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.
North Carolina allows alternate route providers to offer preparation to individuals via its newly established Residency License.
Coursework requirements: North Carolina requires candidates to complete a minimum of 30 hours of field experience and 150 hours of coursework or training from a recognized educator preparation program. Educator preparation programs are required to cover coursework that includes classroom management strategies, content-related coursework, instruction in the teaching of scientifically based reading and literacy intervention strategies. However, it is unclear to what degree, and in what manner, these coursework requirements are applied to candidates seeking a Residency License.
Induction support: North Carolina requires that Residency License candidates complete a residency program that lasts a minimum of one year in which they receive ongoing support from the educator preparation program and an assigned mentor who has been rated as "accomplished" on the state evaluation system and has met student growth expectations in the field of licensure sought by the candidate. North Carolina also requires that all beginning teachers are provided mentoring and induction supports by their district. Key elements include mentoring and a two-week, pre-work orientation that includes lesson planning, classroom organization, classroom management and an overview of the state accountability system, including the standard course of study and end-of-grade and end-of-course testing.
Supervised practice teaching requirements: North Carolina requires resident candidates to complete 30 hours of field experience prior to the residency. Field experiences are required to provide candidates with opportunities to observe, practice, and demonstrate knowledge and skills. A field experience may include preclinical classroom experiences.
S599 http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/Senate/PDF/S599v1.pdf http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/educatoreffectiveness/regional/beginning/ G.S. § 115C-296.12(b)
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
North Carolina should clearly articulate guidelines regarding the nature and amount of coursework required of alternate route candidates. Although the state requires candidates to complete a prescribed amount of coursework from an educator preparation program, 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. Requirements should be manageable 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.
Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers.
Although North Carolina is commended for requiring alternate route candidates to take part in a year-long residency that includes mentoring and ongoing support, it is unclear that the mentoring program is structured for new teacher success. The state should strengthen its induction experience by also 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 each school day.
Require opportunities for practice teaching.
While North Carolina does require residency candidates to take part in field experiences prior to entering the classroom, the state should ensure that all candidates are provided with a practice teaching opportunity prior to their placement in the classroom.
North Carolina was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts necessary for 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.