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TC: Dissention about the Current Certification Process

Page history last edited by Esther Cho 14 years, 3 months ago



Dissention about the Current Certification Process


            The creation of alternative programs such as various teacher residency programs implies that there is dissension about the current certification process in Massachusetts.  In 2003, Strategic Grant Partners (SGP), a private Boston foundation asked Dr. Thomas Pezant, the former Superintendent of Boston Public Schools (BPS) and a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, “What is a problem you are unable to fix with the resources you have?”  Dr. Pezant responded, “[The] pipeline of teachers into the BPS was not filling the district’s needs” (Solomon, 2009, p.478).   Dr. Pezant reveals his dissatisfaction with the quality of the teaching workforce.  He and leaders like Jesse Solomon, the creator of Boston Teacher Residency (BTR), and other head people involved in alternative certification movements, would criticize many university-based teacher-education as programs that have “low admission standards and meaningless coursework” (Solomon, 2009, p. 479).  Furthermore, according to Walsh & Jacobs (2007), nearly one out of five teachers in the U.S. becomes an educator through an alternative route.  Why would someone like Dr. Pezant support BTR, which follows a “lengthier apprenticeship model coupled with intense coursework” (Solomon, 2009, p.479) as opposed to the traditional teacher certification process?  The answer stems from the lack of proper assessments such as performance-based evaluations that would increase the chance of sifting out the excellent and good teachers from the mediocre ones. 


            Paul Toner, the Vice President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) and former President of the Cambridge Teachers Association supports finding and recruiting quality teachers when he states, “The most important factor in the formal education of our students is the quality of the educators in our classrooms” (MTA Today, 2007, p.20).   He also represented the MTA Board that voted to support drafting a bill entitled An Act to Ensure Educator Excellence, which aimed to improve teacher quality through systemic changes – many of the primary proposals concern teacher preparation and certification.  Furthermore, MTA claims they want “to be proactive in addressing issues of teacher quality in our Commonwealth” (MTA Today, 2007, p.20).  In the same way, Teachers21, an advocacy and professional development organization supports the bill and it calls the “third leg of the stool for “standards and accountability,” and “equitable funding for school districts” (MTA Today, 2007, p.20). 

          Unfortunately, the existing standards for initial certification in Massachusetts do not sufficiently necessitate a way to find quality teachers.   The current requirements include only a bachelor’s degree, a passing score on the MTEL and the completion of an educator preparation program, which varies in quality throughout the state.  (Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 2009).  Arguably, critics could claim that student teaching is a way to assess a person’s potential as a successful educator, but a semester long practicum where a candidate teaches only a few classes without the myriad responsibilities and pressures outside of the classroom, is not a sufficient way to determine a successful educator.  There needs to be a better way to assess a potential candidate’s ability to be a quality teacher such as integrating a portfolio element to the process of initial certification. Therefore, as discussed more specifically in Section Four, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education should explicitly integrate better performance-based assessments into their certification process.





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