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Options in Teacher Preparation: An In-Depth Examination of an Alternative Licensure Program Over a Five-Year Period
Unformatted Document Text:  Options in Teacher Preparation: An In-depth Examination of an Alternative Licensure Program Over a Five Year Period Section 1: Content Statement of the issue: The promise of highly qualified teachers in every classroom is more challenging in light of today’s teacher shortages. Today’s educators require greater depth and breadth in knowledge and skills. Teachers are expected to ensure that students learn and can perform at high levels in order to participate effectively in society (Goodlad, 1990). Through greater accountability of teachers and students, and with the greater involvement of the public, as defined in No Child Left Behind, the effectiveness of teachers is paramount and highly visible. Trend data, however, reveal that the nation may be facing a crisis teacher shortage. As former Education Secretary Richard Riley stated, “The challenge is to make sure that there is a talented, dedicated teacher in every classroom. Yet, we are falling short of that goal.” (Coloradoan, 2000, p. 6). Estimates have projected that there will be a demand for up to two million new teachers over the next 10 years due to attrition and retirement of present teachers (USA Today, 2001, p. 14a). Providing high quality teachers during a time of teacher shortage has given momentum to alternative teacher licensing programs. As more alternative routes to teacher licensing exist, the question of teacher effectiveness is frequently raised. Alternative licensing programs provide an opportunity for individuals to begin teaching without substantive pedagogical training (Rollin, Solomon, & Solomon, 2005). During the alternative licensing period, teacher candidates earn salaries and maintain the same responsibilities as traditionally trained teachers. Those considering entering the teaching profession often view this “quick” entry into the classroom favorably and enthusiastically. Alternative licensing attracts more candidates to the teaching profession, thereby favorably influencing the teacher shortage. Yet, questions on the quality of alternatively licensed teachers and their efficacy, especially during the alternative licensing period, have been raised (Wyman, W. & Kozleski, E., 2005). Evertson, Hawley, and Zlotnik (1985) stated, “The need for research about alternative certification programs is urgent.” And, Natriello (1992) suggested that alternative routes to licensing “are like many other education innovations, an idea that has been widely adopted well ahead of evidence of its effectiveness.” The opportunity is rich to examine candidates participating in one alternative licensing program in rural northeast Colorado. This program has been in existence during the past five years and has enrolled 39 teacher candidates (five in the first year, nine in the second year, eight in the third year, nine in the fourth year, and eight in the fifth year). Responses from the first three groups of candidates may be especially enlightening since these teachers have now fully completed the preparation program. Data from the candidates who are currently progressing through the two-year program will also be shared. Insights from mentors and school administrations are essential to better ascertain the effectiveness of these new teachers. Literature review: Today, teacher preparation is perhaps the most highly scrutinized professional training program in higher education (e.g., see The Teaching Commission, 2004). No Child Left Behind mandated that there be a highly qualified teacher in every classroom. The intense attention focusing on reform of teacher preparation indicates that today’s policymakers, practitioners, and public constituents are concerned about teacher preparation regarding the ability to distinguish effective from less effective teachers (Darling-Hammond, 1999; Sanders & Rivers, 1996). While research clearly demonstrates that effective teachers can make a difference on student performance (e.g. Haycock, 1998), even supporters of public education worry about the nation’s ability to prepare effective teachers. The effects of alternatively licensed teachers in the workplace need to be explored (Barnes, Salmon, & Wale, 1989). Stoddart & Floden (1995) further clarified the need for this research by identifying a number of questions, including a) “What is the relationship between one’s subject matter and being able to teach it effectively?” b) “What are the consequences of learning to teach while on the

Authors: Whaley, David. and Lofquist, Peggy.
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Options in Teacher Preparation: An In-depth Examination of an Alternative Licensure Program
Over a Five Year Period
Section 1: Content
Statement of the issue:
The promise of highly qualified teachers in every classroom is more challenging in light of
today’s teacher shortages. Today’s educators require greater depth and breadth in knowledge and skills.
Teachers are expected to ensure that students learn and can perform at high levels in order to participate
effectively in society (Goodlad, 1990). Through greater accountability of teachers and students, and with
the greater involvement of the public, as defined in No Child Left Behind, the effectiveness of teachers is
paramount and highly visible. Trend data, however, reveal that the nation may be facing a crisis teacher
shortage. As former Education Secretary Richard Riley stated, “The challenge is to make sure that there is
a talented, dedicated teacher in every classroom. Yet, we are falling short of that goal.” (Coloradoan,
2000, p. 6). Estimates have projected that there will be a demand for up to two million new teachers over
the next 10 years due to attrition and retirement of present teachers (USA Today, 2001, p. 14a).
Providing high quality teachers during a time of teacher shortage has given momentum to
alternative teacher licensing programs. As more alternative routes to teacher licensing exist, the question
of teacher effectiveness is frequently raised.
Alternative licensing programs provide an opportunity for individuals to begin teaching without
substantive pedagogical training (Rollin, Solomon, & Solomon, 2005). During the alternative licensing
period, teacher candidates earn salaries and maintain the same responsibilities as traditionally trained
teachers. Those considering entering the teaching profession often view this “quick” entry into the
classroom favorably and enthusiastically. Alternative licensing attracts more candidates to the teaching
profession, thereby favorably influencing the teacher shortage. Yet, questions on the quality of
alternatively licensed teachers and their efficacy, especially during the alternative licensing period, have
been raised (Wyman, W. & Kozleski, E., 2005). Evertson, Hawley, and Zlotnik (1985) stated, “The need
for research about alternative certification programs is urgent.” And, Natriello (1992) suggested that
alternative routes to licensing “are like many other education innovations, an idea that has been widely
adopted well ahead of evidence of its effectiveness.”
The opportunity is rich to examine candidates participating in one alternative licensing program
in rural northeast Colorado. This program has been in existence during the past five years and has
enrolled 39 teacher candidates (five in the first year, nine in the second year, eight in the third year, nine
in the fourth year, and eight in the fifth year). Responses from the first three groups of candidates may be
especially enlightening since these teachers have now fully completed the preparation program. Data
from the candidates who are currently progressing through the two-year program will also be shared.
Insights from mentors and school administrations are essential to better ascertain the effectiveness of
these new teachers.
Literature review:
Today, teacher preparation is perhaps the most highly scrutinized professional training program in
higher education (e.g., see The Teaching Commission, 2004). No Child Left Behind mandated that there
be a highly qualified teacher in every classroom. The intense attention focusing on reform of teacher
preparation indicates that today’s policymakers, practitioners, and public constituents are concerned about
teacher preparation regarding the ability to distinguish effective from less effective teachers (Darling-
Hammond, 1999; Sanders & Rivers, 1996). While research clearly demonstrates that effective teachers
can make a difference on student performance (e.g. Haycock, 1998), even supporters of public education
worry about the nation’s ability to prepare effective teachers.
The effects of alternatively licensed teachers in the workplace need to be explored (Barnes,
Salmon, & Wale, 1989). Stoddart & Floden (1995) further clarified the need for this research by
identifying a number of questions, including a) “What is the relationship between one’s subject matter
and being able to teach it effectively?” b) “What are the consequences of learning to teach while on the


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