The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide efficient preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers through targeted and manageable coursework, as well as supervised practice teaching opportunities and intensive induction support that includes mentorship. This goal has been revised since 2017.
Alabama has three alternate routes to certification: the Provisional Certificate in a Teaching Field (PCTF) for K-12, 6-12, and 4-8 teaching fields; the Provisional Certificate in a Career and Technical Teaching Field (PCCT); and the Alternative Class A Master's Degree-Level program.
Practice Teaching: Alabama's Alternate Class A candidates are required to undergo extensive field experiences that occur in diverse settings, and the majority of this experience must be in a school setting, with at least half focused in the candidate's intended teaching field. Candidates must also complete a full-time internship, which are required to last at least a full semester. Internships may include more than one classroom or grade level, and the intern's responsibilities must eventually progress to the full responsibilities of the teacher, with the expectation that before a candidate completes the Alternate Class A program, he or she must have interned full time for at least five consecutive days.
PCTF and PCCT candidates are not required to complete a supervised practice teaching experience prior to becoming the teacher of record.
Induction Support: Candidates are assigned a mentor who holds a valid Alabama Professional Educator Certificate in the teaching field of the applicant or in a related field and has at least 3 full years of full-time professional educational work experience. Mentors have demonstrated effectiveness in the performance of their work, excellence in communicating and collaborating with colleagues. Mentors are "designated by the superintendent or administrator to provide guidance, support, and assistance in the development and improvement of the professional skills and understanding to a beginning teacher or instructional support person."
Manageable Coursework: Alabama's Alternative Class A program requires at least 30 semester hours of graduate credit and the curriculum must include at least one-third of the total number of graduate hours in a teaching field.
PCTF and PCCT candidates must complete no more than 12 semester hours of applicable coursework and are required to earn grades of "C" or above.
Targeted Coursework: All candidates must take a methods course specific to the teaching field or to the general area of the teaching field and a survey of a special education course. Those who completed a survey of a special education course prior to meeting the Alternative Class A admission requirements must take a course in one of the following: methods of accommodating instruction to meet the needs of students with exceptionalities in inclusive settings, multicultural education, teaching English language learners, rural education, or urban education. Further, candidates who select a teaching field in English language arts, general science, and general social studies programs must take at least one course in two areas within the broader field.
Both the PCTF and PCCT programs include the following coursework: "classroom management, the evaluation of teaching and learning, strategies for teaching special needs students in inclusive settings, methods of teaching in the teaching field and at the grade levels for which certification is sought."
Require practice teaching opportunities.
Alabama should require that all alternate routes establish practice teaching opportunities for novice teachers as part of their preparation prior to becoming teachers of record. This corresponds directly to the student teaching experience for traditionally prepared educators and better prepares candidates to be successful in the classroom.
Establish an induction experience for all new teachers.
Alabama should provide induction guidelines to ensure that all novice alternate route teachers will receive the support they need to facilitate their success in the classroom. Effective strategies include intensive mentoring with full classroom support in the first few weeks or months of school, a reduced teaching load, and release time to allow new teachers to observe experienced teachers.
Limit coursework for new teachers.
Alabama should ensure that all novice alternate route teachers have manageable coursework while teaching. Given the demands on a novice teacher's time, course requirements should not exceed three credit hours in the spring and fall and six credit hours in the summer.
This analysis was updated subsequent to the state's review.
Teachers who enter the profession through alternate routes report lower levels of self-efficacy compared to beginning teachers who enter through traditional teacher preparation programs. Alternate route teachers are likely to be especially concerned about their ability to effectively deliver instruction, manage the classroom, and plan lessons. Most new teachers—regardless of their preparation—find themselves overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the job. This is especially true for alternate route teachers, who may have had considerably less classroom exposure than traditionally prepared teachers. States must ensure that alternate routes do not leave new teachers to "sink or swim" on their own when they begin teaching.
It is critical that all alternate routes provide at least a brief student teaching or other supervised practice experience for candidates before they enter their own classrooms. Field work and exposure to real classrooms offers a scaffolded opportunity for prospective new teachers to gain practical experience. Across areas of instruction, student teachers feel significantly better prepared after completing student teaching. Access to highly-effective rated cooperating teachers in student teaching experiences results in pronounced positive outcomes for students of aspiring teachers.
Additionally, all new teachers need comprehensive and ongoing professional development even after they become "teachers of record." Effective induction programs go beyond the basics of new teacher orientation and may include comprehensive supports, such as mentorship, common planning time with other teachers, reduced teaching course loads, and assistance from a classroom aide. Access to a mentor teacher with subject-area expertise and dedicated common collaboration time with other teachers of the same subject area are cited as the two most effective factors in reducing first-year turnover and improving job satisfaction and commitment. Robust and consistent mentorship not only helps new teachers feel supported, but also improves retention and student outcomes. Importantly, students' academic performance increases when they're taught by teachers who are highly engaged in induction programs with mentorship, as compared to students of teachers who are not engaged in such programs. Induction programs should require new teachers, especially those who enter the profession through alternate routes with limited preparation, to collaborate with experienced and effective mentors who can guide them through what can often be a challenging transition into a new career.
Alternate routes must provide practical and meaningful coursework that is sensitive to a new teacher's workload and stress level. State policies that require alternate route programs to "backload" large amounts of traditional education coursework prevent the emergence of real alternatives to traditional preparation. This issue is especially important given the large proportion of alternate route teachers who complete required coursework in the evenings and on weekends while also teaching. 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 professional competencies such as classroom management techniques, instructional methods, or curriculum delivery. Alternate route participants' primary concern as novice teachers is managing the classroom, which should be a focus in required coursework. Furthermore, the curriculum for teacher training programs must be aligned to what beginner teachers experience in the classroom. Clear connections between theory and best teaching practices enable coursework to be directly translated into the classroom.
 Forsbach-Rothman, T., Margolin, M., & Bloom, D. (2007). Student Teachers and Alternate Route Teachers' Sense of Efficacy and Views of Teacher Preparation. Journal of the National Association for Alternative Certification,2(1), 29-41. Retrieved from http://jnaac.com/index.php/JNAAC/article/view/45/33
 Greenberg, J., Walsh, K., & McKee, A. (2014). Teacher Prep Review: A review of the nation's teacher preparation programs.Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Teacher_Prep_Review_2014_Report
 Darling-Hammond, L. (2014). Strengthening Clinical Preparation: The Holy Grail of Teacher Education. Peabody Journal of Education,89(4), 547-561. doi:https://doi-org.proxy.library.georgetown.edu/10.1080/0161956X.2014.939009
 Goldhaber, D., Krieg, J., & Theobald, R. (2019). Leveraging the student-teaching experience to train tomorrow's great teachers. Brown Center Chalkboard. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2019/05/20/leveraging-the-student-teaching-experience-to-train-tomorrows-great-teachers/.
 For a further review of the research on new teacher induction, see: Rogers, M., Lopez, A., Lash, A., Schaffner, M., Shields, P., & Wagner, M. (2004). Review of research on the impact of beginning teacher induction on teacher quality and retention. Retrieved from http://www.newteacher.com/pdf/ResearchontheImpactofInduction.pdf
 Wong, H. K. (2004). Induction Programs That Keep New Teachers Teaching and Improving. NASSP Bulletin, 88(638), 41-58. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f71d/e558a5e10724e31ba26d477057ef0272110b.pdf
 Ingersoll, R. M. (2012, May 16). Beginning Teacher Induction: What the Data Tell us. Education Week. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/05/16/kappan_ingersoll.h31.html
 Brody, S. (2017, November). A bright spot for PD—new teacher induction that works [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.nctq.org/blog/A-bright-spot-for-PDnew-teacher-induction-that-works
 There is no shortage of research that indicates the students of new teachers who receive strong mentorship have higher scores than those of new teachers with minimal to no or weak mentorship. See: Best Practices in Teacher and Administrator Induction Programs. (2016). California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. Retrieved from http://ccsesa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Best-Practices-in-Teacher-and-Administrator-Induction-Programs.pdf
 Constantine, J., Player, D., Silva, T., Hallgren, K., Grider, M., & Deke, J. (2009). An evaluation of teachers trained through different routes to certification. Final Report. NCEE 2009-4043. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED504313.pdf
 Walsh, K., & Jacobs, S. (2007). Alternative certification isn't alternative. Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED498382.pdf
 O'Connora, E. A., Malow, M. S., & Bisland, B. M. (2011). Mentorship and instruction received during training: Views of alternatively certified teachers. Educational Review,63(2), 219-232. doi:10.1080/00131911.2010.537312