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Friday, February 17, 2017

Expert Teachers Fall Through Alternative Certification Cracks

Critics of alternative certification often express dismay that alternative certification could possible qualify someone who has no prior teaching experience.

“I am still waiting for the "alternative certification" programs in law, medicine, surgery, and pharmacy. I hear that those fields pay more than teaching, so I think that I might try my hand at one of those. Should only take 6 weeks or so to get through the program and be proclaimed "highly qualified" and I can get right to work on heart surgery, or filling prescriptions.

See? Sounds ludicrous now, does it not?”

It is a valid criticism, but assumes that all who seek alternative certification are starting from scratch. Not so.  Expert teachers moving to another state for whatever reason often have difficulty getting recertified. 

If you were a Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DODDS) teacher, returning from overseas may mean coming home to chronic unemployment.  For example, back in the 1980s DODDS began requiring all its teachers to take National Teacher Exams (NTE) regardless of how long a teacher had been effectively teaching. 

But in the US, these DODDS teachers found that many states would not accept NTE scores no matter how high the teacher's percentile score.  Nor would the states accept other documentation of competence like evaluation, publications, even student test scores on the Stanford 9, or anything else.  Some states even told these teachers they would have to get new masters degrees because their "old" one was now out-of-date, as if a terminal degree can expire. 

Many older teachers began teaching before student teaching became a requirement.  Some states will allow letters certifying experience to stand in for the student teaching requirement as long as the letters are not too old.  A teacher may be able to acquire a "provisional" teaching credential convertible to a standard credential if the teacher gets a K-12 job within two years.

The longest allowable letter of experience interval I saw was five years.  Most are three years.  But since schools will not  hire even certified older out-of-district teachers, they certainly will not even look at you if you are not certified.  They may apologize for not hiring a certified teacher due to budget, but if you are uncertified, they are happy to reject you without any apology.  Two years pass and the provisional credential expires.  One more year and the letters of experience are no good.

Plenty of great teachers are waiting tables, filing medical charts, preparing taxes, whatever.