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.
Michigan offers an interim teaching certificate to candidates who are prepared through the state's authorized alternate route programs.
Coursework requirements: Michigan requires that alternate route programs provide candidates with an intensive training program of at least the equivalent of 12 college credit hours. No maximum requirements are articulated. Training must include coursework in child development or psychology, family and community relationships, diverse learners, and instructional strategies. The state requires providers to demonstrate that coursework is appropriate for the grade levels and subject area of the candidate, and is aligned with the MI-InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards.
Induction support: The state requires that the district support the new teacher with "intensive observation and coaching," but no further details or definitions are articulated.
Supervised practice teaching requirements: Michigan requires that its alternate route programs ensure that candidates have a field-based experience in a classroom setting, however, it is unclear whether this includes supervised practice teaching.
Michigan Revised School Code 380.1531i Program Standards and Requirements for Alternate Route Providers: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwDIc7lkrCT3RWFtVUhVWUhYZlE/view
Establish coursework guidelines for all alternate route preparation programs.
Michigan 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. 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. The state should also ensure that coursework requirements 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 Michigan requires districts to provide new teachers with observation and coaching, it is unclear that such programs will lead to new teacher success. The state should provide more detailed induction guidelines to ensure that new teachers will receive the support they need during their initial months in the classroom. Effective induction strategies 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 each school day.
Require opportunities for candidates to practice teach.
While Michigan requires alternate route candidates to complete a field-based experience in a classroom, the state should ensure that all candidates are provided with a practice teaching opportunity prior to their placement in the classroom.
Michigan was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced 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.