National Initiatives in alternative teacher certification : advantages and disadvantages of alternative instructional licensure
Koller-Morris, Julie M.
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The public school districts in Illinois are in the process of developing alternative routes to teacher certification programs based on legislation passed in 1998. This legislative decision is forcing educators to develop programs while trying to determine how public education may or may not be affected by this process. This study surveyed the perceptions of public school certified employees by relating their perceptions to what is currently established in the literature and what has been developed in state policies across the United States. A document analysis was completed of study participants in alternative certification programs being utilized in the United States. An intensive literature review was conducted with the information gathered from the states' programs being cross referenced with the information obtained from the literature. A questionnaire based on findings from the state policies and literature, as well as from perceptions of certified school personnel gathered through a Nominal Group Technique, was developed and given to teachers and school officials in Illinois public high-school districts. Ten major issues were consistent among the state programs as being important components of a successful alternative route to teacher certification programs. These issues were supported by findings in the literature. Another finding included the issue of the alternative certification candidate as learner. The literature devoted much time to this topic and concluded that we need to address the needs of adult learners more effectively when developing teacher certification programs. At no point in the study was this issue validated or not validated by state programs or perceptions of certified school employees. These important findings of this study were: (1) the fact that even though all states participating in the study have their own programming based on the needs of their particular states, there are very clear components of these programs consistent among the states; and (2) school personnel and state programming have not spent time looking at the needs of the adult learners who will be participating in these teacher certification programs. Further studies need to address the adult learner and how their issues impact teacher certification programs.