Let Them Teach: Bringing Competition to the Teacher Applicant Pool

In the Arizona Republic, Arwynn Mattix, the associate director of Arizona’s No. 1 high school, makes the case for alternative teacher certification.

Given the correlation between teacher quality and student achievement, her main points make a clear argument for offering flexibility for teacher certification:

  • Making routes to the teaching profession less expensive and less time consuming for prospective teachers results in a larger and more diverse pool of applicants which, in turn, results in more teachers in the classrooms, more teachers with math and science degrees, and a higher percentage of minority teachers.
  • Traditional teacher certification does not necessarily translate to high student achievement. On the contrary, states with genuine alternative certification programs have benefited with increased student learning gains on the National Assessment of Education Progress, the nation’s benchmark for student achievement.
  • In Arizona, Charter school teachers are not required to receive state certification. Overall, Arizona charter schools account for less than one quarter of the public schools in the state, yet they account for over seven of the top 10 high schools when ranked by student performance on the 2008 Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) exams.

Mattix’s school, BASIS, is the case in point:

Take for example BASIS Scottsdale, Business Week’s pick for the No. 1 High School in Arizona for Overall Academic Performance. Arizona law does not require charter school teachers to receive certification. At BASIS, less than a quarter of the school’s teachers hold current teaching certificates in any state in the country, but with more than 37 percent of the teachers holding advanced degrees in their disciplines (30 percent of which are Ph.D.s.), student learning gains are off the charts.

For a comprehensive example of how alternative certification works check out the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) here.