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.
Illinois does not ensure that its alternate route candidates will receive streamlined preparation that meets the immediate needs of new teachers.
Illinois requires candidates for Alternate Teacher Certification and Alternative Route to Teacher Certification to complete a course of study in education theory and instructional methods, but the state does not specify the amount of coursework required. Teachers in the Resident Teacher Certification program must complete a six-week intensive teacher preparation course the summer prior to entering the classroom and then work toward a master's degree while teaching.
Alternate Teacher Certification candidates have the opportunity for practice teaching, although the state does not provide guidance on this requirement. Candidates in the Alternative Route to Teacher Certification and the Resident Teacher Certification routes are mentored by a certified teacher assigned by the school district for the first year.
The state requires that alternate route programs require less time to complete than traditional programs. The current range for program completion is one and a half to two and a half years. However, teachers may apply for the Standard Teaching Certificate only after completing four years of teaching.
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs
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.
Extend induction to all alternate route teachers.
While Illinois is commended for requiring Alternative Route to Teacher Certification and the Resident Teacher Certification teachers to work with a mentor, Alternate Teacher Certification teachers 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.
Grant standard certification in less than four years.
Although Illinois policy states that alternate route programs should be more streamlined than traditional preparation programs, the state should consider shortening the length of time it takes an alternate route teacher to earn standard certification. The route should allow candidates to earn full certification no later than the end of the second year of teaching.
Illinois recognized the factual accuracy of NCTQ's analysis but noted that SB 1799, which provides a two-year alternate route program with much closer mentoring the first year than the second, is pending. The state stated that it agreed with NCTQ that teachers needed more support the first year in the classroom.
NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.