Los Angeles Unified School District Intern Program
For at least 20 years, traditional approaches to teacher recruitment have not provided sufficient numbers of teachers to meet the needs of urban areas or of high-demand subject areas such as mathematics, science, bilingual education, and special education. Supporters of alternative routes to teacher certification argue that these programs are an effective way to recruit academically competent individuals to teach in hard-to-staff schools and to allow school districts to replace the emergency credential system with a rigorous program of field-based professional training. Critics of alternative certification argue that such programs are "quick fix" solutions to teacher shortages, an approach which recruits substandard teachers, provides inadequate professional education, and results in a decline in the quality of instruction in the public schools.
There is currently little information available on the outcomes of such alternative approaches to teacher recruitment and training. This paper uses a case study of one program, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Intern Program, to investigate the use of an alternative route to teacher certification to meet the teacher recruitment and training needs of a large urban multicultural school district. It addresses four main questions: (1) How effective is an alternative route to teacher certification in recruiting academically qualified individuals to teach in urban schools? (2) Does the population of teacher candidates recruited into the alternative route program differ from the traditional college-based teacher education population? (3) What kind of professional education is provided by an alternative route to teacher certification? (4) How do teachers in the alternative route program compare to university-educated teachers?
The research also found that the intern program provides comprehensive, on-the-job professional training which is context specific. In other words, the alternative route program focuses on preparing teachers to work in the Los Angeles public schools and to teach according to the practices and procedures advanced by that district. The study cautions that California's alternative route program is not a replacement for college-based teacher education. Rather, it is a context-specific recruitment policy for the Los Angeles Unified School District.