Alternate Routes Policy
The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide efficient preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers through targeted and manageable coursework, as well as supervised practice teaching opportunities and intensive induction support that includes mentorship. This goal has been revised since 2017.
Pennsylvania offers two alternate routes to certification: Teacher Intern Certification and American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE).
Practice Teaching: The state requires Teacher Intern Certification candidates to participate in Field Experiences and Internship to practice working with diverse populations and various school settings prior to the supervised classroom teaching experience begins. Field experiences allow teacher candidates to observe, practice, and apply program principles and theories to classroom practice under the supervision of education program faculty. However, it is not required that field experiences include a supervised practice teaching experience that occurs prior to the candidate becoming the teacher of record.
Induction Support: ABCTE candidates must participate in a 12-week mentoring program through Point Park University. Candidates are observed four times during the program and are provided written feedback. Candidates also complete four required seminar assignments during the teaching experience.
Alternative program candidates are mentored through their student teaching or Intern year, including a classroom teaching experience under the supervision of a well-trained mentor. The program must include a minimum of one classroom observation each month during the candidates first year in the classroom. Teacher Intern Certification programs may include an induction.
Manageable Coursework: Alternate program providers are required to meet the same expectations and rigor as a traditional program provider. All providers must meet the same competencies.
Candidates in Pennsylvania's ABCTE program must complete two graduate level courses (six hours) through Point Park University within the first year of teaching.
Pennsylvania's Teacher Intern Certification program requires candidates to enroll in a university/college preparation program. Candidates must complete nine credits or 270 hours per year to maintain certification. Institutions of higher education must provide flexible and accelerated pedagogical and professional training to teachers in the Intern program.
Targeted Coursework: Pennsylvania's Teacher Intern Certification is designed with "accelerated pedagogical training" to supplement the candidate's content area in which they received their degree. The Professional Core courses are centered around child and adolescent development and include learning methods to deliver instruction to diverse learners in inclusive settings.
ABCTE program candidates are highly recommended to fulfill their coursework requirements by completing courses in special education and inclusive practices and educational methods.
22 Pennsylvania Code 49.13; .91 22 Pennsylvania Code 354.25 Pennsylvania Department of Education, Alternative Program Providers: http://www.education.pa.gov/Teachers%20-%20Administrators/Certification%20Preparation/Pages/Alternative-Program-Providers.aspx#tab-1 Pennsylvania Department of Education, Instructional Intern Certification: http://www.education.pa.gov/Documents/Teachers-Administrators/Certifications/Frequently%20Asked%20Questions/Intern%20Program.pdf http://www.education.pa.gov/Documents/Teachers-Administrators/Certification%20Preparation%20Programs/Framework%20Guidelines%20and%20Rubrics/Teacher%20Intern%20Certification%20Program%20Specific%20Program%20Guidelines.pdf American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, Pennsylvania: https://www.americanboard.org/pennsylvania/ Point Park University, ABCTE Program: http://www.pointpark.edu/Academics/Schools/SchoolofArtsandSciences/Departments/Education/ABCTE http://www.education.pa.gov/Documents/Teachers-Administrators/Certification%20Preparation%20Programs/Framework%20Guidelines%20and%20Rubrics/Field%20and%20Student%20Teaching%20Competencies%202012%2002.pdf
Require practice teaching opportunities.
Pennsylvania should require that all alternate routes establish practice teaching opportunities for novice teachers as part of their preparation prior to becoming teachers of record. This corresponds directly to the student teaching experience for traditionally prepared educators and better prepares candidates to be successful in the classroom.
Pennsylvania was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.
Teachers who enter the profession through alternate routes report lower levels of self-efficacy compared to beginning teachers who enter through traditional teacher preparation programs. Alternate route teachers are likely to be especially concerned about their ability to effectively deliver instruction, manage the classroom, and plan lessons. Most new teachers—regardless of their preparation—find themselves overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the job. This is especially true for alternate route teachers, who may have had considerably less classroom exposure than traditionally prepared teachers. States must ensure that alternate routes do not leave new teachers to "sink or swim" on their own when they begin teaching.
It is critical that all alternate routes provide at least a brief student teaching or other supervised practice experience for candidates before they enter their own classrooms. Field work and exposure to real classrooms offers a scaffolded opportunity for prospective new teachers to gain practical experience. Across areas of instruction, student teachers feel significantly better prepared after completing student teaching. Access to highly-effective rated cooperating teachers in student teaching experiences results in pronounced positive outcomes for students of aspiring teachers.
Additionally, all new teachers need comprehensive and ongoing professional development even after they become "teachers of record." Effective induction programs go beyond the basics of new teacher orientation and may include comprehensive supports, such as mentorship, common planning time with other teachers, reduced teaching course loads, and assistance from a classroom aide. Access to a mentor teacher with subject-area expertise and dedicated common collaboration time with other teachers of the same subject area are cited as the two most effective factors in reducing first-year turnover and improving job satisfaction and commitment. Robust and consistent mentorship not only helps new teachers feel supported, but also improves retention and student outcomes. Importantly, students' academic performance increases when they're taught by teachers who are highly engaged in induction programs with mentorship, as compared to students of teachers who are not engaged in such programs. Induction programs should require new teachers, especially those who enter the profession through alternate routes with limited preparation, to collaborate with experienced and effective mentors who can guide them through what can often be a challenging transition into a new career.
Alternate routes must provide practical and meaningful coursework that is sensitive to a new teacher's workload and stress level. State policies that require alternate route programs to "backload" large amounts of traditional education coursework prevent the emergence of real alternatives to traditional preparation. This issue is especially important given the large proportion of alternate route teachers who complete required coursework in the evenings and on weekends while also teaching. 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 professional competencies such as classroom management techniques, instructional methods, or curriculum delivery. Alternate route participants' primary concern as novice teachers is managing the classroom, which should be a focus in required coursework. Furthermore, the curriculum for teacher training programs must be aligned to what beginner teachers experience in the classroom. Clear connections between theory and best teaching practices enable coursework to be directly translated into the classroom.
 Forsbach-Rothman, T., Margolin, M., & Bloom, D. (2007). Student Teachers and Alternate Route Teachers' Sense of Efficacy and Views of Teacher Preparation. Journal of the National Association for Alternative Certification,2(1), 29-41. Retrieved from http://jnaac.com/index.php/JNAAC/article/view/45/33
 Greenberg, J., Walsh, K., & McKee, A. (2014). Teacher Prep Review: A review of the nation's teacher preparation programs.Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Teacher_Prep_Review_2014_Report
 Darling-Hammond, L. (2014). Strengthening Clinical Preparation: The Holy Grail of Teacher Education. Peabody Journal of Education,89(4), 547-561. doi:https://doi-org.proxy.library.georgetown.edu/10.1080/0161956X.2014.939009
 Goldhaber, D., Krieg, J., & Theobald, R. (2019). Leveraging the student-teaching experience to train tomorrow's great teachers. Brown Center Chalkboard. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2019/05/20/leveraging-the-student-teaching-experience-to-train-tomorrows-great-teachers/.
 For a further review of the research on new teacher induction, see: Rogers, M., Lopez, A., Lash, A., Schaffner, M., Shields, P., & Wagner, M. (2004). Review of research on the impact of beginning teacher induction on teacher quality and retention. Retrieved from http://www.newteacher.com/pdf/ResearchontheImpactofInduction.pdf
 Wong, H. K. (2004). Induction Programs That Keep New Teachers Teaching and Improving. NASSP Bulletin, 88(638), 41-58. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f71d/e558a5e10724e31ba26d477057ef0272110b.pdf
 Ingersoll, R. M. (2012, May 16). Beginning Teacher Induction: What the Data Tell us. Education Week. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/05/16/kappan_ingersoll.h31.html
 Brody, S. (2017, November). A bright spot for PD—new teacher induction that works [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.nctq.org/blog/A-bright-spot-for-PDnew-teacher-induction-that-works
 There is no shortage of research that indicates the students of new teachers who receive strong mentorship have higher scores than those of new teachers with minimal to no or weak mentorship. See: Best Practices in Teacher and Administrator Induction Programs. (2016). California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. Retrieved from http://ccsesa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Best-Practices-in-Teacher-and-Administrator-Induction-Programs.pdf
 Constantine, J., Player, D., Silva, T., Hallgren, K., Grider, M., & Deke, J. (2009). An evaluation of teachers trained through different routes to certification. Final Report. NCEE 2009-4043. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED504313.pdf
 Walsh, K., & Jacobs, S. (2007). Alternative certification isn't alternative. Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED498382.pdf
 O'Connora, E. A., Malow, M. S., & Bisland, B. M. (2011). Mentorship and instruction received during training: Views of alternatively certified teachers. Educational Review,63(2), 219-232. doi:10.1080/00131911.2010.537312