At the NewSchools Venture Fund Summit this morning, News Corp. executive and former NYC schools chancellor Joel Klein claimed that "most" teachers believe the traditional teacher credentialing process--coursework and student teaching followed by a state certification exam--is useless.
"Most of the people who've gone through it don't think the credential is valuable," Klein said.
There are very few polls of the American teacher corps, but the surveys that do exist show Klein is mischaracterizing teachers' views. The majority of teachers believe there is value in entering the profession only after studying education and pedagogy both as a student and a student-teacher, and then taking a certification exam. What's more, teachers who do come into the profession through accelerated, alternative-route programs are the most likely to feel unprepared during their first year in the classroom.
In 2007 Public Agenda surveyed 865 first-year teachers in high-needs schools, some of whom had graduated from traditional teaching programs, others who entered the profession through Teach for America, the New Teacher Project, and Troops to Teachers. Eighty percent of the teachers with traditional training reported feeling prepared during their first year on the job, compared to just 50 percent of the alternative-certification teachers. More than half of alt-route teachers said they hadn't spent enough time training with an experienced mentor teacher; only 20 percent of traditionally-trained teachers felt the same.
That same year, Education Sector, a think tank that supports alternative-certification programs, polled 1,010 teachers on hot-button issues in school reform. While 54 percent of respondents supported efforts to recruit career-changers into teaching, just 43 percent liked the idea of replacing traditional teacher-training and certification with on-the-job "supervision, observation, and mentoring."
"Most" teachers, it turn outs, want more preparation for the classroom, not less.