Alternate Routes Policy
The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide efficient preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers, as well as intensive induction support. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.
Alaska does not offer any alternate routes to certification.
Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, Teacher Certification Types: https://education.alaska.gov/TeacherCertification/Certification.html
Establish an alternate route to licensure.
Alaska should establish an alternate route to licensure that is distinct from the traditional certification process. This route should be flexible regarding the needs of nontraditional candidates in order to broaden and deepen the available pool of teachers. Such alternate route programs should also have established coursework guidelines that are manageable given the time constraints of a novice teacher and contribute to the immediate needs of new teachers. In addition, these programs should be required to provide strong induction programs and opportunities for candidates to practice teach prior to their placement in the classroom.
Alaska was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.
Alaska noted that a one-year Initial Proof of Program Enrollment teacher certification is offered to individuals enrolled in a traditional teacher preparation program who have already completed a bachelor's degree, passed approved Basic Competency and Content Area exams, and have at least five years of experience in the subject they will be teaching. Individuals enrolled in a Special Education teacher preparation program are not eligible for this certification. This certification is not an alternate route, but it does allow subject-matter experts to begin teaching while they pursue the traditional route. Individuals who take advantage of this route must enroll in an approved teacher preparation program and complete the program within two years.
5B: Preparation for the Classroom
Alternate route programs must provide practical, meaningful preparation that is sensitive to a new teacher's workload and stress level. Too many states have policies requiring alternate route programs to "backload" large amounts of traditional education coursework, thereby preventing the emergence of real alternatives to traditional preparation. This issue is especially important given the large proportion of alternate route teachers who complete this coursework while teaching. Alternate route teachers often have to deal with the stresses of beginning to teach while also completing required coursework in the evenings and on weekends. States need to be careful to require participants only to meet standards or complete coursework that is practical and immediately helpful to a new teacher. That is, while advanced pedagogy coursework may be meaningful for veteran teachers, alternate route coursework should build on more fundamental teaching competencies such as classroom management techniques, reading instruction, or curriculum delivery.
Most new teachers—regardless of their preparation—find themselves overwhelmed by taking on their own classrooms. This is especially true for alternate route teachers, who may have had considerably less classroom exposure or pedagogy training than traditionally prepared teachers. States must ensure that alternate route programs do not leave new teachers to "sink or swim" on their own when they begin teaching. It is critical that all alternate route programs provide at least a brief student teaching or other supervised practice experience for candidates before they enter the classroom, as well as ongoing induction support during those first critical months as a new teacher.