- Utah has recently adopted a new Academic Pathway to Teaching, an alternative certification program similar to those offered in many other states, in order to help address the teacher shortage issue, District Administration reports.
- Under the program, Utah school districts take on the responsibility of providing these alternative-credential teachers with mentoring, classroom management training and pedagogical professional development before these teachers must begin the process of getting a traditional license.
- Such programs are generally opposed by teachers unions, but seem to be widely accepted by parents and most school districts because these teachers offer new perspectives to the classroom.
Some form of alternative credentialing for educators in now available in almost every state in America as the concept is gathering wider acceptance, especially has the option to hire newly-minted teachers from college educational programs is becoming more difficult in some areas and in certain subject areas. These programs often such draw in professionals who have career experience, but are now interested in putting their skills to work in a classroom.
School administrators generally find these teachers to be an asset to the classroom because they tend to have a more in-depth knowledge of their content area, more maturity, and more real-world experience than teachers who come through traditional pathways. According to David Saba, former president the American Board of Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), a majority of principals his organization has surveyed prefer ABCTE teachers over candidates from standard routes. Such programs also tend to expand the number of minority teachers in school districts as well. Such teachers are especially sought after in hard-to-fill courses such as math, science, special education, foreign language, technical education, and business fields.
The disadvantage of such teachers is that they often lack sufficient knowledge of pedagogical concepts such as lesson planning or classroom management. School districts that are the most successful when hiring such teachers commit to providing them sufficient professional development and often have someone at the central office level assigned to helping them through the credentialing and licensing process. This requires additional effort, but can result in the development of exceptional teachers in the process.