Alternate Route Preparation: Delaware

2011 Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide streamlined preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers.

Meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Alternate Route Preparation: Delaware results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/DE-Alternate-Route-Preparation-7

Analysis of Delaware's policies

Delaware offers its alternate route candidates streamlined preparation that meets the immediate needs of new teachers.

Prior to taking responsibility for a classroom, all Alternative Route for Teacher Licensure and Certification (ARTC) candidates must complete a seminar/practicum of no fewer than 120 clock hours. This includes professional development and introduction of basic teaching skills through a supervised teaching experience. While teaching, an additional 200 hours of coursework in the areas of curriculum, student development and learning, and classroom management is also required. This coursework consists of five graduate-level courses completed through the University of Delaware.

Intensive induction is provided during the first 10 weeks of school. Mentoring is provided for at least 30 weeks and may continue for up to two years. Four cycles of mentoring are available, including Creating a Classroom Environment, Designing Instructional Experiences, Assessment for Student Learning and Professional Growth Planning. During the first two cycles, new teachers are provided with time to talk with colleagues, observe veteran teachers and reflect on their performance, in addition to meeting with their mentors. Cycles three and four involve a learning-team format and preparing a professional growth plan.

ARTC candidates have up to three years to earn certification, but ARTC courses are designed to be completed within 12-18 months. 

The Teach For America (TFA) program requires candidates to complete a five-week intensive training program, which includes practice teaching, during the summer. Coursework is focused on leadership, instructional planning and delivery, classroom management, diversity, learning theory and literacy development. Throughout the two-year program, TFA corps members receive one-on-one coaching.

The Delaware Teaching Fellows complete a six-week intensive training institute that includes a practice-teaching assignment, sessions designed to delve into a curriculum focused on student standards, foundations of teaching, classroom management and other skills necessary to become an effective teacher in a high-need school.

Citation

Recommendations for Delaware

State response to our analysis

Delaware stated that "each alternative route program is structured differently. While the clock hour requirements and other requirements hold constant under state code, the means by which candidates obtain them vary." The state also asserted that all new teachers participate in the state's new teacher-mentoring program/requirements. 

How we graded

Alternate route programs must provide practical, meaningful preparation that is sensitive to a new teacher's 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.

Induction support is especially important for alternate route teachers.

Most new teachers—regardless of their preparation—find themselves overwhelmed on taking responsibility for 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. While alternate route programs will ideally have provided at least a brief student teaching experience, not all programs can incorporate this into their models. States must ensure that alternate route programs do not leave new teachers to "sink or swim" on their own when they begin teaching.

Research rationale

For a general, quantitative review of the research supporting the need for states to offer an alternate route license, and why alternate routes should not be treated as programs of "last resort," one need simply to look at the numbers of uncertified and out of field teachers in classrooms today, readily available from the National Center for Education Statistics. In addition, with U.S. schools facing the need to hire more than 3.5 million new teachers each year, the need for alternate routes to certification cannot be underestimated. See also Ducharme, E. R. & Ducharme, M. K. (1998). "Quantity and quality: Not enough to go around." Journal of Teacher Education, 49(3), 163-164.

Further, scientific and market research demonstrates that there is a willing and able pool of candidates for alternate certification programs—and many of these individuals are highly educated and intelligent. In fact, the nationally respected polling firm, The Tarrance Group, recently conducted a scientific poll in the State of Florida, identifying that more than 20 percent of Floridians would consider changing careers to become teachers through alternate routes to certification.

We base our argument that alternative-route teachers should be able to earn full licensure after two years on research indicating that teacher effectiveness does not improve dramatically after the third year of teaching. One study (frequently cited on both sides of the alternate route debate) identified that after three years, traditional and alternatively-certified teachers demonstrate the same level of effectiveness, see Miller, J. W., McKenna, M. C., & McKenna, B. A. (1998). Nontraditional teacher preparation: A comparison of alternatively and traditionally prepared teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 49(3), 165-176. This finding is supported by D. Boyd,  D. Goldhaber,  H. Lankford, and J. Wyckoff, "The Effect of Certification and Preparation on Teacher Quality." The Future of Children (2007): 45-68. 

Project MUSE (http://muse.jhu.edu/), found that student achievement was similar for alternatively-certified teachers as long as the program they came from was "highly selective."

The need for a cap on education coursework and the need for intensive mentoring are also backed by research, as well as common sense. In 2004, Education Commission of the States reviewed more than 150 empirical studies and determined that there is evidence "for the claim that assistance for new teachers, and, in particular, mentoring [have] a positive impact on teachers and their retention." The 2006 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher validates these conclusions. In addition, Mathematica (2009) found that student achievement suffers when alternate route teachers are required to take excessive amounts of coursework. See An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification at: http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/pdfs/education/teacherstrained09.pdf

See also Alternative Certification Isn't Alternative (NCTQ, 2007) at: http://www.nctq.org/p/publications/docs/Alternative_Certification_Isnt_Alternative_20071124023109.pdf.