NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 29, 2009

Teachers who enter the profession through an alternative certification program are just as effective in the classroom as those who take a traditional route, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), which released its findings earlier this month after reviewing national data related to teacher certification and test scores.

Pitt County (N.C.) Schools Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Delilah Harris said 216 of about 1,600 Pitt County teachers have either completed requirements for lateral entry, the most common form of alternative certification, or they are still working to fulfill them.  Harris said the NCPA's conclusion isn't that surprising because the success of teachers depends more on the individual than the certification program they completed.

  • A 2001 study by the National Center for Education Evaluation found no statistical difference between the academic achievement of students taught by alternatively certified teachers and those taught by teachers who were traditionally certified.
  • Additionally, a study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that students in fourth and eighth grades who attended school in states with less restrictive alternative certification programs experienced larger gains on test scores.

NCPA officials say that is good news for the school systems that are hiring teachers who earned their certification alternatively more than ever.  From 1992 to 2006, the number of alternative certificates issued rose nationally from 4,000 to 60,000, according to a National Center for Alternative Education study.

Every state has established an alternative certification program, the NCPA says, although the requirements for each program vary.

In most cases, the alternative certification requires at least a bachelor's degree and general knowledge of the subject the person wants to teach, said Leah Gipson, media relations coordinator with the NCPA.  A traditional teaching certificate typically requires a bachelor's degree in education with 30 credits in teaching methodology and psychology as well as field work, she said.

Source: Brock Letchworth, "Lateral entry is effective in schools," Daily Reflector, September 28, 2009; and Rebecca Garcia and Jessica Huseman, "Alternative Certification Programs: Meeting the Demand for Effective Teachers," National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis No. 675, September 1, 2009.

For NCPA study: 


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