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.
Nebraska does not ensure that its alternate route candidates will receive streamlined preparation that meets the immediate needs of new teachers.
Candidates working under the Transitional Teacher Certificate have their transcripts evaluated by a program certification officer to determine coursework requirements. Six semester hours of coursework must be completed annually. Candidates must also complete a preteaching seminar that includes information and skill development in the areas of diversity, classroom management, curriculum planning and instructional strategies prior to assuming responsibility for the classroom.
In its response to the 2009 Yearbook Nebraska stated that teachers complete 18 hours of coursework; however, no documentation of this policy could be found.
Transitional Teacher Certificate candidates complete a semester of student teaching after successful completion of the teacher education coursework. Schools must provide a quality mentor teacher throughout the length of classroom teaching.
A Transitional Teaching Certificate may be renewed for a maximum of five years, provided the applicant is making sufficient progress in the program. Upon completion of the program, an initial teaching certificate is awarded.
Nebraska Department of Education Title 92, Chapter 21, Section 005.30
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
The state should articulate guidelines regarding the nature and amount of coursework required of candidates. 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.
Ensure program completion in less than two years.
Nebraska should consider shortening the length of time it takes an alternate route teacher to earn standard certification. The route should allow candidates to earn full certification no later than the end of the second year of teaching.
Clarify practice teaching requirements.
Ideally, alternate route candidates would have a practice-teaching opportunity before they take on full classroom responsibility as teacher of record. It is unclear how an individual who is already the teacher of record can participate in a traditional student teaching experience, making it questionable whether alternate route candidates receive the appropriate support prior to entering the classroom. It is noted that Nebraska provides mentoring support, which can be a suitable alternative, if provided intensively.
Nebraska noted that the Transition to Teaching (TTT) program is managed by the University of Nebraska at Kearney and that specific requirements of the program are established by the university and approved by the state. Nebraska disagreed with NCTQ's contention that its program is not streamlined, asserting that professional education requirements are limited to 18 hours in a specially packaged online sequence. Transcript reviews document that the candidate received content knowledge in their undergraduate preparation. In the event that the candidate has not had content preparation in the areas specified by the Rule, then they will complete additional content coursework to assure appropriate content knowledge for the subject they will be teaching.
Regarding practice teaching, the state indicated that "although it is termed 'student teaching', the TTT teacher completes this as a 'teacher of record'. It is the capstone assurance that they have achieved a level of quality to be awarded the regular certificate. This 'student teaching' semester is supervised as a traditional candidate experience would be supervised and evaluated with the same evaluation rubrics used for traditional candidates." Nebraska asserted that the analysis implies that candidates are not "supervised" until the "student teaching" semester, which is not correct. "In addition to the mentoring component, the university provides supervision to candidates each semester."
Further, Nebraska pointed out that although policy specifies that an individual can renew the TTT certificate for five years, actual practice was modified to be compliant with NCLB requirements, and the program has been organized to assure that candidates complete the program in three years.
NCTQ encourages Nebraska to establish policy that clearly articulates the guidelines outlined in the state's response. Formal policy at present is limited and appears to leave many decisions to the program provider. Rather than relying on informal understandings about policy expectations, formal policy would leave no doubt about how alternate route teachers are prepared.