Definition of terms
a) Teacher empowerment: - this is endowing teachers with the right to take part in the finding of school aims and guidelines and allowing practice of professional assessment.
b) Highly qualified teacher: - this term is used to refer to a teacher who holds a bachelor’s degree on the lower and appropriately licensed and show content knowledge.
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c) Professional practice boards: These are panels that consider matter of strategic importance as related to the policy development and address emerging issues and its effect in professional practice.
d) Dual-track system of schools: - This is a school system that combines both apprenticeships in a firm and vocational founded education in a school setting into a unified vocational program.
e) Liberation pedagogy:- This is a term developed by Freire’s and centered in altering the society and making people work well by highlighting injustice to eradicate fear.
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Teacher certification can be defined as teaching credentials that are earned from an authoritative source such as; higher education institution, government or a private source.
Teacher certification has been a hot debate in United States for quite a long time. The authors of the article “Who Applies and What Factors are Associated with Success?” explains the quality concerns over American teachers. The quality of teachers as well as their ability to shape the performance of their students has been major concerns in America. Quality concerns lead to the efforts by different stakeholders to maintain high quality among teachers which is a major contributing factor to the student performance in school. The authors of this article confirm that it was search for quality among teachers that teacher certification bodies were created (Goldhaber et al, 2003). One of the well known teacher certification body in United States is National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) that was created in 1987(Goldhaber et al, 2003). Since its origination, several policymakers and teachers have placed the NBPTS certification process as a significant mechanism for bettering the quality of the teaching workforce.
In areas experiencing acute shortage of certified teachers the only alternative to this problem is employment of uncertified or provisional teachers. As the saying goes half a loaf is better than none. However, several studies have shown that uncertified or provisional teachers perform less than certified teachers. Stronge agrees with Danning Hammond that fully prepared and certified teachers have greater impact on gains pertaining to student learning than uncertified or provisionally certified teachers (Stronge, 2007). Danning Hammond asserts that there is no single study that shows provisionally certified or uncertified teachers performing better than certified teachers.
Provisionally certified and uncertified teachers assist a lot in certain circumstances such as acute shortage of teachers or in the case of a certified teacher going on maternity leaves. In view of this I believe that they should be allowed to assume full-time classroom duties. Since their quality is wanting, I would propose that they be given adequate own on-the-job development and in-service training perhaps during holidays to improve their quality. They should also be allowed to participate in decisions regarding the content of their on-the-job development and in-service training (Ingersoll, 2007).
In an interview with an educational administrator where I asked his opinion on the issue of provisionally certified and uncertified teachers assuming full-time classroom duties, he seemed to share the same sentiments. Mr Doe said “it is becoming difficult to get teachers to teach in some areas of this state of Mississippi and this is why we are experiencing shortage of highly qualified teachers” (K. Doe, personal communication, December 19, 2010). Due to this problem he fully supported the idea of allowing non-certified teachers to take full charge of some classroom situations. However he was of the opinion that they should at least have a pure degree in: Science, English, History and Math. Those who have pure degrees in these areas should not be denied certification or an opportunity to teach simply because they did not get the extra 12-15 hours of educational classes. He also believed that evaluation of classroom instruction of the teachers should be left entirely into the hands of individual schools and school districts.
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