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.
Nevada's Commission on Professional Standards authorizes districts, colleges and universities, and private providers to offer alternate routes to licensure.
Coursework Requirements: Nevada requires candidates seeking conditional licensure through an alternate route to complete 18 semester credits of targeted coursework within the following areas: classroom management, English as a second language, curriculum and instruction, assessment, teaching students with disabilities, and subject area methods and materials.
Induction Support: Nevada requires its alternate route providers to "provide supervised, school-based experiences and ongoing support for its students, such as mentoring and coaching." The state requires alternate route providers to offer a detailed description of how the school-based experience requirement will be met, including the length; how participants will be mentored and evaluated; and how the experience promotes effectiveness.
Supervised Practice Teaching Requirements: Nevada does not require its alternate route providers to ensure that candidates participate in a supervised practice teaching opportunity during their preparation.
NAC 391.019; 391.461 Nevada Department of Education, Alternate Routes to Licensure: http://www.doe.nv.gov/Educator_Effectiveness/Educator_Develop_Support/Educator_Preparation/Alternative_Routes_to__Licensure_(ARL)/
Ensure that new teachers are not burdened by excessive requirements
While Nevada is commended for articulating guidelines regarding the nature of the coursework required of alternate route candidates, the state should ensure that alternate route programs do not overburden the new teacher by requiring multiple courses to be taken simultaneously during the school year.
Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers.
Although Nevada requires all new teachers to take part in a supervised school-based experience, it is unclear that this program is structured for new teacher success. The state should ensure that new teachers are provided with a strong induction experience 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.
Require opportunities for candidates to practice teach.
In addition to intensive induction support, Nevada should provide its candidates with a practice teaching opportunity prior to their placement in the classroom.
Nevada was helpful in providing facts that enhanced this analysis.
Nevada asserted that the alternate route provider application is required to include "A detailed description of how the provider will meet the school-based experience requirement mandated by Nevada legislation."
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.