Alternate Route Preparation: Maryland

2011 Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide streamlined preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers.

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Alternate Route Preparation: Maryland results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MD-Alternate-Route-Preparation-7

Analysis of Maryland's policies

Maryland offers an alternate route with streamlined preparation that meets the immediate needs of new teachers.

Maryland Approved Alternative Preparation Program (MAAPP) candidates must complete a minimum of 90 hours of study that may consist of a combination of semester hours and clock hours and includes elementary reading processes and acquisition or secondary teaching reading in the content areas. The training must include a focus on the teaching and learning skills necessary for immediate success as a teacher of record, including classroom management, lesson planning, and state and local school system priorities.

Candidates complete a four-to-eight-week pre-service training program that includes a supervised internship. The state requires teachers to receive intensive coaching or mentoring throughout the two-year program.

Upon completion of the program, teachers are eligible for a Standard Professional Certificate.

Citation

Recommendations for Maryland

Ensure that new teachers are not burdened by excessive requirements.
Alternate route programs should not be permitted 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.

State response to our analysis

Maryland was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. Further, the state noted that in addition to the 90 preservice instructional hours, the supervised internship is at least 128 hours. The state asserted that this streamlined approach balances both focused instruction and practicum hours. Therefore, candidates engage in at least 218 hours of preparation and clinical experience, which the state contended "assure[s] classroom success."

Maryland explained that both supervisors and mentors are trained to function in the context of the individual preparation programs. The state is working to design a framework for coaching and mentoring to be used by all alternate route programs by the fall 2012; the framework is currently being piloted.

In terms of outlining specific coursework requirements, the state asserted that the current documents outline outcomes showing that standards have been met, not coursework. "Performance-based training and assessment in most assessment systems, both traditional and alternative, have moved well away from suggesting certain courses and toward assessing outcomes. That accountability to meeting standards is part of the State Program Approval process, and is functional in current practice; however, that fact should be made clearer in public documents."

How we graded

Alternate route programs must provide practical, meaningful preparation that is sensitive to a new teacher's 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.

Induction support is especially important for alternate route teachers.

Most new teachers—regardless of their preparation—find themselves overwhelmed on taking responsibility for 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. While alternate route programs will ideally have provided at least a brief student teaching experience, not all programs can incorporate this into their models. States must ensure that alternate route programs do not leave new teachers to "sink or swim" on their own when they begin teaching.

Research rationale

For a general, quantitative review of the research supporting the need for states to offer an alternate route license, and why alternate routes should not be treated as programs of "last resort," one need simply to look at the numbers of uncertified and out of field teachers in classrooms today, readily available from the National Center for Education Statistics. In addition, with U.S. schools facing the need to hire more than 3.5 million new teachers each year, the need for alternate routes to certification cannot be underestimated. See also Ducharme, E. R. & Ducharme, M. K. (1998). "Quantity and quality: Not enough to go around." Journal of Teacher Education, 49(3), 163-164.

Further, scientific and market research demonstrates that there is a willing and able pool of candidates for alternate certification programs—and many of these individuals are highly educated and intelligent. In fact, the nationally respected polling firm, The Tarrance Group, recently conducted a scientific poll in the State of Florida, identifying that more than 20 percent of Floridians would consider changing careers to become teachers through alternate routes to certification.

We base our argument that alternative-route teachers should be able to earn full licensure after two years on research indicating that teacher effectiveness does not improve dramatically after the third year of teaching. One study (frequently cited on both sides of the alternate route debate) identified that after three years, traditional and alternatively-certified teachers demonstrate the same level of effectiveness, see Miller, J. W., McKenna, M. C., & McKenna, B. A. (1998). Nontraditional teacher preparation: A comparison of alternatively and traditionally prepared teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 49(3), 165-176. This finding is supported by D. Boyd,  D. Goldhaber,  H. Lankford, and J. Wyckoff, "The Effect of Certification and Preparation on Teacher Quality." The Future of Children (2007): 45-68. 

Project MUSE (http://muse.jhu.edu/), found that student achievement was similar for alternatively-certified teachers as long as the program they came from was "highly selective."

The need for a cap on education coursework and the need for intensive mentoring are also backed by research, as well as common sense. In 2004, Education Commission of the States reviewed more than 150 empirical studies and determined that there is evidence "for the claim that assistance for new teachers, and, in particular, mentoring [have] a positive impact on teachers and their retention." The 2006 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher validates these conclusions. In addition, Mathematica (2009) found that student achievement suffers when alternate route teachers are required to take excessive amounts of coursework. See An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification at: http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/pdfs/education/teacherstrained09.pdf

See also Alternative Certification Isn't Alternative (NCTQ, 2007) at: http://www.nctq.org/p/publications/docs/Alternative_Certification_Isnt_Alternative_20071124023109.pdf.