Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide streamlined preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers.
Oklahoma does not ensure that its alternate route candidates will receive preparation that meets the immediate needs of new teachers.
Candidates in the Alternative Placement Program must complete an individual coursework plan based on their degree level and relevant work experience. Candidates with a bachelor's degree must complete 18 college credit hours or 270 clock hours, and those with a master's degree must complete 12 college credit hours or 180 clock hours of coursework.
Oklahoma requires the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) to provide candidates with access to workshops, an experienced teacher-advisor and optional access to comprehensive subject-matter refresher courses.
The state specifically prohibits programs from requiring student teaching or a practice-teaching experience. Alternative Placement Program candidates are required to participate in the Oklahoma Teacher Residency program, a year-long mentoring experience for all new teachers. However, Oklahoma has suspended this requirement for the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years.
ABCTE must provide new teachers with an intensive mentoring and induction program.
Candidates are eligible for a standard certificate upon completion of the program, which must be within three years.
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Simply mandating coursework without specifying the purpose can inadvertently send the wrong message to program providers—that "anything goes" as long as credits are granted. However constructive, any course that is not fundamentally practical and immediately necessary should be eliminated as a requirement. 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 not burdened by excessive requirements.
Alternate route programs should not be permitted to overburden the new teacher by requiring multiple courses to be taken simultaneously during the school year. The state should also ensure that the program can be completed within two years.
Ensure program completion in less than two years.
Oklahoma should consider shortening the length of time it takes an alternate route teacher to earn standard certification. The route should allow candidates to earn full certification no later than the end of the second year of teaching.
Lift prohibition on practice teaching.
The opportunity for a limited practice-teaching experience before becoming the teacher of record is highly beneficial. Rather than prohibiting it, Oklahoma should encourage programs to provide such an opportunity.
Ensure that new teachers are supported in the first year of teaching.
Although Oklahoma is recognized for requiring a mentoring program, the state should ensure that new teachers are able to receive this support. Induction guidelines should 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 release time to allow new teachers to observe experienced teachers during each school day.
Oklahoma recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.