Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide efficient preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers, as well as adequate mentoring and support.
Hawaii does not provide guidelines for its alternate route programs.
Hawaii Preparation Programs http://www.htsb.org/licensing-permits/preparation-programs/
Hawaii should establish minimum requirements for its alternate route programs to ensure that they provide streamlined preparation that meets the immediate needs of new teachers. The state should articulate guidelines regarding the nature and amount of coursework required of candidates. Further, alternate route programs should not be permitted to overburden the new teacher by requiring multiple courses to be taken simultaneously during the school year. Hawaii should also ensure that programs can be completed within two years. In addition, the state should establish guidelines for practice teaching and/or induction to ensure that new teachers are supported in the first year of teaching.
Hawaii noted that the definition and guidelines for alternate route certification of the Hawaii Teachers Standard Board are adapted from the U.S. Department of Education.
"Alternative Route means pathways to licensure that allow the establishment and operation of state approved teacher preparation programs in the State designated to recruit, prepare and license talented individuals who hold at least a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university and may have careers in fields other than education. Alternative route programs have the following characteristics, in addition to standard features such as demonstrations of subject-matter mastery, and high-quality instruction in pedagogy and in addressing the needs of all students in the classroom including English language learners and students with disabilities:
(a) can be provided by various types of qualified providers, including both institutions of higher education and other providers operating independently from institutions of higher education;
(b) are selective in accepting candidates, using a rigorous screening process. It is recommended that this process includes passing tests, interviews, and demonstrated mastery of content in the field which licensure is sought (e.g. Praxis II content tests or an academic major in the content field);
(c) provide intensive, supervised, school-based experiences with structured ongoing support such as effective mentoring and coaching;
(d) significantly limit the amount of coursework required or have options to test out of courses or allow candidates to demonstrate equivalent experience;
(e) hold high performance standards for completion; and
(f) upon completion, recommend the same level of licensure that traditional preparation programs award upon completion."
The state response refers to a set of general principals that NCTQ notes are well aligned with NCTQ's recommendations. However, these principals are no substitute for formal state policy articulating parameters for alternate route programs.
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.
Alternate Route Preparation: Supporting Research
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 E.R. Ducharme and M.K. Ducharme, "Quantity and quality: Not enough to go around." Journal of Teacher Education, Volume 49, No. 3, May 1998, pp. 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 J.W. Miller, M.C. McKenna, and B.A. McKenna, "A comparison of alternatively and traditionally prepared teachers". Journal of Teacher Education, Volume 49, No. 3, May 1998, pp. 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, Volume 17, No. 1, Spring 2007, pp. 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: Final Report 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.