Next in line would be reforming alternative teaching certification. Florida did this in 2002, later than the reforms mentioned above, meaning it may have contributed less to Florida’s success. Nevertheless, alternative certification does have a broad impact on a school system, especially when the program is as extensive as Florida’s, with more than a third of new certificates coming from alternative routes in 2009.[59]

Moreover, research has found benefits to this type of reform.[60] Tim Sass of Georgia State University found evidence that Florida’s alternatively certified teachers have stronger academic qualifications than traditionally trained ones, and that alternatively certified teachers perform as well as — and in some cases, better than — traditionally certified teachers.[61]

Michigan has few genuine alternative routes to teacher certification. Of the 45,600 teachers certified by the state from 2001 to 2006, only 282 received certification through alternative means — less than 1 percent.[62] Not surprisingly, the nonprofit National Council on Teacher Quality gave Michigan’s “expanding the teaching pool” policies an F in 2009.[63] Florida received a B-minus for its policy concerning the teacher labor pool, and it received a C — the highest overall grade of all the states — for teacher quality policies.[64]

Michigan did pass legislation in late 2009 to expand alternative routes to certification.[65] Aspiring teachers were permitted to teach under a temporary “interim” teaching license.[66] While it’s too early to know whether this reform will create a more vibrant teacher labor market, there’s little reason to believe it will. Even under the reform, knowledgeable and talented aspiring teachers still must invest a significant amount of time, money and energy in obtaining the necessary requirements to obtain state-approved certification.[*]

Michigan should reform its teacher certification system to remove unnecessary obstacles to entering the teaching profession. Specifically, Michigan should give local schools, held accountable by parents, more flexibility over the people they hire. Since educational research consistently demonstrates the importance of teacher quality,[67] this is an important reform.


[*] MCL § 380.1531i. A teacher must have at least a bachelor’s degree with a cumulative college GPA of 3.0, participate in a state-approved “alternative teaching program” that provides certain pedagogical training, receive “intensive observation and coaching” while in the classroom, and meet any other additional requirements according to administrative rules set by the Michigan Department of Education. Ryan McCarl, “Michigan’s meaningless teacher certification reform,” Michigan Education Report (2010) http://goo.gl/qarhl (accessed Oct. 19, 2011).


[59] “Alternative Teacher Certification,” (Florida House of Representatives, 2010), 406, http://goo.gl/doVHp (accessed March 21, 2013).

[60] Holley, “A Teacher Quality Primer: For Michigan School Officials, State Policymakers, Media and Residents,” (Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 2008), 32-39, 98-103, http://goo.gl/SZYV1 (accessed March 20, 2013); Tim Sass, “Certification Requirements and Teacher Quality: A Comparison of Alternative Routes to Teaching,” (Georgia State University, 2011), http://goo.gl/3qPBY (accessed May 31, 2013).

[61] Sass, “Certification Requirements and Teacher Quality: A Comparison of Alternative Routes to Teaching,” (Georgia State University, 2011), http://goo.gl/3qPBY (accessed May 31, 2013).

[62] “The Secretary’s Seventh Annual Report On Teacher Quality,” (U.S. Department of Education, 2010), 11-13, http://goo.gl/XZXFv (accessed May 31, 2013). 63 “2009 State Teacher Policy Yearbook: National Summary,” (National Council for Teacher Quality, 2009), 11, http://goo.gl/ndFPp (accessed May 31, 2013).

[64] Ibid.

[65] Public Act 202 of 2009, House Bill 5596, http://goo.gl/b1DMv (accessed May 9, 2013).

[66] MCL § 380.1531i.

[67] Holley, “A Teacher Quality Primer: For Michigan School Officials, State Policymakers, Media and Residents,” (Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 2008), 19, http://goo.gl/SZYV1 (accessed March 20, 2013).