Alternate Routes Policy
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.
Connecticut offers four alternate certification routes: the Connecticut Office of Higher Education (OHE) Alternate Route to Certification (ARC), the Charter Oak State College Early Childhood Alternate Route to Certification, Teach For America, and Relay Connecticut.
Practice Teaching: All clinical placements & student teaching placements have the same requirements and expectations as traditionally trained teacher candidates. Connecticut's ARC candidates must complete a six-week student practicum, which is aimed at providing candidates with an opportunity, under supervision, "to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to become effective teachers." The Charter Oak State College program does not specify supervised practice teaching requirements. TFA candidates must complete a practice teaching opportunity. The Relay program requires candidates to complete a year-long, full-time practice teaching residency where they gain gradual responsibility of the classroom while serving alongside a lead classroom teacher.
Induction Support: Connecticut does not set induction support requirements at the state level, but all candidates are required to receive a TEAM-trained mentor from their district after being hired under an initial certificate.
ARC candidates must complete a six-week practicum through which candidates are placed with a team of professionals who are expected to provide a practical introduction to teaching. This team of professionals includes a trained cooperating teacher and an evaluator from the ARC program who will evaluate a candidate's performance. The ARC program also provides voluntary instructional coaching to assist recent program graduates.
The Charter Oak State College program incorporates supervised field experiences throughout the entire program, including a four-week internship.
TFA candidates receive classroom support throughout the course of the residency program, which lasts two school years.
After completing an initial year of practice teaching alongside a lead teacher, Relay candidates receive ongoing support from program faculty and a mentor at their school.
Manageable Coursework: Connecticut provides few guidelines about the nature and quantity of coursework for its alternate routes.
Targeted Coursework: Connecticut's OHE ARC candidates take core sessions that cover such topics as classroom management, differentiated instruction, lesson/unit planning, and assessment of student learning. ARC candidates also take methods classes that aim to prepare them to plan and teach content and assess students.
The Charter Oak State College program requires that candidates complete multiple field-based projects throughout the program and a four-week full-time internship. The program incorporates a series of modules that include methods courses, preparation on classroom management, intervention and strategies for children with special needs, and early literacy.
TFA candidates must complete an intensive five week summer-training program, but the program does not list specific coursework requirements.
The Relay curriculum centers around elements aligned with the immediate needs of new teachers (e.g., building subject knowledge, classroom culture, developing personal connections with students and families, creating high-quality lessons, and data-driven instruction). The two-year program incorporates both traditional coursework and field-embedded requirements.
ARC program catalogue: http://www.ctohe.org/arc/pdfs/ARCCatalog/2017ARC/ARCCatalog2017-18.pdf Charter Oak State College ECE ARC: https://www.charteroak.edu/certificates/ece_arc.cfm; https://www.charteroak.edu/catalog/current/courses/arc.cfm TFA Connecticut: https://connecticut.teachforamerica.org/teaching-here TFA training and support: https://www.teachforamerica.org/join-tfa/leading-classroom/training-support TFA Summer Training: https://www.teachforamerica.org/join-tfa/leading-classroom/training-support/summer-training-experience
Require practice teaching opportunities.
Connecticut 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.
Connecticut 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.
Connecticut 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.
Target coursework for all new teachers.
Connecticut should ensure that all novice alternate route teachers' coursework is relevant 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 instruction in the science of reading.
Connecticut was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.
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