Alternate Routes Policy
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.
Nebraska offers two alternate pathways to certification: its Transitional Teaching Permit and its new Alternative Program Teaching Permit.
Coursework Requirements: Nebraska requires all programs to articulate required coursework leading to candidates' competency in several areas, including student development and learning, content knowledge and application, assessment and planning, and instructional strategies. Nebraska's Transitional Teacher Permit is primarily managed by the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Candidates accepted into this program must have their transcripts evaluated by a program certification officer to determine coursework requirements. Candidates must have completed at least 75-percent of the course requirements for preparation in an endorsement area, which includes curricula focused on subject, pedagogical and professional knowledge. Six semester hours of coursework must be completed annually for a total of 18 credit hours; this must include 100 hours of field experience to be completed across three semesters. Candidates must also complete a preteaching seminar that includes preparation on the areas of diversity, classroom management, curriculum planning, and instructional strategies prior to assuming responsibility for the classroom, and a total of 24 graduate credit hours of professional education coursework.
Nebraska does not provide guidance on the quantity of coursework required by programs offering preparation for Alternative Program Teaching Permits.
Induction Support: Nebraska's Transitional Teaching Permit requires schools accepting Transitional Permit candidates to provide a quality mentor teacher throughout the length of classroom teaching. The state does not provide guidance on the induction support required for Alternative Program Teaching candidates.
Supervised Practice Teaching Requirements: Nebraska requires all programs to provide supervised clinical experiences that include student teaching or internships. Programs must ensure clinical practice experiences are a minimum of one semester and take place in the appropriate field- and subject-area endorsement.
Title 92 Nebraska Administrative Code, Chapter 21, Sections 005.27, 005.28, 005.11, and 005.12 Transition to Teaching: http://www.education.ne.gov/EducatorPrep/TopPages/TTT.html Transitional Certification Program: http://www.unk.edu/academics/ted/transitional_certification/index.php
Establish coursework guidelines for all alternate route preparation programs.
Nebraska should not permit alternate route programs to overburden the new teacher by requiring multiple courses to be taken simultaneously during the school year. Setting minimum requirements, without established maximums, does not ensure that the new teacher will be able to complete the program in an appropriate amount of time without being overburdened by coursework. Further, the state should ensure that all course requirements 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.
Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers.
Although Nebraska requires all candidates seeking a Transitional Teaching Permit to work with a mentor, it is unclear that the mentoring program is structured for new teacher success. The state should provide a strong induction experience to all alternate route candidates by 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 the school day.
Nebraska was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced 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.