Teacher preparation reform: A comparison of traditional and alternative teacher certification programs as perceived by program graduates

Date of Completion

January 1991


Education, Teacher Training




This study examined the effectiveness of traditional and alternative teacher preparation programs in Connecticut as perceived by program graduates. Traditional teacher preparation programs shared the following common elements: they were four year undergraduate degree programs that recruited primarily from the pool of recent high school graduates, and included some form of extended student teaching. The Alternate Route program was a brief, but intense teacher certification program recruiting exclusively from college graduates, many with well established careers in other fields, and included no structured student teaching experience.^ Through examination a more thorough understanding is gained of what seems right or wrong with teacher preparation, and of the complexities and subtleties contained within. This understanding would help ease the tension among teacher preparation reform leaders and encourage progress in setting new program standards and in refining the education of teachers.^ The sample for this study was comprised of first and second year teachers, ten from traditional programs and ten from the Alternate Route program. Effort was made for the samples to reflect diversity in gender, economic settings, urban and suburban schools, and age. The data collection for this research was qualitative in nature. It consisted of semi-structured interviews using the original research instruments: Preliminary Survey and Questionnaire for Traditional/Alternate Route Teachers. The seven areas of investigation included program content, program structure, recruitment and selection, faculty of the preparation program, instructional approaches, professional development, and prior experience of the respondent. Data was analyzed and coded according to the qualitative standards as suggested by Bogdan & Biklen (1982) and Miles & Huberman (1984).^ Findings of this study suggest that the academic ratings as measured by SAT scores do not differ significantly between the traditional and Alternate Route samples. The student teaching experience, or the lack of it, was an influential factor in the graduates' perceptions of program effectiveness. This study contains insights and implications for educational reform leaders in the areas of teacher preparation program development and design, program effectiveness, and curriculum development.^ Recommendations for future studies include using these instruments with larger samples, or replicating this study in other states that offer alternative teacher certification programs. ^