Alternative Certification -- For Lawyers

Here's an NPR piece that describes how folks in Vermont and a handful of other states can become lawyers without going to law school or even necessearily finishing college -- and how some law schools are responding by integrating this apprenticeship model (Reading the Law in Vermont).

This is basically alternative certification for lawyers, right? Well, we've got alt cert coming out of our ears, but -- so far as I know -- relatively little changes in the mainstream university-based teacher training programs that still produce most new teachers. When is that going to happen, does anyone know?


Anonymous Jade Floyd, Communications Manager, AACTE said...

In actuality, almost 80% of alternative route programs for teachers are housed in Colleges of Education across the country; Georgia State U and Kansas State U to name a few.

It is the rouge alternative programs who give this method of supplying teachers a bad rap. They produce teachers who are often under-prepared and inexperienced who leave the profession soon after becoming certified.

In addressing the apprenticeship model you mentioned, there are a number of Professional Development Schools (PDS), which are education’s equivalent of a teaching hospital, where students participate in externships at local schools. These PDS programs, such as Bank Street College of Education’s program in NY, U of Alabama, Georgia State U and U of S. Carolina, are highly effective and put well-prepared teachers into struggling schools faster and reduce the number of turnovers in high-needs districts.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Alexander Russo said...

thanks for your comment, jade, and yes, i do understand that most alt cert programs run through or with ed schools.

what i don't understand -- maybe you can help me out -- is why there are still so few PDS programs, that is, why the "regular" certification path still seems so classroom- and theory- based.

but again, maybe i've just missed the boat.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Elliott Lessen, President, National Association for Professional Development Schools said...

My sense is that many programs have moved to the more “clinical” model for teacher candidates. That is to say, whether called a “partnership” or a “professional development school,” many teacher preparation programs have candidates “in the field” in partner schools for the better part of two years or more. Many programs have candidates in schools as early as the freshmen or sophomore year. Some experiences are in conjunction to an “intro to teacher education” where students, as in any other field, explore the complexities of teaching so that they can make a more informed decision regarding choosing teaching as a career path.

Once admitted into a teacher preparation program, some candidates spend two or three ½ days or full days in schools. These experiences may be for a year, during which time candidates are also taking courses on campus or, in some instances, those that are offered on-site in schools. Many programs have a more intensive experience the semester prior to the “student teaching” semester. This latter experience is typically full-time, that is five days/week for the full semester.

Teacher education units, especially those that are large with regard to the number of candidates and/or have a number of different program options (elementary education, special education, secondary education, etc.), work with school districts to achieve a mutually determined, collaborative partnership that will be beneficial to the P-12 students, the teacher candidates, and to both faculties. Unlike traditional observations and student teaching placements, PDSs evolve after much hard work, and the investment of time and resources from the school districts and the university. In some instances (e.g., Maryland), there is some funding to off-set the costs associated with PDSs.

PDS work, unlike just “placing” student teachers in schools, is time, energy, and resource consuming. The National Association for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) has developed PDS standards which can be used to guide the development of a PDS. However, the real work comes in developing the partnerships, deciding on an organizational structure so that the PDS structural work gets accomplished, developing a tenor or consensus and collaborative effort, engaging in the PDS work, and always being cognizant of the continual evolutionary process that is involved. This latter piece is made more apparent by the change in students and candidates from year to year as well as faculty and administrative changes.

This is all to say that many university-based teacher preparation programs are doing things differently. Perhaps the lack of data systems that allow for such changes to be studied is more the issue than the lack of change in teacher preparation programs themselves.

1:03 PM  

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