4 Things That Educators Should Know About Becoming a Certified Teacher

The teachers of the twenty-first century have to deal with an explosion of information and technology, changing learning environments, and a high degree of pressure on children to succeed. This has led to an urgent need to revolutionize teacher education. It is no longer sufficient to merely impart knowledge, assign homework, and dispense grades based on tests. The onus lies on teacher education programs to provide multifaceted experiences for prospective teachers. Proper screening, selection, training, and assessment of students in teacher education are imperative, as they are in turn responsible for the education, development, and welfare of the students that they will teach.

Teacher education in America has faced severe criticism in recent times for being too traditional. The efficacy of teacher preparation programs is often a subject of debate. Several “alternate routes” to teacher education have been in the spotlight, but there is no real consensus on the efficacy of such teacher education programs among researchers. The conversation continues, and, if you are called to the profession, you too will be part of this conversation. This article should help you focus your thoughts on the process of becoming a certified teacher, and what the realities of teaching are.

What is the traditional route to becoming a teacher? Each state has its own certification standards and requirements for teacher education programs. Most traditional routes involve a bachelor’s degree, certification, and the completion of Praxis I and II, which test basic reading, writing, mathematical, and pedagogical skills. A license authorizes you to teach, whereas a certification is an indication of what you are qualified to teach. Teachers generally take theoretical and practical courses, as well as focusing on areas of specialty. They also take part in field experience, which is an important part of the teacher education process.

What are the alternative routes to becoming a teacher? Alternate-route programs provide opportunities for individuals who do not have a formal background in education to enter the teaching profession. They were instituted to counter the teacher shortage. Minimum requirements usually include a B-grade college average, and the ability to pass a basic skills test and a test in an area of specialization. The necessary steps to the alternate route to teacher certification vary significantly from state to state. Teach for America is a popular alternative program that places students from elite colleges in schools.

Advantages to alternative routes include the reduction of teacher shortages, similar pay scales for less initial work, and the injection of new ideas into classrooms. However, some educators opposed to alternative routes claim that the teachers are not prepared to teach, and studies indicate that certified teachers produced significantly higher student achievement.

What are some roadblocks to becoming a teacher? A major hurdle on the path to becoming a teacher is the labyrinth of the certification process. For this reason, some researchers advocate easing the requirements for certification. Improvements in working conditions, teacher education, and mentoring may help alleviate the shortage of teachers. A major issue under discussion is teacher compensation. Teachers are not well paid compared to other occupations, which is one reason for teachers leaving the profession, and for job dissatisfaction. Merit-based pay is one option often discussed, though this has drawbacks.

How are teachers in various settings certified? Traditionally, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) have been the two main bodies responsible for the certification of teachers and education schools. They aim to bring accountability to teacher preparation and ensure that graduates of teacher-education programs possess the necessary skills and temperament to enable students to learn. NCATE and TEAC are in the process of merging into a new organization, the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation’s (CAEP).

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