A master's of arts in teaching from Teach For America U?

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The New York State Board of Regents seems to have approved a proposal that allows alternative certification groups to train their own teachers--without such groups having to partner up with the local ed school. In fact, the new pathway actually leads to the conferral of a genuine master's degree (a must since New York is one of only five states that requires teachers to obtain master's degrees).

The rationale for the move was to find more program providers who want to emphasize practical teaching skills. It's likely that New York's new commissioner, David Steiner, a long-time critic of bad teacher preparation, had a hand in the change.

Reactions, however, from the biggest alternate route providers is pretty flat. In fact, Tim Daly, the President of The New Teacher Project (TNTP), which runs New York City Teaching Fellows, noted that the requirements for program approval actually don't deviate much from the traditional master's degree programs, requiring large amounts of coursework and stipulating that the instructors have to have Ph.D's. He called the new regulation "a step in the right direction in terms of making more things possible, but it's not really alternative."

Teach For America has said it's considering starting a program that satisfies the requirements of the route, but the Regents placed one stipulation on the new route that seems to be deal breaker: program approval is contingent on teacher candidates pledging four years to teach in high-needs schools. Since Teach For America has no intention of altering its two-year time commitment, we don't see how the shoe fits.