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.
SB 117 KRS 161.028; 161.030 (5)-(8); 161.048; 161.049 16 KAR 09:060; 9:070, 9:080 Education Professional Standards Board, Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification: http://www.epsb.ky.gov/certification/certaltroutes.asp TFA training and support: https://www.teachforamerica.org/join-tfa/leading-classroom/training-support TFA Summer Training: https://www.teachforamerica.org/join-tfa/leading-classroom/training-support/summer-training-experience
Establish coursework guidelines for all alternate route preparation programs.
Kentucky should articulate guidelines regarding the nature and amount of coursework required for all 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 most alternate route programs in Kentucky provide new teachers with mentors, it is unclear that all mentoring programs are structured for new teacher success. The state should ensure that all alternate route candidates have access to high-quality induction experiences that include: 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.
In addition to intensive induction support, Kentucky should provide its candidates with a practice teaching opportunity prior to their placement in the classroom.
Kentucky was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.
Kentucky noted that candidates may also enter the teaching profession by obtaining an Adjunct Instructor Certificate.
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.