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CTE Policy Watch

Alternatively Certified Teachers Effective, But Need Feedback


March 22, 2013

By: Anthony Mitchell, ACTE intern

With debate ongoing as to the effectiveness of CTE teachers who come to teaching from practicing their area of expertise in business and industry, also known as alternative certification, a study on the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) induction model for alternatively certified teachers recently released by the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE) intends to shed light on the issue.

In partnership with the NRCCTE, SREB has been testing an induction model for new CTE teachers entering the profession through alternative certification. The model aims to improve these new teachers' ability to design and deliver engaging, rigorous and standards-focused instruction. It includes a 10-day summer institute prior to the first year of teaching, followed up by three two-day workshops during the first year and a second summer institute at the end of the first year.  The model also includes coaching from a professional development instructor, on-site mentorship and an electronic community of practice for sharing questions and feedback.

Using results from field tests of this model, the researchers find that a CTE teacher from an industry profession is able to adapt faster and more successfully if he or she relates the material back to his or her former job. While teachers who come directly from another profession will feel confident in their mastery of the material, according to the study, they will likely struggle to relay the information to students.

In addition, findings indicate that alternatively-certified teachers will likely need frequent feedback on their work and ways to manage the classroom effectively. The findings also suggest that each teacher be given a basic literacy and mathematics examination to judge their ability. Additionally, each new CTE teacher should participate in a professional development program to acclimate themselves to the teaching environment.

Despite added steps before an alternatively-certified teacher is ready to enter the classroom, the study cites a report from Mathematica Policy Research, which finds that there is no difference in student math and reading performance between a traditionally-certified teacher and one who entered from a different profession.

Anthony Mitchell is an intern at ACTE and attends Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, where he studies Communications with an emphasis in journalism.

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