2011 Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide streamlined preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers.
Minnesota does not ensure that its alternate route candidates will receive streamlined preparation that meets the immediate needs of new teachers.
Minnesota requires that alternate route programs provide a minimum of 200 instructional hours to candidates before they can assume classroom responsibilities. The state provides no specific guidelines about the nature of the coursework for its alternate route except to say that it should be research-based and focused on best practices. There is also no limit on the overall amount of coursework, nor on the amount of coursework a candidate can be required to take while also teaching.
The state requires alternate route programs in partnership with districts to provide intensive, ongoing, and multi-year mentoring and induction support to new teachers.
Candidates are issued a two-year limited term license while completing the alternate route program. In some cases the state will renew this limited license one additional time for a one-year term. Upon completion, alternate route candidates may be recommended for the standard teaching certificate.
Minnesota SF 40 amending 122A.245
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Simply mandating coursework without specifying the purpose can inadvertently send the wrong message to program providers—that "anything goes" as long as credits are granted. However constructive, any course that is not fundamentally practical and immediately necessary should be eliminated as a requirement. Appropriate coursework should include grade-level or subject-level seminars, methodology in the content area, classroom management, assessment and scientifically based early reading instruction.
Ensure that new teachers are not burdened by excessive requirements.
While requiring some preparation prior to entering the classroom is important, Minnesota requires alternate route candidates to take a considerable amount of coursework before they begin teaching, an amount more typically associated with a traditional preparation program. All coursework requirements should be manageable for career changers and other nontraditional candidates and contribute to the immediate needs of new teachers.
Ensure that new teachers are supported in the first year of teaching.
Minnesota should provide more detailed induction guidelines to ensure that new teachers will receive the support they need to facilitate their success in the classroom. Effective strategies include practice teaching prior to teaching in the classroom, 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.
Minnesota recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state was also helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced the analysis.