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.
Maine offers five alternate route preparation paths: the Adjunct Teaching Path (ATP), the Advanced Degree Alternative Path (ADAP), the Core Academic Preparation Path (CAP), the Clinical Practice Path (CP), and the One-Year Supervised Practicum Path (OYSP).
Coursework Requirements: Maine does not articulate any requirements on the quantity of the coursework that alternate route programs may provide. With regard to the nature of coursework requirements, Maine requires alternate route program providers to ensure that programs prepare candidates on the state's teaching standards and in the key pedagogical areas of preparation, assessment, engagement, classroom management, and ethics.
Induction Support: Maine requires that all alternate route candidates participate in an Individualized Induction Plan (IIP) that includes coaching and supervision. As part of the IIP, candidates must be supported by a Local Support Team (LST), which consists of a school-based administrator, a school-based mentor or teaching coach, a supervisor from the program provider, and a content specialist if the mentor or supervisor is not a content specialist in the candidate's intended teaching area. The LST is provided to a candidate for at least one academic year, and it provides an assessment of candidates' knowledge and skills, which ultimately determines the team's recommendation on whether the candidate can remain in the assigned alternate route path or be transferred to another path that can better support the candidate's needs.
Supervised Practice Teaching Requirements: Maine does not require that its alternate route candidates participate in a supervised practice teaching experience.
Maine Rule 05-071, Chapter 114, Sec 2.1.22
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Maine 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 requirements.
Provide an induction program to support alternate route teachers.
Maine is commended for requiring candidates to follow an Individualized Induction Plan and for explicitly requiring both coaching and development activities. 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.
Require opportunities for candidates to practice teach.
In addition to intensive induction support, Maine should provide its candidates with a practice teaching opportunity prior to their placement in the classroom.
Maine recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
The state added that upcoming statutes and regulations will address Maine's alternate route preparation standards.
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.