The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide streamlined preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers.
Pennsylvania does not ensure that its alternate route candidates will receive streamlined preparation that meets the immediate needs of new teachers.
The Pennsylvania Teacher Intern Certification program requires candidates to enroll in a university/college preparation program. Candidates must complete nine credits per year to maintain certification. Institutions of higher education must provide flexible and accelerated pedagogical training to teachers in the Intern program.
Once candidates in the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) program have earned the Passport to Teaching credential, they may apply for the Temporary Teaching Permit. Under this permit candidates complete two continuing education seminars/workshops and two graduate-level education pedagogy courses.
The state requires alternate route providers of a Teacher Intern Program to offer a minimum of one classroom observation each month. ABCTE candidates receive mentor support.
The intern certificate is valid for three years after which candidates are eligible for a standard license. ABCTE candidates complete the program in two years and may apply for a standard license.
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 program completion in less than two years.
While ABCTE candidates qualify for standard certification in two years, Pennsylvania should consider shortening the length of time it takes a Teacher Intern to earn standard certification. The route should allow candidates to earn full certification no later than the end of the second year of teaching.
Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers.
While Pennsylvania is commended for requiring all new teachers to work with a mentor, there are insufficient guidelines indicating that the mentoring program is structured for new teacher success. Effective induction 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.
Pennsylvania recognized the factual accuracy of NCTQ's analysis but noted that legislative changes will provide more flexibility for second-career professionals to become teachers.