“Why aren’t your teachers state certified?” We get this question from time to time. The confused or worried look on their face implies that the teachers at CLA must not “really” be teachers without this certification. Their concern is legitimate. If our teachers have not gone through the state certification process how are we supposed to know that they are qualified for the job? Why should you trust one of our teachers with 1,200 hours of class time with your child?

We have found that if you want a dynamic education that is full of vibrant instruction and motivated students then you must bring together a team of teachers that make this happen. To reach this goal a teacher must be an expert in their field. This requires a passion for their subject and a love for what they teach. We want teachers who live and breath their subject. Teachers whose hobbies tie into what they teach. Teachers who read and study their subject in their spare time because they find it fascinating and fun. When you step into the classroom of a teacher like this, you see the outcome. They have filled their minds and deepened their understanding which results in incredible clarity in their teaching. Give us a passionate expert and we can show them how to teach classically.

Ironically, the state teaching certification disqualifies experts from teaching in their field. This leads to situations where Dave Ramsey is not “qualified” to teach a personal finance class, Mike Pence is not allowed to teach government, and J.K. Rowling is prohibited from teaching creative writing. This simply does not make sense.

The question remains, does having teachers who are not state certified actually work? The answer is yes! CLA has reached a point of maturity where we are seeing the fruit of our labor. One indicator is our student’s ACT scores. There are no nice ways to put it; the state of Tennessee’s ACT scores are horrendous. The state average is a score of 19.8 which ranks 42nd in the nation. As the Tennessee Department of Education puts it, “… Only 27 percent of students met the college ready benchmark in math, 35 percent met the benchmark in reading, and 17 percent met the benchmark in all four subjects [math, reading, science and English].” Meanwhile, CLA students have an average ACT score of 27 and are flourishing in these major subjects.

There is nothing particularly special about our students; they are your average kids from a small town in Tennessee. So what accounts for such a disparity between the ACT scores of our students and those of the rest of Tennessee? I believe an enormous part has to do with the quality of our teachers and the dynamic methods they employ. With the help of state certified teachers; Tennessee ACT scores rank 42nd in the nation. Quite frankly, that is not good enough. We demand more.

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