This school year, about 200 people took Ohio’s alternative route to teaching.
Alternative certification allows college graduates who didn’t major in education to get into the classroom and start teaching quickly. These career-changing teachers represent less than 1 percent of Ohio teachers.
The National Council on Teacher Quality, a non-partisan group that advocates for policy changes that “increase the number of effective teachers,” says Ohio state officials have done a good job of setting these teachers — and their students — up for success.
In its biennial State Policy Yearbook, the group gave Ohio a “B+” in the category of “Expanding the Teaching Pool.” That’s the category that focuses on alternative certification.
“With all the emphasis on teacher effectiveness…we want to be looking at who we’re bringing into the profession and having alternatives is very important, particularly if there are high standards around them,” NCTQ Vice President Sandi Jacobs says.
It’s important to note here that the NCTQ just looked at Ohio’s policies — the laws and rules that guide teacher preparation — in its report. It didn’t look at teachers’ actual performance or, say, compare the performance of alternatively certified Ohio teachers to those from traditional teaching backgrounds.
And they’re not talking about Teach for America here. (In Ohio, Teach for America candidates follow a similar process. They must meet the same GPA requirement and pass content-knowledge tests. But they take a special Teach for America summer course in pedagogy and classroom management, and end up with the same teaching license as graduates of education schools.)
The NCTQ says it’s good that Ohio:
- Requires career-changing teachers to have at least a 2.5 GPA and pass a content-knowledge test before getting their teaching license;
- Allows alternative-route teachers to teach in any grade, subject area and geographic area;
- Allows school districts and non-profit groups to operate alternative certification programs; and
- Permits people with extensive experience in science, math and technology fields to teach part-time.
But the NCTQ says there are things Ohio could do better, like:
- Raising the GPA requirement for teachers taking this alternative route to the classroom to 2.75; and
- Making sure these new teachers have more classroom experience before they start work or guidance from experienced teachers in their first year.
You can find the research that the NCTQ says supports these Ohio’s grade here.