How Do You Make a Great Teacher?

A new federal report on teacher quality asserts that teachers who enter teaching through nontraditional routes have the same impact on student performance as teachers from traditional teaching programs. Responding to the perpetually hot debate on the effectiveness of alternative teacher certification programs, such as Teach for America and The New Teacher Project, An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification compares the achievement of elementary school students in the same grade, at the same school who were randomly assigned to teachers from traditional and nontraditional teaching programs.

Critics of alternative certification programs argue that the teachers produced by these programs are less effective and harder to retain, due to the minimal preparation they receive prior to teaching.

This new study supports others findings which advocate for alternative programs, described in this op-ed by Education Sector co-founder and co-director Andrew Rotherham, as well as this study from Louisiana State University, which shows that novice teachers in Baton Rouge and New Orleans who earned their teacher certification through the Louisiana Practitioner Teacher Program outperformed experienced teachers in improving students’ performance in math, reading, and language arts.

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