Preparation for the Classroom: Illinois

Alternate Routes 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 intensive induction support. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017). Preparation for the Classroom: Illinois results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Illinois's policies

Illinois offers alternate certification through the Alternative Educator Licensure Program. 

Coursework Requirements: Illinois's Alternative Educator Licensure Program for Teachers includes pre- and in-service preparation coursework that covers instructional planning; instructional strategies, including special education, reading, and English language learning; classroom management; and the assessment of students and the use of data to drive instruction. The state does not specify any amount of time or credits that its alternate route providers must structure their preparation programs around.

Induction Support:
Illinois's Alternative Educator Licensure Program for Teachers program includes two years of residency. Candidates must hold an Educator Licensure with Stipulations with an alternative provisional educator endorsement in order to enter the residency; the first year of the residency is a candidate's full-time assignment to a teaching position or as a co-teacher for one full school year. By the end of the first year, candidates must pass an assessment of professional teaching before they can enter into the second year of the residency requirement. The second year of the residency includes a candidate's assignment to a full-time teaching position for a year, during which a mentor must be assigned to each candidate. Mentors are selected based in part on having been rated at least proficient on their two most recent evaluations. All candidates undergo a comprehensive assessment of their teaching effectiveness at the end of the residency. In addition, trained program coordinators from the Alternative Educator Licensure Program for Teachers must visit the classrooms in which candidates are placed, for an average of one day a week during the school year. 

Supervised Practice Teaching Requirements: Illinois does not require a supervised practice teaching experience through either of its alternate route programs. Although both the Alternative Educator Licensure Program for Teachers requires a two-year residency, candidates can enter this residency as co-teachers or teachers of record.


Recommendations for Illinois

Ensure that new teachers are not burdened by excessive requirements.
Illinois should not permit alternate route programs to overburden the new teacher by requiring multiple courses to be taken simultaneously during the school year.  Setting minimum requirements, without established maximums, does not ensure that the new teacher will be able to complete the program in an appropriate amount of time without being overburdened by coursework.

Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers.
Although Illinois should be commended for its residency model that requires all new teachers to work with a mentor, it is unclear that this mentoring program is structured for the success of all new teachers. The state should strengthen its induction experience by providing for: 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 the school day.

Offer opportunities to practice teach.
While Illinois is commended for offering high-quality mentoring support to new alternate route teachers, the state should provide its candidates with a practice teaching opportunity prior to their placement in the classroom.

State response to our analysis

Illinois was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

5B: Preparation for the Classroom 

  • Practice Teaching: The state should require a supervised practice-teaching experience.
  • Induction: The state should require that all new teachers receive intensive induction support.
  • 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 hours 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 the new teacher (e.g., seminars with other grade-level teachers, classroom management techniques, training in a particular curriculum, reading instruction).
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 are required for all alternate route programs.
  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if three elements are required for all alternate route programs.
  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if two elements are required for at least some of the state's alternate route programs.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if one element is required for at least one of the state's alternate route programs.

Research rationale

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

[1] 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
[2] Walsh, K., & Jacobs, S. (2007). Alternative certification isn't alternative. Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from
[3] Greenberg, J., Walsh, K., & McKee, A. (2014). Teacher Prep Review: A review of the nation's teacher preparation programs. Retrieved from
[4] 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