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.
Kansas offers one alternate route into teaching through its Restricted Teacher License.
Coursework Requirements: Kansas provides minimal guidelines about the nature or quantity of coursework for the Restricted Teacher License. The state only requires that the preparation for the license cannot exceed two years, and that "the program provided to the applicant will meet the institution's approved professional education standards."
Induction Support: Kansas requires that Restricted Teacher License candidates are provided on-site support at their employing district, including supervision of their teaching experience. Each candidate must be assigned an experienced mentor by the employing district.
Supervised Practice Teaching Requirements: Kansas now requires that all Restricted Teacher License candidates undergo a supervised practical training experience through collaboration of the teacher education institution and the hiring district.
Kansas Education Regulations 91-1-203(h) Restricted Teacher License Alternative Pathway: http://www.ksde.org/Agency/Division-of-Learning-Services/Teacher-Licensure-and-Accreditation/Postsecondary/Educator-Preparation/Restricted-Teaching-License-Alternative-Pathway
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Although Kansas should be commended for requiring that alternate route preparation programs not exceed two years, the state should articulate guidelines regarding the nature and amount of coursework required of candidates. Requirements should be manageable given the time constraints of a novice teacher and contribute to the immediate needs of new teachers. Appropriate coursework should include grade-level or subject-level seminars, methodology in the content area, classroom management, assessment and scientifically based early reading instruction. However well-intentioned, any course that is not fundamentally practical and immediately necessary should be eliminated as a requirement.
Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers.
Although Kansas requires all new teachers to work with a mentor, it is unclear that the mentoring program is structured for new teacher success. 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.
Kansas recognized the factual accuracy of 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.