Remember ABCTE? Perhaps you should

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A little over a year ago, we reported on a paper showing teachers trained in a Florida college or university were no more effective than other teachers in that state who hadn't gone through formal training.

Now, Tim Sass, sifting through the same gold mine of Florida data, has unearthed even worse news for champions of traditional teacher prep. Teachers entering the profession via the fastest track of all, the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), swamp their fellow new teachers, at least when it comes to teaching math.

The difference in effectiveness between new ABCTE teachers and their traditionally trained counterparts is so pronounced, it's even bigger (50 percent greater, in fact) than the substantial increase in effectiveness typically seen between rookie and second-year teachers.

That's big news for the once highly controversial pathway into the profession, so threatening that the suggestion of its adoption in any state was met with throngs of pickets and overwrought speeches delivered on the floors of state legislatures. Bring up ABCTE now and most people aren't even aware it still exists.

But people looking for proof that alternate routes are on the whole better than traditional teacher prep will be disappointed. Sass compares three major alternate routes into the teaching profession in Florida: district-run preparation programs (by far the largest), programs run by community colleges and ABCTE. District-run preparation program grads are a tad less effective than grads from traditional programs. Community college program grads are significantly less effective. Only the ABCTE teachers, notable for their SAT scores which are higher than those of any teachers in the other groups, outperformed the grads from Florida's schools of education.