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.
Florida offers alternate routes with streamlined preparation that meet the immediate needs of new teachers.
Florida's Alternative Certification Program (FACP) offers a preservice component known as "Survival Training." The specifics of this training are left up to individual school districts. New teachers complete a pre-assessment which then informs their individual action plan. Coursework requirements are based on this action plan. As needed, new teachers complete online professional development courses in the 12 Educator Accomplished Practices, including assessment, communication, continuous improvement, critical thinking, diversity, ethics, human development and learning, knowledge of subject matter, learning environments, planning, role of the teacher and technology.
Florida also prepares alternate route candidates through Educator Preparation Institutes (EPI). New teachers participating in an EPI must receive instruction in professional knowledge and subject-matter content; however, the state does not outline specific coursework for EPI programs.
FACP teachers do not have a practice-teaching requirement but are assigned a peer mentor. Individuals participating in an EPI program must complete a field experience but are not required to have mentor support during their first year. District Alternative Certification programs do not include a practice-teaching component, as candidates are teachers of record and receive on-the-job training from a mentor.
Florida's alternate routes make all candidates eligible to earn a Professional Certificate in two years.
Florida Statutes 1004.85 http://www.altcertflorida.org/programOverview.htm
Establish coursework guidelines for all alternate route preparation programs.
Florida is commended for both the amount and nature of coursework requirements for teachers in the FACP. Florida should establish similar guidelines for the Educator Preparation Institutes. 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 support to all alternate route teachers.
While Florida is commended for requiring FACP teachers to work with a mentor, new teachers in an EPI 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.
Florida was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state reiterated that the EPI route must provide professional knowledge and subject-matter content that includes the educator accomplished practices and competencies specified in State Board Rule and that meets subject-matter content requirements, professional competency testing requirements, and competencies associated with teaching scientifically based reading instruction and strategies, which research has shown to be successful in improving reading among low-performing readers. Florida stated that the courses must be approved by the Department of Education prior to implementation and must include a field experience.