Kenneth Zeichner is Boeing Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Washington in Seattle. He recently reviewed five alternate routes into teaching. Here is a question-and-answer session with him about his study.

The study is here.

He said:

My examination of the research on the five programs (The Relay Graduate School of Education, Match Teacher Residency, High Tech High’s Internship, iTeach and TEACH-NOW) concludes that there is no credible evidence that supports the claims of success that are made about them, and that the continued expansion of these programs is driven by ideology rather than by empirical evidence of success.

He added:

First of all, in the U.S. we have very serious problems of an inequitable distribution of teachers and inequitable access to a high-quality education, which enables students to interact with knowledge in authentic and meaningful ways. Students living in communities highly impacted by poverty are disproportionately taught by uncertified teachers, inexperienced teachers and by teachers teaching outside of their field. Most of the teachers who graduate from independent programs teach students who live in communities that are highly impacted by poverty.

I found that two of the five programs that I studied (Relay Graduate School of Education and Match Teacher Residency) contribute to the inequitable distribution of professionally prepared teachers and to the stratification of schools according to the social class and racial composition of the student body. These two programs prepare teachers to use highly controlling pedagogical and classroom management techniques, “a pedagogy of poverty,” that are primarily used in schools serving students of color whose communities are severely impacted by poverty. Meanwhile, students in more economically advantaged areas have greater access to professionally trained and experienced teachers, less punitive and controlling management practices, and to broader and richer curriculum and teaching practices. The teaching, curriculum and management practices learned by the teachers in these two independent programs are based on a restricted definition of teaching and learning and would not be acceptable in more economically advantaged communities.

In a sense, the expansion of independent teacher education programs like Relay and Match is furthering the building of a second-class system of education for children living in poverty while middle class children continue to be taught by professionally prepared teachers and have more access to a genuine education that aims for much more than just raising standardized test scores.