Alternate Route Preparation: Nevada

Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide streamlined preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers.

Meets in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Alternate Route Preparation: Nevada results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/NV-Alternate-Route-Preparation-7

Analysis of Nevada's policies

New legislation recently passed in Nevada changes the requirements for the state's alternate route. The Nevada Commission on Professional Standards is charged with setting specific guidelines for alternate route programs by December 31, 2011.

New regulations will require providers to "significantly limit the amount of coursework required." The state also indicates that a waiver should be granted for coursework to candidates who achieve a certain score on a test.

The Commission on Professional Standards will also have to require providers to offer supervised, school-based experiences and ongoing support for candidates, such as mentoring or coaching.

The state asserts that programs should be completed in two or fewer years and that candidates will be eligible for standard certification upon completion. 

Citation

Recommendations for Nevada

Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Nevada is commended for its intention to limit the amount of coursework alternate route candidates will be required to take. As it moves forward, Nevada 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 that new teachers are supported in the first year of teaching.
While Nevada is commended for requiring programs to provide coaching and mentoring support, the state should offer detailed mentoring guidelines to ensure that new teachers will receive the support they need to facilitate their success in the classroom. Effective strategies include practice teaching prior to teaching in the classroom, intensive mentoring with full classroom support in the first few weeks or months of school, a reduced teaching load and relief time to allow new teachers to observe experienced teachers during each school day. 

State response to our analysis

Nevada recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Research rationale

For a general, quantitative review of the research supporting the need for states to offer an alternate route license, and why alternate routes should not be treated as programs of "last resort," one need simply to look at the numbers of uncertified and out of field teachers in classrooms today, readily available from the National Center for Education Statistics. In addition, with U.S. schools facing the need to hire more than 3.5 million new teachers each year, the need for alternate routes to certification cannot be underestimated. See also Ducharme, E. R. & Ducharme, M. K. (1998). "Quantity and quality: Not enough to go around." Journal of Teacher Education, 49(3), 163-164.

Further, scientific and market research demonstrates that there is a willing and able pool of candidates for alternate certification programs—and many of these individuals are highly educated and intelligent. In fact, the nationally respected polling firm, The Tarrance Group, recently conducted a scientific poll in the State of Florida, identifying that more than 20 percent of Floridians would consider changing careers to become teachers through alternate routes to certification.

We base our argument that alternative-route teachers should be able to earn full licensure after two years on research indicating that teacher effectiveness does not improve dramatically after the third year of teaching. One study (frequently cited on both sides of the alternate route debate) identified that after three years, traditional and alternatively-certified teachers demonstrate the same level of effectiveness, see Miller, J. W., McKenna, M. C., & McKenna, B. A. (1998). Nontraditional teacher preparation: A comparison of alternatively and traditionally prepared teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 49(3), 165-176. This finding is supported by D. Boyd,  D. Goldhaber,  H. Lankford, and J. Wyckoff, "The Effect of Certification and Preparation on Teacher Quality." The Future of Children (2007): 45-68. 

Project MUSE (http://muse.jhu.edu/), found that student achievement was similar for alternatively-certified teachers as long as the program they came from was "highly selective."

The need for a cap on education coursework and the need for intensive mentoring are also backed by research, as well as common sense. In 2004, Education Commission of the States reviewed more than 150 empirical studies and determined that there is evidence "for the claim that assistance for new teachers, and, in particular, mentoring [have] a positive impact on teachers and their retention." The 2006 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher validates these conclusions. In addition, Mathematica (2009) found that student achievement suffers when alternate route teachers are required to take excessive amounts of coursework. See An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification at: http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/pdfs/education/teacherstrained09.pdf

See also Alternative Certification Isn't Alternative (NCTQ, 2007) at: http://www.nctq.org/p/publications/docs/Alternative_Certification_Isnt_Alternative_20071124023109.pdf.