they will work out as a teacher. Personally, I think if you struggled in school yourself, you may be able to relate to kids with those issues today.
     
  29. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    I think it is the same as regular university programs - some are better than others. I do happen to think that, in general, teachers who have student taught are better teachers their first year than ACP teachers who haven't been in a classroom. It has a lot to do with prior experiences/life too. Yes, everyone knows someone who breaks that generalization one way or the other, but overall, that seems to be the case. After a few years it probably evens out with experience.
     

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