I was attracted to the article in the April 2004 issue entitled, “Teachers leery of online certification program.” However, I was not impressed by that title.

That is to say, there seems no proof in the article that it is prospective teachers who reject the Passport to Teaching (PT) certification procedure. If a given state department of education will not honor the PT proceeding, future teachers would be foolhardy to pursue it.

As well, the article’s statement that teachers ordinarily “spend an average of five years of study and classroom training with mentors” appears misleading. The PT approach requires that teachers it enrolls must attain a bachelor’s degree in an academic subject matter from an accredited university. It is true, of course, that these future teachers are not offered student teaching experiences by PT.

On the other hand, however, PT requires that teachers-to-be pass rigorous examinations on the subject matter of pedagogy. In today’s university teacher education programs, such exacting knowledge is not required. As many relevant surveys reveal, almost all future teachers in university education classes receive an “A” for their efforts. Also, it is common for in-service teachers to negatively criticize these university-based courses as having little utility.

Hence, it might be possible that requiring future teachers to pass demanding written tests on pedagogy would compensate for the lack of student teaching that PT entails. At least this seems a worthwhile empirical question to try to unravel.

–Patrick Groff, Professor of Education Emeritus, San Diego State University

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