In an ideal world, every classroom would be led by a top-notch teacher. But with school districts across the country struggling with minority teacher recruitment and teacher searches, many are now turning to alternative certification routes.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards recently released numbers showing that since its certification program was launched in 2000, nearly 68,000 individuals have enrolled and completed it. But district leaders may not realize that when they’re looking for a shortcut to recruiting new teachers, they’re not really saving money. The math doesn’t work out.
In fact, the opportunity cost of forgoing a more rigorous process of searching far and wide for top talent may end up costing school districts thousands of dollars wasted on inferior results in candidates who do not have the right skills to succeed as classroom leaders. A growing body of research points to the importance of good teachers in improving student performance. But many districts are failing to think critically about what it takes, and how much it costs, to find them.
The standard hiring process is based on three factors: applicants’ resumes, their interviews and review of their transcripts. This process has some strengths, such as providing a way to eliminate candidates for being unqualified or unsuitable. But when school districts are rushing to get teachers in the classroom quickly, this hiring process inevitably leaves good applicants on the table.
For example, a recent study found that teachers with master’s degrees have a positive impact on student achievement and retention. Indeed, universities’ graduate programs have become highly selective in their admissions. And the same type of skills that make an applicant a good candidate for a university’s teacher education program — strong academic preparation, perseverance, and commitment to teaching — can be found during the job search via techniques such as recruiters’ screening calls before candidates even apply.