Alternative Route To Certification- Is It Really An Alternative For Teachers?

Many teachers gain their certification through traditional university and degree programs. Others choose to get their  teaching license through an alternative route program, where they do not go through this regular process. An Education World article by Nicole Gorman discusses how a study (conducted by the Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College and the Graduate School of Education at the University of California) found that alternative route teachers are more likely to quit teaching compared to teachers that went through a traditional university program. The article explains that “a lack of support on-the-job and training that did not involve student teaching” lead to these teachers leaving. Vanderbilt University also stated that “The AC teachers who received additional supports from the school (mentorship, teacher collaboration, professional development) were less likely to leave—but many schools simply didn’t have such resources to give.”    

From personal experience, this makes complete sense. I would not have survived student teaching if it wasn’t for my mentor and other professors giving me the support I needed. After I got my teaching certificate, they were still willing to help me figure out my current and future career options. But even with my experience in student teaching and the support of the FDU faculty, I still felt overwhelmed when I took my first teaching job. There were so many new things and challenges I had to figure out on my own. The administration and other teachers really weren’t able to train me and there was a lack of support. As someone who went through the necessary training and still had trouble, I can fully understand why someone without this training and support would struggle as a teacher. There are so many things to consider as a new teacher, and doing them without the proper guidance may seem impossible.

Another issue about alternative route is the hiring ratio. Based on my personal experience, it seems that schools are less likely to hire alternative route teachers. One of my past coworkers said that he went through the whole process and got his certification. However, schools wouldn’t hire him because he lacked experience. And he isn’t the only one I have heard this from. It makes sense from an administrator’s point of view. Hiring a more experienced teacher is the obvious choice. But how is anyone supposed to gain the proper knowledge and credentials if no one will hire them? There is always substituting, but that is never ideal. 

These problems are real and worrisome. It is a shame that alternative route teachers have to deal with this. What is supposed to be another way toward a career path seems more like a dead end. The idea of alternative route is a good one in my opinion. People can get their certification while raising a family or working on another career without paying an arm and a leg to a university. It is also a shame that more schools do not have resources like mentorship or professional development, although I know the State of New Jersey has a Provisional Teacher Process. Programs like these would help not only alternative route teachers, but new or struggling teachers as well.

No matter what path they choose, I hope that anyone who takes the time to get their certification will be able to survive and thrive in the world of education.

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