- An analysis of TNTP teachers, which offers an alternative credentialing pathway for teacher certification, had a similar performance to their more conventional peers in classrooms for their first two years, indicating alternatively credentialed teachers can help staff difficult-to-fill positions, according to a report by American Institutes for Research.
- The analysis included school districts in cities throughout the country, including Chicago and Washington, D.C. TNTP has trained more than 35,000 teachers and offers in-service training for its fellows throughout the entire first year of teaching in order to boost performance.
- TNTP was hopeful that their programs would positively impact the rates of teacher performance and student achievement. AIR did not find evidence of this, but did advise school districts with shortages to consider credible alternative credentialing programs like TNTP.
Alternative credentialing models in K-12 education have only intensified in the more than 25 years since Teach for America graduated its first collection of fellows, with one in five educators in American public schools coming from some kind of alternative credentialing program, according to an NPR article on Teach for America. However, critics have long decried such programs about the lack of diversity, among other concerns; many fellows begin their careers in underfunded schools located in low-income communities or communities of color, and there were continuous concerns that not enough fellows were coming from these communities.
Though the report analyzed the first two years in the fellows’ careers, it is uncertain if alternatively credentialed educators were at any disadvantage later in their careers as opposed to their more conventional peers. Many alternatively-credentialed educators are located in charter schools, and may be more susceptible to turnover and shorter tenures at their first schools. This could have an impact on their efficacy over time.
In higher education, alternative credentialing is more prominent (and controversial) for students, who may forego a traditional college degree for boot camps, single courses or certificates that may acknowledge mastery in a particular skill. Like alternative credentialing for K-12 educators, these alternatives to a college degree are satisfactory provided they are respected as credible in the eyes of employers. If a student or educator is tied to alternative credentialing program that is viewed as substandard, it would put them at a strong disadvantage compared to a conventionally credentialed peer.