The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide streamlined preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers.
Although Colorado offers alternate routes with streamlined preparation, it could do more to meet the immediate needs of new teachers.
Colorado offers two alternate routes, a one-year program and a two-year program. Both alternate routes require that candidates complete 225 clock hours of instruction in teacher preparation courses that meet state performance-based standards and include training in dropout prevention. Specific details of the coursework are not outlined. A program advisory council may exempt candidates from some coursework requirements based on an applicant's previous experience or demonstrated knowledge.
Although Colorado does not require a practice-teaching opportunity or specialized mentorship for candidates in the one-year program, all new teachers in the state are assigned a mentor as part of a required induction program. The two-year program pairs each candidate with a mentor teacher for the first year; during the second year participants are considered the teacher of record.
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Colorado should articulate guidelines regarding the specific nature 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.
Provide induction experience for all new teachers.
While Colorado is commended for requiring teachers in the two-year program to work with a mentor, candidates in the one-year program should also receive this support. In addition, the state should consider providing sufficient guidelines to ensure that the induction program is structured for new teacher success. Effective strategies include practice teaching prior to teaching in the classroom, 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.
Colorado was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. Colorado added that alternative licensure programs must ensure that candidates meet the same professional development standards as institutions of higher education.