Research and Evaluation
Developing Alternatively Certified Teachers for Prince George’s County Public Schools – A Report on Teacher Preparation in Five Programs 


Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) has become increasingly dependent on alternative teacher certification programs in recent years. This report provides an overview of the types of teachers these programs are attracting, what roles alternatively certified teachers (ACTs) are playing in the district, and how these teachers are trained. Data collection and analysis were conducted between June and August 2008 by a team of doctoral students from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Quantitative data were compiled from district and ACT program records, a prior evaluation of one program, and a survey of current participants. Qualitative data included interviews, focus groups, and observations across the four ACT programs currently operating within the County. Overall, we found that the ACT programs in PGCPS were preparing teachers in alignment with the framework of the Committee on Teacher Education convened by the National Academy of Education. Training sessions covered all of the critical areas of teacher knowledge and skills necessary to lay a solid foundation for career-long development.  Within the content provided during instructional sessions, critical strategies – such as those for working with diverse leaders, adapting content standards to students’ needs, employing the principles of backwards design, and developing questions and lessons around Bloom’s Taxonomy of educational objectives – were prominently featured and revisited. Most ACTs rated their model teachers favorably, and many ACTs from the 2007-2008 cohort reported positive mentoring experiences. Qualitative data revealed some areas that require attention in order to strengthen the training provided to future teachers. For example, some ACTs seemed to struggle with implementing instruction on learning theory and child development in the training. In addition, in some critical areas, practices varied across programs. Suggestions for improving the ACT programs include more structured formative feedback to ACTs during proactive teaching, more focused recruitment of model teachers and mentors, greater utilization of videos for analyzing teaching practice, and structured training for mentors.



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