The state should provide an alternate route that is free from regulatory obstacles that limit its usage and providers.
Nebraska limits the usage and providers of its alternate route.
Although state law does not place restrictions on the usage of the Transitional Teaching Certificate, the only current provider offers its alternate route only at the secondary level. Further, school districts that employ alternate route candidates as teachers must provide documentation that no other qualified teachers were available for the position.
Only institutions of higher education can provide alternate route programs.
Nebraska Rule 21 005.30B Nebraska Rule 20
Broaden alternate route usage.
Nebraska should reconsider grade-level and subject area restrictions on its alternate route. The state should also provide a true alternative path to certification and eliminate requirements that alternate route teachers can only be hired if traditionally certified teachers cannot be found. Alternate routes should not be programs of last resort for hard-to-staff subjects, grade levels or geographic areas but rather a way to expand the teacher pipeline throughout the state.
Encourage diversity of alternate route providers.
Nebraska should specifically authorize alternate route programs run by local school districts and nonprofits, as well as institutions of higher education. A good diversity of providers helps all programs, both university- and non-university-based, to improve.
Nebraska asserted that although schools are asked to document that an effort was made to find a fully certified/endorsed teacher for the position, districts are "not prohibited from hiring an alternate route teacher if applicants who are fully certified/endorsed do not possess the dispositions or professional qualities (fit) for the district."
The state also disagreed that grade-level and subject-area restrictions should be removed, noting that "these grade levels and subject areas are consistent for all Nebraska teachers." The state further noted that the alternate route program "assumes that the individual brings an undergraduate content degree upon which to build. Not all areas (such as special education and elementary education) have an undergraduate content degree which would support the content background necessary to meet Nebraska's standards for an effective alternative entry candidate."
Unfortunately, the state's response illustrates the belief that alternate routes are a lesser certification option, acceptable only when there is not an adequate supply of traditionally prepared teachers. This perspective prevents these routes from being a true alternative that creates another pipeline for talented, nontraditional candidates to enter the classroom. As for the state's concern about elementary and special education teachers, the latter of which is often in short supply, the state could design a program that ensures that requisite content knowledge is present through its admissions requirements and frontloads essential pedagogy.