NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Is Certification Required for Teacher Success?

October 13, 2011

Employers look for résumé signals to prescreen job applicants, such as attendance at an esteemed college or work experience at a reputable firm.  But research indicates that, in the teaching profession, completion of a standard certification program doesn't always signal competency in the classroom.  In fact, teacher certification does not have a strong relationship with student achievement -- effective teachers are better identified after having some classroom experience, says Jonathan Butcher, education director for the Goldwater Institute.

Alternative teacher certifications have gained a lot of ground.  By 2009, 47 states had adopted some form of alternative certification.  But some alternatives are better than others.  Indeed, a 2009 study found striking differences in the programs.

  • In those states that had alternative certification routes requiring the applicant to take fewer than 30 credit hours of course work, students between 2003 and 2007 saw greater test score gains in math and reading than their peers in other states.
  • In addition, there were more minority teachers in states with effective alternative certification programs.
  • This is a critical finding because of the general shortage of minorities in the profession over the last decade.

Alternative programs provide more ways for talented professionals from all walks of life to enter the teaching workforce, says Butcher.

Source: Jonathan Butcher, "Is Certification Required for Teacher Success?" Goldwater Institute, October 11, 2011.


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