The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide streamlined preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers.
Although Massachusetts does offer some key components of a quality alternate route program, it could do more to meet the immediate needs of new teachers.
There are no coursework or clock hour limitations on alternate route programs in Massachusetts. All classes must be directly linked to state standards and include classroom management and observations of other teachers. Elementary candidates must also complete coursework in mathematics, English and reading instruction.
Candidates complete a pre-practicum experience prior to entering the classroom. There is no required number of hours, although the state recommends a minimum of 25 hours. Candidates are required to complete a 150-hour minimum practicum and are provided a mentor throughout the school year. Release time is provided for the new teacher during the first five months of employment.
Candidates can receive full certification after three years.
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Massachusetts is commended for the nature of its coursework requirements, but the state does not ensure that alternate route candidates receive streamlined preparation. The state should articulate guidelines regarding the amount of coursework required of candidates. Too many courses can be counterproductive to a teacher's success. The state should ensure that a new teacher's workload is limited to one course at a time while teaching. Requirements should be manageable and contribute to the immediate needs of new teachers.
Ensure program completion in less than two years.
Massachusetts 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.
Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers.
While Massachusetts is commended for requiring all new teachers to work with a mentor and for providing release time to new teachers, there are insufficient guidelines indicating that the induction program is structured for new teacher success.
Massachusetts asserted that there are no limitations on when a teacher can earn licensure through an alternative route. The state also pointed to its standards for induction programs for teachers.