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.
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.
105 ILCS 5/21B-50 23 Illinois Administrative Code 25.60 Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois Educator Licensure FAQ, pg. 16-17: https://www.isbe.net/Documents/ELIS-faq.pdf#search=alternative%20route%20to%20certification
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.
Illinois was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.
5B: Preparation for the Classroom
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. 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. 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. 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.