Reasons to Teach: Prospective Teachers, Low Performing Schools, and Alternative Preparation
Morettini, Brie Walsh
Valli, Linda R
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As the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 and high-stakes accountability have come to define the work of teachers, one wonders if teaching is becoming more or less attractive. Teaching in today's classrooms is arguably very different from teaching in classrooms from previous decades and generations. Moreover, the creation and proliferation of alternate routes to teaching has expanded the opportunities for more people to become teachers - late entrants, career changers, etc. The emergence of alternative pathways to certification and the policy-driven changes from the NCLB Act such as the system of sanctions and rewards linked to student performance prompt an updated investigation on the extent to which prospective teachers' reasons to teach have or have not changed from prior eras as documented by previous scholarship completed before the enactment of NCLB. This study contributes to the literature on reasons to enter teaching and the persistence of those reasons for career changers in an alternative teacher preparation program called the Alternative Certification for Science and Mathematics (ACSM) Program, which is a partnership between Colton County Public Schools and a nearby university. Data for this study were gathered over the span of participants' entire first year in the classroom through interviews, questionnaires, and application materials. Consistent with some previous studies, the study found that participants in ACSM express model influences, experiential influences, programmatic influences, race- and gender-related reasons, and vocational reasons to teach. In addition, data revealed that reasons to teach did not change in significant ways from what participants initially expressed. However, some changes were evident in the data. For example, vocational reasons to teach for participants become much more specific over time, and by the end of their experiences teaching, participants cite the importance of relations with students rather than instruction of students. Also, while some participants in the study initially cite race as a reason to teach, by the end of their first year teaching, more participants express the influence that race had on their experiences with students in the classroom.