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.
Missouri has four alternate routes to certification: the Innovative and Alternative Professional Education Program, the Temporary Authorization Certificate, the Doctoral Route to Certification, and the American Board Certification for Teacher Excellence (ABCTE).
Coursework requirements: Missouri requires candidates in the Innovative and Alternative Professional Education Program to complete an unspecified amount of preservice coursework in the areas of adolescent development, psychology of learning and teaching methodology in the content area. Eight additional semester hours of professional education coursework are also required. Program guidelines indicate that candidates "usually complete about 30 semester hours of coursework."
Temporary Authorization Certificate candidates must complete nine semester hours of coursework in their area of assignment. Overall, coursework is limited to 24 credit hours in the areas of psychology of the exceptional child, behavioral management techniques, measurement and evaluation, teaching methods/instructional strategies, methods of teaching reading, and developmental psychology.
The state does not outline the nature or quantity of coursework required of ABCTE or Doctoral Certification programs.
Induction support: Missouri requires that all alternate route candidates receive two years of intensive mentoring, which includes coaching as well as observation and feedback on training and skills. Innovative and Alternative Professional Education Program candidates are assigned a mentor who teaches the same subject and approximately the same grade level, for the full length of the program.
Supervised practice teaching requirements: Missouri does not require its alternate routes to ensure that candidates participate in a supervised practice teaching opportunity during their preparation.
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Missouri 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 should not overburden the new teacher by requiring multiple courses to be taken simultaneously during the school year. The coursework should also contribute to the immediate needs of new teachers; however well-intentioned, 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.
Strengthen the induction experience of new teachers.
While Missouri is commended for offering high-quality mentoring support to new alternate route teachers, the state should strengthen its induction experience by providing for: a reduced teaching load, and release time to allow new teachers to observe more experienced teachers.
Require opportunities for candidates to practice teach.
In addition to intensive induction support, Missouri should provide its candidates with a practice teaching opportunity prior to their placement in the classroom.
Missouri was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.
The state noted that all provisional and temporary candidates working through an educator preparation program are required to be evaluated using the Missouri Educator Evaluation System.
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.