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The Value of a University ACP (Alternate Certification Program)

With the Economic Policy Institute reporting unprecedented teacher shortages across the U.S., now is the perfect time for those with non-teaching degrees to think about switching careers. You don't have to obtain another bachelor's degree in education in order to become a teacher, however. Alternative certification programs (ACPs) offer a nontraditional route to certification for second-career teachers.

Choosing the right ACP can be challenging. ACPs abound throughout the country, particularly in Texas, where both universities and for-profit entities offer certification programs. Given the variety of ACPs out there, how do you choose the one that is right for you? A university-based program, such as the Alternative Teacher Certification Program online from Texas A&M International University, can guarantee you receive quality training from a well-established program that offers the experience, credibility and support needed to land a great teaching job.

Join an Established Program That Grows With the Community

ACPs with for-profit businesses and organizations are popping up every day, and the options can seem overwhelming. However, most of these programs are still fairly new, and they often originate from businesses based nowhere near your teaching community.

According to a 2014 report by the National Association for Alternative Certification, well-established university programs "improve themselves over time and grow more productive, collaborative relationships with the school districts they serve." Not only are well-established credentialing organizations more likely to evolve with up-to-date research and best practices, but they also tend to be more in tune with the needs in your community.

Obtain Credibility That Gets You Hired

Since university ACPs stem from traditional 4-year certification programs and have pre-established standards for admission and graduation, they offer quality control that for-profit ACPs cannot. In addition, university programs are taught by well-respected faculty who are leaders in their field and stay abreast of recent practices and issues that might impact students.

The Center for American Progress reports a common wariness of ACPs from for-profit companies. "There is no formal observation or supervised teaching experience necessary before students can enter the classroom and teach on their own as they finish completing program requirements," says the Center for American Progress of the alternative certification program offered by the for-profit Texas Teachers of Tomorrow. However, those who receive a university ACP can count on their certification coming from programs that employers respect and accept.

Gain Experience and Confidence

It is worth looking for an ACP that requires clinical teaching experience. More classroom experience empowers new teachers to do well in their first teaching job and stay on.

TAMIU's ACP offers teachers classroom experience via a six-month clinical teaching experience. You also receive mentorship and support to ensure you are getting the most out of your experience during this time.

Get the Support You Need

The shift into teaching does not have to feel isolating; TAMIU offers a network of support, so you never feel alone as you build your confidence and experience. In addition, mentoring is available throughout the program to help future teachers become even more confident in their abilities. Upon completion of TAMIU's ACP, graduates can remain a part of the alumni network and the connections it affords.

This support from field experts may be at least part of the reason why TAMIU's ACP online program has a 98% pass rate, exceeding the state average. For-profit companies cannot match the levels of faculty investment in students and subsequent success that a university like TAMIU offers.

When considering where to obtain an ACP, it's important to consider how to conveniently gain certification that will get you a job and help you excel in the work. A university ACP like TAMIU's can offer you the credibility, experience and backing you need to make a move into a rewarding teaching career.

Learn more about Texas A&M International University's Alternative Teacher Certification online program.


Sources:

Center for American Progress: An Overview of the Teacher Alternative Certification Sector Outside of Higher Education

Economic Policy Institute: U.S. Schools Struggle to Hire and Retain Teachers

NAAC: Non-Traditional Teacher and Candidate Retention: Measures of Educator Preparation, Certification and School Staffing Effectiveness Linked to Student Achievement

Texas Education Agency: Becoming a Certified Texas Educator Through an Alternative Certification Program


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