Addressing Teacher Shortages in Disadvantaged Schools: Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification and Student Achievement

Sep 12, 2013 4:00 a.m.
Washington, DC

Schools serving low-income students struggle to attract effective teachers. Alternative routes to teacher certification are one strategy intended to help fill teacher shortages by providing a fast-track into the profession, enabling teachers to begin teaching before completing all the requirements for certification. Despite their growing prevalence, alternative routes to certification remain controversial, with critics contending that teachers from these routes are less prepared for teaching than those who follow a traditional path into the profession.

To inform the debate, the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) sponsored two large, multistate, random assignment studies of teachers who took alternative routes to certification: An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification and The Effectiveness of Secondary Math Teachers from Teach For America and the Teaching Fellows Programs. The two studies, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, provide not only a portrait of these teachers across a range of grades but also insight into certification programs that are geared toward hiring effective teachers in hard-to-staff schools.

A distinguished panel of experts discussed these studies and how they contribute to the broader policy discussion about teacher recruitment and effectiveness.

The panel of experts included:

  • Elizabeth Warner, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education (moderator)
  • Melissa Clark, Mathematica (presenter)
  • Jill Constantine, Mathematica (presenter)
  • Vicki Bernstein, Executive Director of Teacher Recruitment and Quality, New York City Department of Education (discussant)
  • Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, Brookings Institution (discussant)