Alternative Certification Is Being Undermined by Schools of Education

Published December 1, 2007

A study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and national Council on Teacher Quality concludes alternative teacher certification programs are proving to be more of a setback to education reform than an asset.

Alternative certification programs were designed to be a means of training teachers without going through colleges of education. Over the past 20 years, the number of alternatively trained teachers has increased 20 percent nationwide.

Unfortunately, said Fordham Institute President Chester E. Finn Jr., the quality of those graduates is low because entry standards are also low: Two-thirds of the programs studied accept half or more of applicants, and one-fourth accept virtually all of them.

Continuing Monopoly

The study, released in September and titled “Alternative Certification Isn’t Alternative,” by Kate Walsh and Sandi Jacobs, also found one-third of the alternative certification programs require at least 30 hours of coursework in education schools–about the same amount as is required for a master’s degree.

In addition, nearly 70 percent of alternative programs studied turned out to be run by education schools as a means of maintaining their monopoly on the business.

“The education school establishment has managed to undermine and trip the reformers,” Finn said in a news release accompanying the study. “When it came to alternative certification, the ed schools apparently decided that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Now alternative certification itself has been co-opted and compromised. The empire has struck back.”

Karla Dial ([email protected]) is managing editor of School Reform News.

For more information …

“Alternative Certification Isn’t Alternative,” by Kate Walsh and Sandi Jacobs, is available through PolicyBot™, The Heartland Institute’s free online research database. Point your Web browser to and search for document #22264.