sized in NRC, 1999b). People moving into professional schools or professions through nontraditional routes generally expect to take prerequisite and required courses first. And they do so because the financial and other rewards they expect, eventually, make the investment of time and money worthwhile. However, financial compensation and other rewards are much less for teachers than for other professionals.5 Therefore, those who might consider becoming teachers after experience in other professions have few incentives to spend the several years and the money required to take education or subject-matter courses for teacher certification (U.S. Department of Education, 1999; AFT, 2000). Under these conditions, a variety of alternative paths to certification have evolved.6 There has been much debate about both the efficacy of many of these alternative certification programs (e.g., Feistritzer and Chester, 2000; AFT, 2000) and the financial incentives that districts have to hire these individuals rather than teachers with more professional experience.

Involvement of employees in decision- and policy-making: Experience in modern business and industry has pointed to the critical importance of workers at all levels being included in workplace and product design, planning, and decision-making (e.g., Murnane and Levy, 1997; Rust, 1998). Workers who have spent many years assembling products have been found often to be the best people to provide advice to management about ways to increase productivity and efficiency in an industry. And, in turn, workers are being rewarded for this.

However, these kinds of changes in the workplace have not yet reached much of K-12 education. In many school districts, classroom teachers still do not have the authority or power to effect meaningful change in what they do, how they do it, or the environments


According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ Digest of Education Statistics (1999 ed.), the average salary for all teachers across the U.S. in 1997-1998 was $39,385, and since 1990-1991, salaries for teachers have actually fallen slightly after being adjusted for inflation.


The term, “alternative certification,” encompasses a very wide set of philosophies and approaches to allowing people to become teachers. Feistritzer and Chester (2000) state “…‘alternative certification’ has been used to refer to every avenue to becoming licensed to teach, from emergency certification to very sophisticated and well-designed programs that address the professional preparation needs of the growing population of individuals who already have at least a baccalaureate degree and considerable life experience and want to become teachers.” Feistritzer and Chester also point out that nearly all states now offer opportunities to people who have earned college degrees in fields other than education to return to college, major in education, and become certified teachers. Several states provide alternative routes to teaching where individuals with bachelor’s degrees can engage in “on-the-job training” while taking various college level courses (vs. a full-time program). However, many more states are now looking into authorizing other types of alternative pathways to certification.

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