Teacher Preparation Expanding, Policies Improving
Nearly one-third of new teacher hires throughout America (compared to 15% in Delaware) are trained by alternative certification programs, according to a recently released report by the National Center for Alternative Certification. These programs, which bypass traditional higher education preparation routes, recruit and select talented individuals interested in taking their diverse experiences into the classroom while providing them with the necessary pedagogical training to be successful.
Alternative routes to teacher certification are not new to Delaware; before 2009, there were multiple programs that operated in the state. However, over the past few years, Delaware has expanded access to national providers with promising results, including Teach For America and the Delaware Teaching Fellows. These organizations are a critical component of our Race to the Top goal of increasing access among our high-needs students to highly-effective educators.
Several school districts allocated funds in their Race to the Top plans to forge partnerships with these national best practice providers within their district:
- $380,438 has been allocated to the Delaware Teaching Fellows from five districts, including Capital, Christina, Indian River, Laurel, and Woodbridge; and
- Additional districts have allocated funds to programs that produce highly-effective educators, which could include those from both traditional and alternate routes.
In addition to opening up our doors to these highly-effective programs, the State Board of Education will consider regulations later this month that will allow approved providers to train and certify their candidates without going through higher education institutions. This is a critical step towards ensuring these programs are sustained long-term by providing them the freedom to train and support their candidates as they see fit, and aligns with the direction federal and other leading state policies are moving.
We welcome these programs, and corresponding policy changes, into our state. It is our hope that districts take advantage of the extra funds to develop strong partnerships with these programs, analyze what practices make these programs successful (potentially influencing current district practices), and choose to sustain these programs within their district after Race to the top funding is removed.