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Journal Issue: Excellence in the Classroom Volume 17 Number 1 Spring 2007

The Effect of Certification and Preparation on Teacher Quality
Donald Boyd Daniel Goldhaber Hamilton Lankford James Wyckoff

Summary

To improve the quality of the teacher workforce, some states have tightened teacher preparation and certification requirements while others have eased requirements and introduced “alternative” ways of being certified to attract more people to teaching. Donald Boyd, Daniel Goldhaber, Hamilton Lankford, and James Wyckoff evaluate these seemingly contradictory strategies by examining how preparation and certification requirements affect student achivement.

If strong requirements improve student outcomes and deter relatively few potential teachers, the authors say, then they may well be good policy. But if they have little effect on student achievement, if they seriously deter potential teachers, or if schools are able to identify applicants who will produce good student outcomes, then easing requirements becomes a more attractive policy.

In reviewing research on these issues, the authors find that evidence is often insufficient to draw conclusions. They do find that highly selective alternative route programs can produce effective teachers who perform about the same as teachers from traditional routes after two years on the job. And they find that teachers who score well on certification exams can improve student outcomes somewhat. Limited evidence suggests that certification requirements can diminish the pool of applicants, but there is no evidence on how they affect student outcomes.