Alternative Teacher Certification and The New Professionalism: The Pre-service Preparation of Mathematics Teachers in the New York City Teaching Fellows Program
by Andrew Brantlinger & Beverly Smith — 2013
Background/Context: For more than a decade, large alternative teacher certification programs (ATCP) such as the New York City Teaching Fellows (NYCTF) have provided qualified applicants with fast-track or “early entry” routes to paid teaching. While early-entry ATCPs enjoy powerful support in the public and private sectors, critics (e.g., Zeichner, 2010) claim that early-entry ATCPs are aligned with a “new professionalism” which views teaching as a technical undertaking and teachers as easily replaceable implementers of others’ prescriptive ideas. Yet little is known about the knowledge, skills, and dispositions these programs seek to develop in teachers during pre-service preparation.
Purpose/Focus of Study: This study seeks to understand the nature of teacher preparation in early-entry ATCPs and how this reflects both the trends associated with the new professionalism and broader traditions of teacher education. The paper focuses on preparation of pre-service mathematics teachers who began the NYCTF program in the summer of 2007.
Research Design: Results for this paper are based on a mixed-methods analysis of curriculum and survey data. Curriculum data included course materials, journal entries and daily audio reflections, and exit interviews for nine mathematics teacher candidates who began NYCTF in the summer of 2007. The two authors coded this qualitative data with a high degree of inter-rater reliability. Survey data was collected from 90% of the approximately 300 mathematics candidates who began NYCTF in the summer of 2007. The analysis focused on responses to Likert-scale survey items that inquired about the focus of pre-service coursework. The Mann Whitney test was used to gauge the statistical significance of curricular differences reported by mathematics candidates in different sections of the NYCTF program.
Findings/Results: We find that only some of the major components of NYCTF summer preparation were well aligned with the expectations of the new professionalism. In particular, the curriculum delivered by NYCTF staff and staff at one of the four university coursework providers seemed to meet these expectations. Whereas, to varying degrees, the curriculum delivered by staff at the three other university partners did not. We also find that pre-service preparation was subject-general and featured little in the way of mathematics-specific teaching methods.
Conclusions/Recommendations: The results simultaneously support, extend, nuance, and challenge the hypothesis that such early-entry ATCPs such as NYCTF prepare program participants to meet the expectations of the new professionalism. The conclusion includes discussions of both the promise of early-entry ATCPs and how schools of education might respond to the rise of early-entry ATCPs and the trend of the new professionalism.
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