Schools need to look for alternative ways to get teachers into the classroom instead of discouraging them, say researchers critical of calls to end so-called emergency certification.
Any kind of certification--standard, emergency or alternative--is better than no certification at all, the Thomas Fordham Foundation, a privately run school reform research organization, concluded in a collection of reports earlier this month.
"Education is the last remaining field in America where people think you can boost quality by tightening the rules and multiplying the regulations," said Chester E. Finn Jr., foundation president and a former Reagan administration official in the Department of Education.
The studies show that students whose teachers possess a bachelor's or master's degree in math outperform other students in math, regardless of the teacher's certification. Finn said that and other findings contradict President Clinton's proposal, outlined in his State of the Union Address this year, to make states and school districts phase out emergency-certified teachers.
The reports say that teachers have weak verbal and math skills and that not nearly enough have a college major or minor in the subjects they teach. But even some standard state credentials fall short of putting better teachers in the classroom, they say. In California, Ohio, New York and Minnesota, approved preparation programs tend to have very low entry requirements, no exit requirements and low subject content, the researchers said.