Corrine Muelrath

Corrine Muelrath

California, now more than ever, is facing an urgent need for qualified and talented professionals to enter our teaching workforce. At a time when one-third of California’s educators are nearing retirement, school districts are going to need the thousands of teachers entering the profession through alternative certification programs, which allow candidates to teach in the classroom while simultaneously earning their teaching credential. This is not the time for hasty policy decisions that threaten to further dismantle the state’s Learning to Teach System. Eliminating guaranteed funding will result in increased tuition fees for those entering the teaching profession.

In 2009, in an effort to maximize local school district flexibility, the Legislature allowed districts to use for any educational purpose funding that was previously targeted for specific programs, including several important teacher credential programs. The loss of dedicated funding has resulted in a steady erosion of program infrastructure and decreased capacity for support and supervision. And now, legislation currently being debated proposes an increase in local decision-making, pitting those newest to the profession against every other budget priority. This competition for funds can have disastrous consequences for teacher preparation: funding shortages will result in higher costs for teacher candidates and uncertainty for the programs’ futures.

Local control of funding can be a positive thing when it comes to decisions about each school district’s students. But when it comes to a statewide system of teacher preparation, we need an equitable and fair continuum that serves all new teachers in the state. Is this really the time to shift California’s attention away from a successful statewide system of teacher credentialing?

Consider California’s looming teacher shortage. The Regional Education Laboratory at WestEd found that one-third of the state’s teachers are over the age of 50. More specifically, one-third of math and science teachers will retire within the decade, and 2,000 are lost annually to teacher attrition, leaving the state with an expected need for more than 33,000 math and science educators. The Task Force on Educator Excellence notes that the number of California students is projected to grow steadily, requiring more teachers over the next decade, with demand especially strong in fields such as special education, math, science and English language development, as well as in many high-poverty schools.

The California Teacher Corps represents more than 70 alternative certification programs that would suffer from a loss of guaranteed funding. Our programs provide job-embedded, high-quality teacher preparation to almost 3,000 teachers across the state. This vital pipeline provides California’s teaching force with bright, talented individuals, often second-career professionals with deep levels of expertise and experience, who might not have entered the profession if not for this pathway. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing found that of school districts reporting, 80 percent of these interns are still in the classroom after five years, while almost half of teachers nationally leave the field after just five years, according to the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future.

The more than 400 school districts that hire Teacher Corps teachers value alternative certification programs. They recognize that having multiple pathways into the classroom is an invaluable asset to our public schools. They are hiring teachers from these programs because they consistently deliver results and help diversify our teaching force: 47 percent are from underrepresented minorities, 50 percent more males go through the alternative pathway than traditional programs, and two-thirds of Teacher Corps teachers are earning their credentials in special education. Districts also value the rich pool of second-career professionals who want to give back to their community – including scientists, accountants, lawyers, military servicemen and women, technology specialists and countless others who are ready to make a long-term commitment to our communities and students.

California, a leader in teacher preparation and new teacher support, has come a long way from the old “sink or swim” mentality. We know high quality teacher training is critical in order to prepare our students to be career, college and life ready. The recent SDP Human Capital Diagnostic (Center for Education Policy Research, Harvard University, 2012) indicates that teachers learn the most during their first two years on the job. Supporting teachers during their first few years of teaching is critical in ensuring that California’s students receive the best education.

We believe California has a duty to invest in our teachers. Without a well-funded and supported pipeline of skilled educators, California’s students will suffer the consequences. As a state, we need to systematically and financially support the educational culture we want and are willing to develop in California. Teachers are the most important component of a good educational system and we know they are worth our investment!


Corinne Muelrath is the Executive Director of the California Teacher Corps. In her role as the Regional Director for the North Coast Beginning Teacher Program (CCSESA Region One) for 12 years, she developed and directed induction, intern and paraprofessional teacher training programs that served as models across the state. She has also been a classroom teacher, school principal and district superintendent in Sonoma County. She is on California’s Board of Institutional Reviewers and is the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Intern Regional Director for Region One in Northern California.

Filed under: Commentary, Featured, Preparation

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  1. Paul says:

    Andrew, your comparison of California’s traditional and internship pathways is incorrect. A few minutes spent on the Web site of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing would clear up the misunderstandings.

    Both pathways require the same 31 units of post-baccalaureate coursework. Interns and traditionally-prepared teachers complete exactly the same credential courses.

    Neither the traditional nor the internship pathway includes coursework on subject matter content. All candidates establish subject matter competence before gaining admission to their credential program. It has been well over 40 years since California stopped recognizing an undergraduate major in elementary education; all elementary and most secondary teachers major in a subject matter field (not in “education”) and establish their subject matter competence by passing tests known as CSET. The focus of the subsequent credential program, whether traditional or internship-based, is pedagogy.

    California law and CTC regulations do not contemplate any sort of “teaching credential-lite”.

    1. navigio says:

      Paul, would you be in support of getting rid of the traditional program altogether, ie make all new would-be-teachers ‘interns’? If not, why not?

      1. Paul says:

        Hello, Navigio. Sorry for the delay in responding. I composed this a few days ago but have been on the road, without reliable WiFi.

        I would support replacing the traditional pathway with the internship pathway. To be clear, in California, both pathways have the same pre-admission testing requirements (CBEST, CSET), the same coursework (31 post-baccalaureate units), the same summative assessment (TPA), and the same resulting credential (“preliminary”). The difference is that a traditional candidate serves as a student teacher while studying, whereas an intern works as teacher of record while studying.

        It’s not possible to get an internship credential without a job offer, so the main effect would be a dramatic increase in selectivity. Employers would head off weak candidates at the pass.

        Sadly, uneven distribution makes universal internships untenable. At the system level, state law forbids school districts from hiring interns when preliminary or clear credential-holders are available. At the district level, local contracts stipulate that teachers are assigned by seniority. Thus, interns typically get the most challenging assignments, in the most challenging schools and districts. You and I seem to agree that newcomers, be they interns or traditionally-prepared preliminary credential-holders, need a gentle introduction to the profession. A reasonable first teaching assignment is critical.

        Barring changes to state law and to assignment provisions in local contracts, one policy option would be to add a minimal teacher-of-record experience — a mini-internship, if you will — to all traditional credential programs. Secondary candidates could teach a single middle- or high school class for a whole year, elementary candidates, perhaps one subject for a year, or all subjects for one trimester. Can you think of other ways to reinforce student teaching, for traditional candidates? Working as teacher of record is a much more active learning experience.

        1. navigio says:

          No worries Paul. I owe you at least 10 responses.

          We do agree that its important to minimize the impact that a brand new teacher can have on students (and the teacher’s sanity) if the teacher is unprepared. For many people, this seems to be the most important thing.

          Both types of teachers have a first year in the classroom. If the two tracks end up producing people of different caliber (something you seem to have seen in research, and I think you said to the detriment of traditionals) then I can think of two possible explanations: one is that the pedagogy that the traditional track is actually harmful (seems surprising, and the intern track gets this eventually anyway), the other is that there is something about the process’ selectivity that impacts who is hired or who stays in teaching.

          I think it would be useful to see some evidence on how that manifests. As you point out, this could be because of the fact people need to have a job in order to qualify, it also could be that the intern process is so much harder that it drives out all but the most dedicated up front.

          Personally, I think the first thing might be true in some cases, but there are many where anyone is better than no one. Its why TFA exists. Its one reason, imho, people want to expand intern counts. Even if the second is true, I am not clear its the most productive way to staff such a large profession. It may be that the initial ‘benefit’ is counter productive long term. I expect there is more to it than these two items.

          I recently found out in our district’s contract that voluntary transfer between schools in the district is not subject to seniority rules, rather is more a ‘traditional’ hiring process (interview with the principal, chosen from usually a large number of candidates, etc). In some sense, this flies in the face of the claim that seniority is what causes more experienced teachers to concentrate in higher-achieving schools. Of course, it could also be evidence that better candidates are those with the most experience. :-)

          Anyway, its clear that voluntary transfers are a way that many (all?) difficult-to-teach openings are created. Perhaps we could tie these transfers to a requirement that the transferring teacher mentor the person who will replace them for one or two years first? Or look at chronic voluntary transfers away from the same setting as an indication that something systemic needs to be addressed there. Perhaps even adjusting class size down in response?

          But to answer your question, I think there are two distinct things we need to decide:
          - is pedagogy the difference in eventual quality, or is it something else? (or is pedagogy at different times the difference)
          - how to get more people to get teaching experience before they are left alone in front of a classroom

          Our schools are woefully under-staffed at all levels. Perhaps the thing to do is assign a beginning teacher to a school as a kind of roving teacher and/or assistant. this could mean helping in the classroom, even filling in for parts of days (or full days if teachers are absent). they could help manage kids outside of the classroom but on campus, perhaps tutoring but also general things like at lunch, recess, after school, etc. teachers could really use that help, as could campus aides. they could help create lesson plans, and do some of the grunt work that teachers otherwise have to do. This would be a pretty good introduction into the discipline game (many students have less restraint when they are outside of the classroom) but it could also get them classroom experience. it would not be as trial by fire, but they would still be on campus and could participate in teacher meetings etc. I do think there would be negatives to this kind of thing, specifically how these people would be ‘used’. anyway, just thinking out loud..

          1. navigio says:

            btw, let me apologize for appearing to imply that ‘thinking out loud’ is a valid way to develop education policy. I am embarrassed that it came across that way and deserve to be chastised for that. I am trying to understand some of the dynamics that Paul has alluded to.

            I also noticed after writing this (and clearing my brain with a shower) that I have fallen into the ‘incentive game’ for improving education. In reality, we know that we are failing to provide resources to schools. We know we are failing to have administration who can effectively do their jobs (for whatever reason). We know so many ways to improve things but are unwilling to do so because they are ‘too expensive’. So we are ‘reduced’ to trying to find ‘false solutions’ in things like efficiency and incentive and market system tactics.


            this doesnt mean these thought processes arent important, but we should not forget what we already know.

          2. el says:

            I think it would be wonderful if a teacher’s first assignment could be as an assistant as you describe – an aide, roving substitute, and/or pull-out supervision. We typically don’t do these things because there isn’t funding for them.

      2. Paul says:

        Navigio, I’m glad you recognize the potential downside to assigning newcomers as “roving teachers” or “assistants” responsible for “helping in the classroom, … filling in for parts of days (or full days if teachers are absent)…tutoring but also general things like at lunch, recess, after school, etc.” El, I hope you’ll also see the pitfalls.

        First, most of the “grunt work” described is the responsibility of classified rather than certificated staff. Even the newest teacher is overqualified for photocopying, lunch supervision, or ad-hoc individual tutoring. I don’t see how practicing those tasks would increase a person’s competence as a classroom teacher.

        Second, taking over a class on moment’s notice is not a sustained, structured, or highly responsible role. Roving (multiple classes within the same day or period) and day-to-day (new classroom each day) substitutes don’t participate in curriculum mapping, lesson planning, student assessment, or parent communication, precisely the tasks we’d want new teachers to practice. Although substitutes do build a repertoire of classroom management techniques, even there the character is different, because there is no opportunity, or responsibility, for follow-up.

        Third, how would we compensate our new teachers? The $37K full-time certificated starting salary still found in some districts ($29K in certain districts that maintain a separate scale for interns) is a poverty-level wage in California. Since you’d have new teachers doing the work of substitutes and aides, we’d have to pay them even less. Day-to-day substitutes typically earn $100/day (with no benefits other than STRS), and classified aides generally earn minimum wage (although with PERS and health benefits). Would these wages attract quality candidates?

        Fourth, it’s much easier to qualify as a classified aide or a subsititute teacher than as a certificated teacher. To the extent that those roles provide useful preparation, prospective teachers should, can, and do serve as aides and substitutes before entering credential programs. There is a formal CTC pathway, PPTP, through which aides can enter, and receive subsidies for, teacher credential programs — often internships. In a similar vein, a record of substitute service — particularly in long-term assignments (the default permit, requiring a bachelor’s degree and the basic knowledge test/CBEST, allows 30 school days of service in the same teacher’s classroom) — is exactly what I’d expect if I were hiring an intern. Again, I’d expect it before, not during or after, the much more substantial teacher credential program.

        This is not at all to knock brainstorming/thinking off the cuff.

        1. navigio says:

          Hi Paul, not sure how to respond to that, so let me be a bit rambunctious.

          Interesting, you completely ignored the first part of my comment. Do you still think its simply a selectivity process at hiring that creates ‘better’ interns than traditionally credentialed teachers (what you seem to have been saying). Do you have evidence for that? Do you think its something else? I am a bit surprised at how strongly you feel about this. That seems to imply that you really understand the cause.

          Anyway, regarding the things you did respond to.. These tasks are not the responsibility of classified staff, certificated teachers do them now! (I wish we had enough classified staff to do them) You’d still be better off (economically speaking) paying someone an entry-level teacher’s wage to do those things (absurdly enough). But of course that is not all I was talking about in terms of experience.
          I also disagree that these people could not “participate in curriculum mapping, lesson planning, student assessment, or parent communication” (you even point out later that they actually do). Why could they not? What is the point of an actual ‘mentor’ anyway? Are you saying its better just to throw them in the classroom because they will simply have to learn or fail? Odd.
          It also does not have to be a fully random roving process or a blind, moment’s notice thing.
          Furthermore, our staffing levels in public schools is nothing short of a joke. Most of our serious discipline problems (ie egregious acts against other students) happen outside of the classroom because we have a single campus aide trying to watch 250 or more kids at a time. The idea that there is nothing to learn from that atmosphere as well I think is mistaken (funny, in our school we even have minimum wage campus aides doing minor tutoring during those times). Note that at lower grades, certificated teachers are usually who watches over recess, with other aides at lunch. Are they too expensive to be doing that too?
          But you’re right anyway. Its too expensive. That is why we’ll never do it. And its why we’ll continue to reduce the requirements we want to have prior to putting someone in front of a classroom.

          1. Paul says:

            Hello, Navigio.

            I feel bad that you thought I’d ignored the major part of your message. On the contrary, the limits of time and space (my posts already seem too long) made me focus on the part that produced the strongest reaction in me.

            I know that you are writing sincerely, so your suggestion for assigning new teachers didn’t bother me. I’d be worried, though, if the suggestion had come from someone who was not sincerely invested in the success of new teachers.

            That said, new teachers need focused practice in the skills that make people good teachers. Interacting with one student at a time, as in tutoring, is something that lots of adults can do. That skill doesn’t help teachers take the pulse of, and then teach, a group of 30. While a substitute could certainly tag along for lesson planning conversations, etc., switching from one classroom to another each day would not give the teacher a chance to plan, apply, and assess. Yes, teachers in many districts make their own copies and supervise at recess, but those are poor uses of specialized labor (administrative credentialholders would not last a second if called to manage private companies). Smart districts and administrators place a value on teachers’ time and either hire classified staff for these tasks or accept that teachers will accomplish less overall if they have substantial ancillary duties. My last district actually has a photocopying center, which collects and distributes jobs so that teachers need only stand in front of the copier in an emergency. Whoever handles these tasks, copying and monitoring the lunch room don’t make teachers better teachers.

            Mentorship is extremely valuable, and this is why CTC program standards require both the university and the employing school district to assign support providers to interns. The employer-assigned support provider must be experienced, be employed on-site, and have a credential in the same field as the intern. The new requirements for teaching English Learners add additional support. Finally, interns enroll in several university courses each semester, as they work to complete the 31 units required for any preliminary credential. Faculty members for those courses lead candidates in lesson planning, assessment, teaching English Learners, and teaching students with disabilities. Whereas these academic experiences are largely abstract for traditional candidates — who may or may not be student-teaching contemporaneously, and even if they are, may not have the authority to apply the knowledge, because the cooperating teacher calls the shots — interns apply the knowledge and seek support from faculty in real-time.

            That the requirement to have a job offer before applying for an internship credential attracts strong candidates is a purely factual question. If you, as the principal or district human resources representative, do not believe that a candidate is qualified to run a classroom, you don’t hire him, and he doesn’t get to teach, because he’s ineligible for an internship credential. Incidentally, every single 2-year internship credential issued bears an “employment restriction”. The holder is authorized to teach only in the district or charter school that hired him. The credential is valid only for an ongoing 50% to 100%-time assignment in the named subject area; an intern is not even legally allowed (unless he also holds a separate substitute permit) to fill in for a colleague during a one-hour prep. period!

            It is a myth that interns are dropped into classrooms without test results, training, support, or university and employer consent.

            The main text on this page confirms the requirements for imterns. Specific information can be found in Coded Correspondence, Program Standards, and Leaflet documents, elsewhere on the site.


  2. Andrew says:

    It is not surprising to see the paid spokesperson for a consortium of alternative credentialing entities promoting what she is paid to promote.

    A good traditional teaching credential program is much like medical school in that four years of undergraduate work is followed by extensive classroom time and this is followed by clinical training by experts. In such a program, the credential candidate is not only taught teaching methodology, but also given rigorous subject matter education. My wife, for example, an English major, received such rigorous math instruction in her multiple subject credential program that she scored in the top 10% of college grads in math when tested using a national test of college grads. An teaching credential internship program simply cannot supply this rigorous subject matter training. There is not enough time in a day or a year, when teaching full time and doing it right to also learn the subject matter and methodology. An internship cannot produce more than a “teaching credential-lite”.

    Internships can help flood the job market with unneeded and underqualified candidates whose existence helps California and its districts take advantage of the oversupply by treating teachers like dirt, paying them poorly, and laying them off at every excuse as we have seen recently. There are still many, many unemployed and underemployed but properly credentialed teachers in California, most of whom went through rigorous conventional programs. The need for alternative pathways, if it ever existed, is long gone. Those who aspire to teach and teach well should be fully and properly trained, just as physicians are full and properly trained by classroom and subject matter instruction, and then clinical experience under supervision.

  3. Eric Premack says:


    There are those among us who would question whether the current system is at all successful. The system is stunningly complex and correspondingly costly–especially if one includes the time/tuition prospective teachers spend on programs that many say helped them little when they got into the classroom.

    Perhaps it’s time to allow schools and districts to make decisions regarding staff qualifications rather than continuing the trend toward micro-management at the state and now federal level. If not for all teachers, perhaps at least allow schools and districts to hire up to 25 percent of their teaching staff based on locally-determined needs and qualifications.

    1. Paul says:

      This is a fascinating policy alternative.

      I know it’s been tried in other states. It would be interesting to see whether the student demographics (unusually heterogeneous in CA), the content standards (relatively high in CA), and the system funding levels (unusually low in CA) were comparable.

      Interestingly, California law gives charter schools the right to hire non-credentialed teachers, but only for non-core, non-college-preparatory classes.

      In practice, charters and school districts do use small numbers of non-credentialed teachers. Low-performing district schools are subject to certificated assignment monitoring by the County Office of Education, but county offices are far removed from the front lines and I have seen teacher “misassginments” concealed. High-performing district schools, and all charters, are exempt from routine assignment monitoring. In any case, I believe that the monitoring requirement has been temporarily suspended, due state budget cutbacks. Some teacher “misassignments” yield disastrous results, but others, like the ones documented at the American Indian Model (AIM) charter schools, have produced outstanding results.

      Private school teachers need not be credentialed, but many private schools use possession of a California teaching credential as a selection tool. Private school student demographics (more homogeneous) and content standards (much higher in some respects, but lower in others) are obviously not comparable.

  4. Richard ONeill says:

    I agree with the market-oriented approach to creating a competent corps of teachers( let a thousand flowers bloom in the search for equitable outcomes) but I depart when the ” looming teacher shortage ” is evoked. This demographic threat never quite seems to materialize, especially here in a state that people seem to prefer(in general) to a North Dakota winter. Also, boomers are healthier than traditional actuarial tables indicate and seem to want to keep working(in general). Technology anchored in the private sector will eventually solve the ‘shortage’ problem.

    1. el says:

      I agree it’s hard to take seriously articles talking about a “looming teacher shortage” while districts are still issuing pink slips. The reality is that whatever new teachers we’re developing have to be matched exactly to when the demand will be there – if you’re thinking there will be a demand in 10 years but are training teachers now, it’s a waste of everyone’s time and resources when the newly trained teachers can’t get hired. The teachers that we lost in the last few years due to budget cuts may never come back to the profession.

      This is really important – because it creates real hardship in people’s lives when you train them for jobs that don’t exist.

      1. Paul says:

        el, I am inclined to agree about the teacher oversupply, but I spoke with Corinne and she’s concerned about program infrastructure and institutional memory. If we dismantle more internship programs, we will (a) lose a source of non-traditional entrants to the profession and (b) not have the program infrastructure or institutional knowledge necessary ramp up internships when the next teacher shortage does occur. As happens often in California, we will end reinventing the wheel.

        There are some very high-quality internship programs, in which universities, school districts and interns work closely together and hold each other accountable. I’m learning that much of this depends on close working relationships built up over time, between the Teacher Corps, the universities, and the employing districts.

        1. el says:

          Institutional memory is critically important and often overlooked, but what is their plan for the new teachers they’re teaching? It’s not okay to waste the time or wreck the careers of your trainees in order to keep your organization alive.

  5. Corinne says:

    Oops… should have been “forced to pay” or “faced with”… ;)

  6. Corinne says:

    Thank you, Paul! I enjoy your feedback and articulate comments on the subject of preparing the best teachers for California’s kids! Now, with legislators in conversation about eliminating guaranteed funding for intern programs, almost 3,000 aspiring teachers will be faced to pay increased tuition costs. We need these talented people teaching our kids. Take a step today to talk with your legislators about the importance of maintaining separate funding, outside of local control, to support alternative certification teachers. Thanks again!

  7. Paul says:

    Corinne, I really appreciate this article. My personal belief in the internship pathway notwithstanding, I love well-researched articles with links to recent data. The 2012 study about teacher retirement is especially useful, as most teacher workforce information predates the 2008 recession.

    To strengthen the internship pathway, we need to change the impression — and perhaps, even the law — that interns are teachers of last resort.

    Employers and universities need to step up and make sure that interns receive tenable teaching assignments and proper support.

    The Commission on Teacher Credentialing needs to clarify the status of advanced (second- and third-year, and SB 57 Early Completion) interns, many of whom would benefit from starting BTSA immediatel. The law allows access but denies funding, because a teacher cannot be in two funded programs at once. Now that the two categorical funding streams in question are going away, that restriction is moot.

    Finally, it would be instructive to compare first-year preliminary credential-holders who had completed a traditional teacher preparation program with those who had completed an internship program. Alternative certification opponents start the comparison at the wrong moment. (At that, opponents still manage to miss the fact that before receiving an internship credential and first setting foot in a classroom, interns, including TFA members, must have the sanction of a university and an employer — credential program admission plus a job offer; demonstrate basic skills competency — CBEST; demonstrate subject matter competency — CSET; and complete 120 clock hours of training. Some opponents also neglect to mention that interns must, over the course of their internships, complete the same 31 units of coursework as traditionally-prepared teachers, and pass the same summative Teaching Performance Assessment.)

    If we compare first-year preliminary credential-holders, former interns have had more, and more-responsible, classroom experience. A traditionally prepared teacher has never before served as teacher of record. The Commission on Teacher Credentialing does not specify or enforce a minimum length or level of responsibility for student teaching placements. In some university programs, student teaching lasts only weeks, and in some classrooms, the student teacher merely makes photocopies and observes the cooperating teacher. A former intern, on the other hand, has served as teacher of record for one, two or three years. This person is guaranteed to have had full, individual, and long-term responsibility for a classroom. What better preparation is there?

    1. navigio says:

      Paul, the comparison should not be between a teacher who is in front of a class for the first time and one who has been there one two or three years. It is clear such experience would be valuable regardless of what the prior preparation was.

      Also, an interesting post on the impact of trying to do both at the same time:


      1. Paul says:

        Navigio, I think you misunderstood. You’re asking for comparisons between a traditionally-prepared preliminary credential-holder and an internship credential-holder. Those comparisons have a place, yes. And lots has already been published on the topic.

        There is a paradox in teaching: research shows that a significant part of a teacher’s learning occurs on the job, but we’re reluctant to put novices at the front of a classroom. Novices are given real responsibilities in life-critical fields like medicine. (Reverting for a moment to anecdotes, I’ve had two major medical emergencies in my life. In both cases, medical residents, acting without direct supervision in those moments, made the difference in my care. In one case, four long-standing doctors failed to diagnose a medical issue because they thought in terms of demographic patterns and risk factors, where the unbiased resident was willing to go back to first principles and conduct tests. In the other case, a resident did a meticulous surgery job, and then carefully documented his work. Only in teaching are we so suspicious of contributions by newcomers.)

        I want to inquire into longer-term performance. I am suggesting that we try a new, apples-to-apples comparison. I’m not aware of any studies that begin at the point of program completion and follow alternatively certified California teachers (former interns) along with traditionally prepared California teachers (former student teachers). Both classes have completed the same tests, courses, and summative assessment, but only the former interns have had full responsibility for a classroom. My hypothesis is that this degree of preparation produces more effective teachers.

        1. navigio says:

          Hi Paul. My claim is that that is not an apples to apples comparison. A human who has been in a classroom necessarily has a different level of experience than one that has not, irrespective of their other preparation. A more accurate comparison of credentialed teachers would be between an ‘intern’ who has been in front of a classroom for, say, 3 years and a traditionally certified teacher who has also been in front of a classroom for 3 years.
          However, I think a more important comparison would be between an intern in their very first year (ie no classroom experience at all yet) and a traditionally certified teacher who is in their very first year. My impression is that one of the major concerns with level of experience is the impact that ‘trial by fire’ is having on the kids. This for me is a much more interesting and poignant question, especially given that completing an intern program while also teaching might actually force more people out of the profession than the traditional method (ergo my earlier link). Its possible that there is even a causal relationship there, but it may not be because of the actual program in question, rather because the necessary rigor of doing both ‘jobs’ leaves only the most dedicated (or most insane). If that is true, I would posit that our ‘solution’ should be to increase rigor only in a way that does not also harm students. I dont feel the its obvious that the current ‘alternative’ does that. And regardless of what I think–people shouldn’t care about that–there are many for whom that is the requisite concern.

          Being a novice sooner does not lessen the impact of being a novice. :-)

          1. Paul says:

            Hello again, Navigio.

            I understand what you are saying and feel that the main comparison you’re asking for has already been done. There is ample research about the performance of TFA members (interns, in California). The CTC also publishes a tabulation of its annual survey of principals. I won’t divert the discussion by saying how principals rate their interns, in comparison to the other first-year teachers that they supervise. Suffice it to say that no organization has documented systemic damage to students.

            I share your concern about easing candidates into the profession, and appreciate that you’ve raised this issue, because it is so rarely aired. The fact is that seniority wins, and new teachers, whether they serve under internship credentials or preliminary credentials, get the toughest assignments, in the toughest schools, in the toughest districts. This should of course be changed, but it has nothing to do with credential pathways and everything to do with choices made by district and school leaders — not to mention senior teachers, who sometimes cherry-pick grade levels, courses, and even specific students.

            The comparison that I’m asking for is new: start with teachers in the first year of validity of a preliminary credential, and compare the performance of those who earned it through the internship pathway and those who earned it through the traditional pathway. (Background for readers: a preliminary credential is a “full” credential, indicating completion of a teacher preparation program and valid for the first five years of a teacher’s career. It can be earned through a traditional program with student teaching and coursework, or through an internship program, in which the teacher works as teacher of record while completing the coursework. “Preliminary” refers to the fact that any teacher must take further steps to make the credential renewable or “clear”.)

            Mine is indeed an apples-to-apples comparison, because Teacher A who earned her preliminary credential through the internship pathway and teacher B who earned his through the traditional pathway now hold exactly the same credential. (Teacher B had no credential before, and Teacher A’s was an internship credential, which other people want to argue is significantly different from a preliminary credential. I avoid that diversion by starting the clock after Teacher A and Teacher B have completely finished their respective credential programs.)

            When you mention “intern” and “third year” together, I think that there’s a possible bias or misunderstanding. Once a candidate completes an internship program, he stops being labeled as an intern. He sets his internship credential aside and teaches under the same preliminary credential as his traditionally-prepared counterpart. Many interns finish in one year. Intern credentials last only two years. A third-year extension is granted only rarely by the CTC.

            To sum up, I feel that how teachers perform during an internship (your concern) has been studied. How they perform afterward, that is, whether experience as teacher of record confers an advantage over experience as a student teacher, has not been studied. If we studied it, we might have to revisit thorny policy questions, such as:

            1. Why California does not prescribe a minimum number of hours of student teaching, for traditionally-prepared teachers;

            2. Whether cooperating teachers can, and whether they do, provide uniformly rigorous student teaching experiences;

            3. Whether student teaching is an authentic preparation experience; and

            4. Whether shortcomings in service to English Learners are due to the design of internship programs or to the design of all preliminary credential programs, both internship and traditional.

          2. el says:

            Paul wrote:
            “The fact is that seniority wins, and new teachers, whether they serve under internship credentials or preliminary credentials, get the toughest assignments, in the toughest schools, in the toughest districts. “

            This is a big city/big district phenomenon, very likely, but smaller districts hire first time teachers too, and in those perhaps there is not so much movement or disparity among assignments.