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.
Rhode Island offers an alternate route to certification through its Alternate Route Preliminary Certificate. Individuals in alternative route to certification programs will hold an alternative route program certificate that allows them to serve as the teacher of record for at least one school year before gaining eligibility for a professional certificate.
Practice Teaching: Rhode Island requires that all Alternate Route Preliminary Certificate candidates participate in a preservice field experience for a minimum of five weeks. This preservice includes, but is not limited to, instruction in grade-level appropriate pedagogy and classroom management. However, it is not clear that this field experience involves practice teaching.
Induction Support: Rhode Island requires that Alternate Route Preliminary Certificate candidates are provided with a district-assigned mentor who is responsible for modeling effective practice and providing feedback focused on improving performance. Program and district personnel are expected to provide candidates with on-going feedback, field-based support, and supervision aimed at supporting candidates' development.
Manageable Coursework: Candidates are required to participate in seminars and courses throughout the first year of working as teachers of record, although no additional guidelines are provided regarding the quantity of coursework.
Targeted Coursework: The state's alternate certification program approval process is based on how well programs meet the state's five standards for educator preparation, including the standards for professional knowledge. This includes preparation on content knowledge, pedagogy, and standards-driven instruction. The required preservice experience for alternate route teachers includes instruction in grade-level appropriate pedagogy, classroom management, and the statutes and regulations governing public education and students' rights.
Rhode Island Department of Education, Board of Regents Standards for Alternative Route to Certification Programs: http://www.ride.ri.gov/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Teachers-and-Administrators-Excellent-Educators/Educator-Certification/Becoming-an-Educator/Standards-for-Alternate-Route-to-Certification-Programs-FINAL-BoR-Adopted_2009.pdf Regulations Governing the Certification of Educators in Rhode Island 8.2.1 & 126.96.36.199 https://risos-apa-production-public.s3.amazonaws.com/BOE/REG_10333_20181218082001.pdf Rhode Island Department of Education, Rhode Island Standards for Educator Preparation: http://www.ride.ri.gov/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Teachers-and-Administrators-Excellent-Educators/Educator-Certification/Becoming-an-Educator/RIPA_Standards_2013.pdf
Require practice teaching opportunities.
Rhode Island 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.
Limit coursework for new teachers.
Rhode Island should ensure that all novice alternate route teachers have manageable coursework while teaching. Given the demands on a novice teacher's time, course requirements should not exceed three credit hours in the spring and fall and six credit hours in the summer.
Rhode Island 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