There is a thought provoking article over at Forbes that states that “Teacher Certification Makes Public School Education Worse, Not Better” –  basically asking – Do we need teacher certification? The answer is yes, BUT.

There are a lot of people asking this lately and some state leaders are pushing to eliminate certification while others are pushing to make it harder to become a teacher.  Those who work hard to make sure every class has a great teacher are caught in the middle.

The author is right to point out that alternative certification does attract more diverse candidates into teaching and that there are studies that show that teachers from alternative certification perform as well as teachers from other routes when it comes to student achievement.  But it is a pretty big leap from different routes creating teachers of equal quality to eliminating certification altogether.

Texas recently implemented much tougher restrictions on teacher certification programs while Arizona loosened theirs. Utah let districts decide who to hire and control certification but after just nine months is working to tighten those rules again – but still make it better for potential teachers.  Louisiana drastically changed their teacher certification requirements to make it much tougher on teachers. And Florida is all over the map.

But there is no data to make any of these changes. We are relying on “best practice”.  What we will see is decreased diversity and greater teacher shortages in states that rely on best practice to make it much tougher for potential teachers.  We will have much tougher rules using “best practice” and more long term subs teaching students.

So on paper you tougher rules but in reality you have less qualified teachers – is that really a win?