Innovative Teacher Credentialing Programs Address Need for Effective Teachers

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New Study from the Clayton Christensen Institute Offers Lessons from Cutting-Edge Teacher Education Models

The demand for quality teachers is growing, and reformers across the country are working to improve the teaching force as a key way to impact student outcomes. In a new study on teacher education, the Clayton Christensen Institute profiles credentialing programs and graduate schools of education that have emerged from the charter school landscape. The study aims to provide insight into how schools can pioneer similar programs and navigate state policy and accreditation requirements on the path to developing new institutions for teacher education.

“Many teacher education programs that rely on traditional methods are not making the grade,” said author Thomas Arnett, a research fellow for the Institute. “These organizations have created their own customized credentialing programs and graduate schools of education in order to develop innovative models that train teachers more effectively through a common emphasis on creating strong connections between formal teacher education and the application of that education in K-12 classroom settings.”

“Startup Teacher Education: A Fresh Take on Teacher Credentialing” profiles three institutions that went through their states’ approval processes in order to offer new approaches for training teachers, granting credentials, and awarding master’s degrees: High Tech High Graduate School of Education in San Diego, the Relay Graduate School of Education in New York, and Match Education’s Sposato Graduate School of Education in Boston. Though there are clear benefits to the schools’ teacher-training programs, the study found state policies often hinder their creation and implementation. The most common obstacle is navigating various state authorization requirements, which can affect the length of time and amount of effort required for approval and execution.

“There’s a clear need for policies that embrace new ways of producing high-quality teachers,” said Arnett. “If these programs continue to show strong results, it may be a sign that training in the education field – like many other industries – is shifting from a purely academic path to one that aligns more tightly with employers’ needs.”

Leaders from each school offered recommendations to those considering similar programs, including:

  •     Build relationships with existing players in the teacher education sector
  •     Find energetic staff willing to challenge convention
  •     Develop a clear understanding of the unmet needs that your new programs will address
  •     Understand who your customers are and develop a sustainable revenue model
  •     Think about the process in stages

The full study can be found on the Christensen Institute website at Follow the conversation on Twitter at #teachercredentialing.

The Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation ( is a research organization dedicated to improving the world through disruptive innovation. Founded on the theories of Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen, the Institute offers a unique framework for addressing many of society’s most pressing issues.

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Hayden Hill
The Clayton Christensen Institute
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