Minorities need not apply?

Patrick Gibbons

One major public education myth is that teacher certifications requirements help improve the quality of teachers. However, research by the Brookings Institution has shown that there is virtually no difference between the effectiveness of a certified teacher and an uncertified teacher.

This means that teacher certification requirements reduce the supply of effective teachers available for Nevada to hire.

Source: Brookings Institution, “Identifying Effective Teachers Using Performance on the Job

Nevada, like many states, has strong certification requirements and no real path toward alternative certification. This means that Nevada’s efforts to reduce class size have only had the result of increasing the likelihood that Nevada’s students are exposed to ineffective teachers.

Beyond harming students, teacher certification requirements also harm minorities who aspire to become teachers.

Research by Paul Peterson of the Hoover Institution found that states with real alternative teacher certification programs not only saw significant gains in student achievement but that the percentage of minority teachers increased as well. States with real, not symbolic, teacher certification pathways see a teacher population that is more reflective of state demographics.


Florida created real alternative pathways for becoming a teacher, and today about half of all new teachers in Florida are alternatively certified. The proportion of minority teachers has also increased to a level that more closely resembles the makeup of the state population.


In Nevada, however, minorities make up 41 percent of the population but less than 9 percent of our teachers. Given that 91 percent of teachers in Nevada are white, the state’s Department of Education might as well hang a sign on the door that says “minorities need not apply.”




Source: U.S. Department of Education and Hoover Institution

Nevada's legislature can remedy the situation, improving instructional quality and student achievement while also raising the number of minority teachers.

All lawmakers need to do is eliminate the state's restrictive and useless teacher certification requirements.