Preparation for the Classroom: Iowa

Alternate Routes Policy

Goal

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.

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2019). Preparation for the Classroom: Iowa results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/IA-Preparation-for-the-Classroom-93

Analysis of Iowa's policies

Iowa offers an alternate pathway into secondary teaching through its Teacher Intern License through Morningside College and Regent's Alternative Pathway to Licensure. General pedagogy coursework is completed the first year, and an internship is secured at full salary in lieu of student teaching the second year while the remaining coursework is completed.

Practice Teaching: Iowa's Teacher Intern candidates must complete at least 50 hours of field experience prior to their initial employment as an intern. Iowa improved the requirements for its field experiences by specifying that this must include opportunities for both observation of exemplary instruction and involvement in co-planning and co-teaching.

Induction Support: Iowa's Teacher Intern candidates participate in a teacher intern seminar during the internship year to support and extend coursework from the teacher intern content and facilitate reflection. All interns are provided with a trained district-level mentor in addition to the program supervisor. Mentors must have a record of 4 years of successful teaching practice with at least 2 of the 4 years on a non-probationary basis and must demonstrate professional commitment to both the improvement of teaching and learning and the development of teacher interns. The mentor provides non-evaluative coaching feedback dependent on the intern's classroom experience. Programs must also provide an orientation for teacher intern candidates that includes program goals and expectations, licensure and ethics requirements, support provided by the program and support provided by the LEA or AEA. Teacher intern faculty shall provide regular supervision in teacher intern candidates' classrooms with additional supervision and assistance provided as needed.

Manageable Coursework: Iowa's Teacher Intern Preparation Programs are required to provide a minimum of 28 semester hours or the equivalent. Coursework must be designed to ensure that teacher intern candidates develop the dispositions, knowledge, and performance expectations of the InTASC standards embedded at a level appropriate for a beginning teacher. 

Targeted Coursework: Coursework and competencies must completed prior to the beginning of candidates' initial employment as an intern include, but are not limited to, understanding how learners grow and develop, content knowledge, classroom management, competence in planning and preparing for instruction, and using a variety of methods to monitor student learning. Additional coursework and competencies to be completed prior to the recommendation for an initial teaching licenses include, but are not limited to, using strategies to deliver instruction that meets the multiple learning needs of students, engaging in professional growth, contributing to efforts to achieve district and building goals, and demonstrating ability to enhance academic performance and support for implementation of the school district student achievement goals. All teacher intern candidates receive preparation in literacy and must be able to demonstrate the ability to integrate reading strategies into content area coursework. All candidates also receive dedicated coursework related to the study of human relations, cultural competency, and diverse learners.

Citation

Recommendations for Iowa

Limit coursework for new teachers.
Iowa 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.

State response to our analysis

Iowa recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Updated: July 2019

How we graded

5B: Preparation for the Classroom
 
  • Practice Teaching: The state should require a supervised practice-teaching experience prior to entry into the classroom as the "teacher of record".
  • Induction: The state should require that all new teachers receive intensive induction support that includes mentorship with experienced educators.
  • Manageable Coursework: The state should ensure that the amount of coursework it either requires or allows is manageable for a novice teacher. Anything exceeding 12 credit/semester hours or 40 contact/clock hours per year may be counterproductive, placing too great a burden on the teacher. This calculation is premised on no more than six credit hours in the summer, three credit hours in the spring, and three credit hours in the fall.
  • Targeted Coursework: The state should ensure that all coursework requirements are targeted to the immediate needs of new teachers, with an emphasis on classroom behavioral management (courses that include childhood development and psychology, culturally responsive teaching and learning, diverse learners, etc.) and pedagogy (courses that include curriculum, instructional planning and assessment; differentiated learning; etc.).
Preparation for the Classroom
The total goal score is earned based on the following:
  • Full credit: The state will earn the full point if all four elements - practice teaching, induction, manageable coursework, and targeted coursework - are required for every alternate route program/pathway offered by the state.
  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if three elements are required for every alternate route program/pathway offered by the state.
  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if two elements are required for every alternate route program/pathway offered by the state.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if one element is required for every alternate route program/pathway offered by the state.

Research rationale

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[1]. 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[2]. 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[3]. Access to highly-effective rated cooperating teachers in student teaching experiences results in pronounced positive outcomes for students of aspiring teachers[4].

Additionally, all new teachers need comprehensive and ongoing professional development even after they become "teachers of record.[5]" Effective induction programs go beyond the basics of new teacher orientation[6] 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[7]. Robust and consistent mentorship not only helps new teachers feel supported, but also improves retention and student outcomes[8]. 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[9]. 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[10]. 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[11]. 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[12].


[1] 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

[2] 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

[3] 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

[4] 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/.

[5] 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

[6] 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

[7] 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

[8] 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

[9] 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

[10] 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

[11] 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

[12] 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