Friday, October 30, 2009

Alternative Teacher Certification is part of the solution

Secretary Arne Duncanhit the one-two punch of teacher preparation this week focusing in on how poorly are teachers are prepared in general and then how they need a greater emphasis on math and science if we are to succeed as a nation.

“By almost any standard, many if not most of the nation’s 1,450 schools, colleges, and departments of education are doing a mediocre job of preparing teachers for the realities of the 21st century classroom”

So very true.

Increased subject matter expertise, more diversity in experience and culture, greater emphasis on recruiting top performers and more field based training - all point to alternative teacher certification like ABCTE as a big part of that solution.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Teaching Job Dissatisfaction

A lot of press about teacher satisfaction based upon the Public Agenda teaching job satisfaction survey that said the 40% of teachers are disgruntled. Yet another on many piercing alarms about the sorry state of our education system. That means there are 1.3 million disgruntled people in the United States which means the 22 million students are adversely affected by a teacher who is not happy in their job.

Wow. Can’t understand why we have an education problem in this country.

Only 23% describe themselves as idealist saying that good teachers can lead all students to learn and 37% say they are content – which at first I took to mean complacently average but it turns out they actually enjoy their jobs.

The number of teachers is staggering and the problems are real. We need better principals, we need better working conditions in our schools and we need to redesign the job to leverage the content and the ideal so that we can help the disgruntled move on to other professions. Sounds like a job for a union.

But their too busy fighting charter schools, vouchers, alternative teacher certification, fighting for smaller class sizes so that we can hire more teachers who are not right for the profession and delving into social issues.

Ask any business leader if they can run a great business where people are the product when 40% of them don’t like their chosen profession and you will get a resounding no.

One more data point – one more disaster for students.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Teacher Preparation

I spent a little of last week meeting in Utah on their performance based teacher certification program - the ARL. They are really pleased with the people that become teachers through that program. There are no seat time requirements or minimum hours required. You demonstrate you have the knowledge, through a program like ABCTE, and you can become a teacher. Meanwhile, down in Louisiana, they created an alternative program that requires enough university based credits to be one couse shy of a Master's.

Swift and Able has a great blogpost summarizing the recent arguments on teacher preparation and letting us know that ed schools have not changed in a hundred years.

Even with pressure coming from Secretary Arne Duncan, I don't think they will change now unless they get enough competition from groups like ABCTE, that they realize they have no choice.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Charter School Teachers and Virtual

NACSA held a pretty good conference here in Utah this week. A lot of talk about holding charter schools accountable including how to replicated great charter schools and close the weak. Virtual charters were a large part of the discussion since charter authorizers have to figure out ways to ensure that they can manage the growth in online learning.

That lead to some revelations on the insanity that in US charter laws. The first that obviously affects ABCTE teachers is that in some states there are requirements that all virtual teachers be state certified – sometimes at a higher percentage than in brick and mortar schools. The second is that seat time takes precedence over subject matter mastery for students.

Both are ridiculous. Online learning is supposed to fully leverage great talent regardless of geographic location. If a great physics teacher in Pennsylvania is available to inspire future scientists in Utah – they shouldn’t have to jump through hoops in all 50 states to become a teacher.

The real beauty of online learning is truly differentiated instruction. But in our system, if the student masters algebra in 3 months, they don’t get credit unless they sit in front an algebra course for 180 days.

Our laws need to help technology work to increase learning – not hold it back so that the adults can feel better.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Great Math Teachers

Edtrust always cuts right to the bone when it comes to education problems in this country and for that they should be commended. They take the data and provide no-nonsense analysis and solutions.

If the NAEP scores in math are stagnant, especially for those in high poverty schools, and teaching has the number one impact on student achievement, then we need more great math teachers. Instead we continue to use unqualified math teachers in the schools that need them the most.

The money quote:“In this year’s assessment, eighth-graders assigned to teachers who majored in mathematics in college scored ten points higher than those whose teachers did not major or minor in the subject—the equivalent of one year’s worth of learning.”

So if we can get teachers who know math into classrooms, we can truly advance. Instead we continue to force 40% of our high poverty students to get their math instruction from someone who doesn’t actually know math.

ABCTE has 1,179 math and science experts working through our program and 551 already teaching in 9 states. Imagine what we could do if more states accepted our teachers.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Eduwonk, Flypaper and NACSA

Both Flypaper and Eduwonk pick up the New York Times story on alternative teaching. Been a great week for ABCTE even while I am down with the flu (not the H1N1 variety).

I am heading to NACSA in Salt Lake City next week to talk charter schools - we will be presenting at the conference on teacher certification. 15% of ABCTE teachers teach in charter schools and we are looking to help out even more. In a few weeks we will launch to help out even more with charter school teacher job postings, teacher resume posting, professional development and mentoring for teachers. Pretty exciting stuff!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ABCTE Teachers in the New York Times!

How about this! ABCTE teachers featured in a New York Times article about skilled professionals becoming teachers. Features two of our best - Ron Halverson a former Hewlett-Packard engineer from Idaho teaching special ed and Bill Deloach from Missouri teaching Physics!

Help spread the word - ABCTE Teachers in the New York Times - we have arrived.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Governor Jeb Bush: see you there?

I am speaking at the Excellence in Education conference this week and hope to meet you there! If you have not signed up - don't miss it. A lot of great stuff and great networking.

Excellence in Action 2009
Winning the International Education Arms Race

Last Chance to Join Jeb Bush at Excellence in Action

Join hundreds of passionate advocates and policy experts in Washington, D.C. this week on Thursday, October 8, and Friday, October 9, to discuss strategies to transform education in your state and across America. Here is what awaits you at our second annual summit on education reform:

Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida, shares the stunning turnaround of education in Florida.

Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia – the first woman in history to hold that position – shares the vision for excellence in education Down Under.

Peje Emilsson, education innovator and entrepreneur from Sweden, tells the revolutionary approach of “the Knowledge School” (Kunskapssklan).

James Tooley, world-renowned scholar, offers insights into his groundbreaking research on private education for the poor in India, China and Africa.

Mary Matalin and James Carville share their experiences in the world of policy and politics, as well as their outlook on the future of education in America.

Other Featured Speakers:

Jeanne Allen, Byron Auguste, Tony Bennett, Michelle D. Bernard, Mitchell Chester, Clayton Christensen, John Chubb, Jon Cohen, Bill Coley, Robert Enlow, Chester E. Finn, Jr., Aimee Rogstad Guidera, Jonathan Hage, Ric Hanushek, Rick Hess, Lance Izumi, Tim Keller, Joel Klein, Matt Ladner, John Legg, Patricia Levesque, Tom Luce, Neal McCluskey, Steve Moore, Vicki Murray, Eric Osberg, Paul Pastorek, Dana Perino, Gary Phillips, Michelle Rhee, Gerard Robinson, Chip Rogers, Ariela Rozman, Dave Saba, Adam Schaeffer, Susan Schaeffler, Eric Smith, Kate Walsh, Will Weatherford, Gene Wilhoit, Joe Williams

A full agenda for Excellence in Action 2009 can be found online at


To learn more about Excellence in Action and receive details on travel and accommodations, please visit

• Summit Registration - $399
• Summit Registration, Government rate - $199
• Single day registration for Thursday, October 8, 2009 - $209
• Single day registration for Friday, October 9, 2009 - $229

Online registration is currently closed, but interested individuals can register onsite on Thursday, October 8, and Friday, October 9, at the Capital Hilton.

If you would like to register onsite, send the Foundation for Excellence in Education an email at:, with the subject “Onsite Registration” and include your contact information and number of guests attending.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Washington State: looking for teacher certification options

We’re seeing a lot of news and chatter coming out of Washington State that all points to the fact that they could really use ABCTE.

This summer, there was the teacher shortage related article in the Tacoma News Tribune, saying that public schools in the state were looking overseas to hire teachers and other staff. We responded with a letter to the editor, explaining that in a time of such high unemployment, school districts could give those jobs to talented experts if there were a more flexible way—like ABCTE—for them to get certified.

Next, we saw residents from Washington state cross over into Idaho for information sessions we held in Coeur d’Alene last month. These are people who want to teach in Idaho now using ABCTE certification and some of them are hoping Washington will eventually accept ABCTE certification in their public schools so that they can use it to teach in their own community, rather than in a neighboring state.

Finally, a writer in Seattle this week included ABCTE in a top ten list of ways to solve the education problem, saying that require candidates to pass our tests would be one way for districts to “stop hiring poorly-educated individuals for teaching positions.” Our tests are not easy—most candidates take 8 to 10 months to prepare and pass our rigorous exams, which cover not only the subject an individual wants to teach but professional teaching knowledge as well. This means that our candidates have proven that they not only know their subject but how to teach it as well, by mastering topics such as pedagogy, assessment and classroom management.

So Washington, what are you waiting for?

School administrators, please let education leaders know that you want ABCTE’s help in filling positions in math, science and other subjects, with experts. We have people with a PhD in physics [ABCTE teacher video] or a degree in chemistry [ABCTE teacher video], for example, who are now teaching these subjects in other states. They are bringing their expertise and real world experience into the classroom—who wouldn’t want their students learning a subject from a talented, tested individual with a degree in that very subject?

Legislators, we’d like to talk with you about proposing a bill that would allow ABCTE certified teachers to teach in your state, so that they don’t have to leave the state or take thousands of dollars in college courses in order to have a classroom of their own. There are talented engineers in your state who are looking for work or who want to shift into a second career—they could be teaching math and science, helping the shape your state’s future.

Parents, students and other residents, please write to your state leaders and let them know that you want ABCTE.

If there’s anything we can do to help, please email us at