Pennsylvania Alternative Certification Programs

Alternative certification routes have existed in Pennsylvania for many years, but they are not highly utilized.

According to a 2010 article by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette education reporter Eleanor Chute, the vast majority of public school teachers in the state are certified through traditional teacher preparation programs at colleges and universities. And the number of teachers trained by those programs each year far exceeds the annual number of new hires by state school districts.

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It's also worth noting that the Pennsylvania State Education Association has gone on record to encourage lawmakers and policymakers to "resist fast track programs such as Teach for America, the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, and other programs that fail to ensure full participation of teacher candidates." In a policy statement, the PSEA states that Pennsylvania needs "to ensure that all new teachers are prepared in high-quality, university-based comprehensive teacher preparation programs..."

Despite the long odds, individuals can find alternative routes into Pennsylvania's classrooms, particularly in high demand content areas such as math and science. In 2002, the Pennsylvania Department of Education approved certification through the American Board for Certification of Teaching Excellence.

Candidates who acquire ABCTE's Passport to Teaching credential may apply for a Pennsylvania temporary teaching certificate in the area of elementary, secondary, English, mathematics, general science, physics, chemistry, or biology. The temporary certificate allows the candidate to teach in the state's public schools while completing a prescribed course of study through Point Park University. Chute reported that, as of 2010, 72 teachers had been approved for certification through ABCTE.

The Pennsylvania Teacher Intern Certification Program is another alternative route into the classroom that is available through 37 approved colleges and universities in the state. Founded in 1969 for graduate students only, the program was made available at the post baccalaureate level in 1983.

Schools in Pennsylvania:

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