Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide streamlined preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers.
Arizona does not ensure that its alternate route provides streamlined preparation that meets the immediate needs of new teachers.
Arizona provides no specific guidelines about the nature or quantity of coursework for its alternate route. There is no limit on the amount of coursework that can be required overall, nor on the amount of coursework a candidate can be required to take while also teaching.
Candidates receive support from a trained, building level mentor and are required to complete four semesters of student teaching. Mentors are provided in the specific grade/content area.
Upon successful completion of the program, usually two years, Arizona provides candidates with a full professional certificate.
Arizona State Board of Education R7-2-604.04
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Arizona should articulate guidelines regarding the nature and amount of coursework required of candidates. Requirements should be manageable and contribute to the immediate needs of new teachers. Appropriate coursework should include grade-level or subject-level seminars, methodology in the content area, classroom management, assessment and scientifically based early reading instruction. Simply mandating coursework without specifying the purpose can inadvertently send the wrong message to program providers—that "anything goes" as long as credits are granted. However constructive, any course that is not fundamentally practical and immediately necessary should be eliminated as a requirement.
Ensure that new teachers are not burdened by excessive requirements.
Alternate route programs should not be permitted to overburden the new teacher by requiring multiple courses to be taken simultaneously during the school year. Arizona should also ensure that the program can be completed within two years.
Clarify practice teaching requirements.
Ideally, alternate route candidates would have a practice-teaching opportunity before they begin teaching. However, intensive mentoring support can be a suitable alternative. In Arizona's case, though, it is unclear how an individual who is already the teacher of record can participate in four semesters of student teaching, making it questionable whether alternate route candidates receive the appropriate support.
Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers.
While Arizona is commended for requiring all new teachers to work with a mentor, there are insufficient guidelines indicating that the mentoring program is structured for new teacher success. 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 during each school day.
Arizona referenced sections of its state code that address the approval process for alternative preparation programs.