Transition to Teaching: Dishing the Dough without the Data
With much pride, the U.S. Department of Education has announced another year of funding for its Transition to Teaching (TTT) initiative. This year the Department is dishing out $22.1 million for 41 grants, mostly to education schools happy to sign up for the duty of preparing career changers for the teaching profession.
TTT's two-fold charter fits neatly under NCLB: 1) Recruit and retain highly qualified career changers (including paraprofessionals) and recent college graduates to teach in high-need schools in high-need districts; and 2) Develop and expand alternate routes to certification.
But is there any evidence that the program is working? Limited data largely reinforce our skepticism over the wisdom of the feds sticking their noses into the teacher recruitment business. While the intent of TTT is to supply qualified teachers to high-need districts, a quarter of the teachers in the program don't end up teaching in one. And though the program purports to provide fast-track alternate routes for career changers into the classroom, at last measure, not even half of the teachers in the program had qualified for a license after three years. This low rate suggests that the ed schools delivering these so-called alternate route require so many courses that program participants can't complete the program in a reasonable time frame.
There's also nothing to suggest that anything is going on with the programs but business as usual, with the same unacceptable teacher attrition rate that districts report without the programs. One out of four teachers in a TTT program quit after just two years.
Over five years, the feds have invested nearly $250 million in TTT teachers.