The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide efficient preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers, as well as intensive induction support. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.
Delaware has six routes to alternative certification: the Alternative Route for Licensure and Certification (ARTC) program, the Delaware Transition to Teaching Partnership (DT3P), the Masters Plus Certification Program (MPCP) in special education, Teach For America (TFA), Relay Graduate School of Education, and Ninety-one Days in Lieu of Student Teaching.
Coursework requirements: Delaware requires that all alternate routes offer candidates approximately 200 hours of preparation that covers three areas: curriculum, student development and learning at all levels, and the classroom and the school. Preparation on curriculum includes such topics as the organization and presentation of subject-matter and the reading process and other language arts skill development relevant to candidates' intended teaching field, and a knowledge of techniques and materials for fostering the development of reading and language arts skills. Student development and learning at all levels covers topics such as preparation on language development, student motivation, and preventing classroom disruption. The classroom and school includes preparation on pacing instruction, setting goals, and classroom management.
Induction support: Delaware requires that its alternate routes must provide intensive on-the-job supervision beginning on the first day a candidate assumes full responsibility of a classroom for at least 10 weeks. At the end of a candidate's first 10 weeks in a classroom, he or she must receive a formal written progress report from certified evaluators. Alternate route programs are also required to provide program candidates with a mentor and ensure that all program candidates participate in the state-approved mentoring program. The state-approved mentoring program lasts at least 20 weeks and during it, candidates are formally observed and evaluated at least twice.
Supervised practice teaching requirements: Delaware requires that during the preparation for alternate route candidates, there is an introduction to basic teaching skills through supervised teaching experiences with students.
As a result of Delaware's strong alternate route preparation policies, no recommendations are provided.
Delaware recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
5B: Preparation for the Classroom
Alternate route programs must provide practical, meaningful preparation that is sensitive to a new teacher's workload and 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. That is, while advanced pedagogy coursework may be meaningful for veteran teachers, alternate route coursework should build on more fundamental teaching competencies such as classroom management techniques, reading instruction, or curriculum delivery.
Most new teachers—regardless of their preparation—find themselves overwhelmed by taking on 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. States must ensure that alternate route programs do not leave new teachers to "sink or swim" on their own when they begin teaching. It is critical that all alternate route programs provide at least a brief student teaching or other supervised practice experience for candidates before they enter the classroom, as well as ongoing induction support during those first critical months as a new teacher.