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.
New Jersey's alternate route preparation requires candidates to first obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (CE), which allows candidates to seek and accept employment in the state's public schools that require certification. Once a candidate secures a position, the employing school or district must register the candidate in a Provisional Teacher Program (PTP), through which the candidate receives a provisional license. New Jersey made changes to its CE program for candidates who began teaching in the 2017-2018 school year.
Coursework Requirements: New Jersey requires that CE programs include 50 hours of a pre-professional experience, which occurs prior to the candidate's full-time professional teaching experience. This pre-professional experience must include 15 hours in coursework and 20 hours of clinical experience; the remaining 15 hours of the pre-professional experience are up to the program to decide and may include additional hours to the coursework and/or clinical practice components.
After the pre-professional experience, CE candidates begin the in-service portion of their preparation, which must consist of 350 formal instructional hours or 24 semester-hour credits, and must be completed over the span of at least two years. The curriculum for these hours must be aligned with the state's teaching standards and must build upon the content and skills of an individual candidate. In order to successfully complete a CE program, candidates must pass a Commissioner-approved performance assessment.
New Jersey further requires that CE programs preparing candidates in documented areas of teacher shortage include content-specific courses and content-based pedagogy. In addition, these specific programs may structure the pre-professional experience and/or the 350 formal instructional hours to cover subject-specific coursework.
Induction Support: New Jersey requires all school districts to develop a district mentoring program to provide nontenured teachers, including novice provisional teachers who hold a CE, with induction support aimed at introducing these candidates to the teaching profession and to the school district community through differentiated supports based on candidates' individual needs. Each induction plan must include one-to-one mentoring, during which the mentor and the provisional teacher holding a CE are required to meet with each other at least once per week for the first eight weeks of a candidate's teaching assignment.
Supervised Practice Teaching Requirements: New Jersey requires that, as part of CE programs' clinical practice, CE candidates receive 10 hours of planning and delivering instruction through an individual or co-teaching model.
As a result of New Jersey's strong alternate route preparation policies, no recommendations are provided.
New Jersey recognized the factual accuracy of this goal.
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.