Alternative Teacher-Certification Programs Will Offer Their Own Master's Degrees in New York

April 20, 2010

Organizations like Teach for America that provide teaching credentials through nontraditional paths will soon be able to create and offer their own master's degree programs in New York, a move that has raised concerns among some administrators at the state's colleges of education.

The New York State Board of Regents voted on Tuesday to approve a proposal that would let alternative teacher-certification programs, which provide quick routes into teaching for students who did not major in education, create their own master's programs. Degrees in those programs would be awarded by the regents. In the proposed regulations, the regents said they hoped the program would go into effect as early as the 2010-11 academic year.

Alternative-certification programs have experienced a boom in popularity and publicity in recent years. The Obama administration has sought to encourage such programs through U.S. Education Department policies, including proposed changes in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which under George W. Bush was renamed No Child Left Behind The new version of the act would have schools of education and alternative teacher-certification programs compete for federal money.

The alternative programs remain controversial among many people in higher education. Some education deans and others doubt that the nontraditional approach, which focuses more on practical application than pedagogy, is as effective as pursuing a traditional teaching degree.