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.
Vermont offers the Peer Review program, an alternate route program run through the state's department of education. The state also authorizes other providers to offer additional alternate route programs based on a set of state requirements.
Coursework Requirements: Vermont provides minimal requirements on both the nature and quantity of the coursework that its alternate route programs must provide to candidates.
The state merely requires that alternate route programs must ensure "that candidates have the necessary content and pedagogical knowledge to help all students learn and to create learning experiences that make the content area accessible and meaningful for learners." Vermont further requires that programs systematically evaluate candidates' knowledge and performance to monitor the progress of their candidates and inform programmatic improvements.
There are no coursework requirements associated with Vermont's Peer Review. After candidates are accepted into the program, they attend a Peer Review Clinic during which they are provided an overview of the Peer Review process. Candidates then apply for an initial license based on a portfolio review; portfolios must demonstrate a candidate's ability to meet the general requirements for an initial license, Vermont's Core Teaching Standards, endorsement knowledge and performance standards, as well as any additional requirements based on the candidate's intended teaching area.
Induction Support: Vermont does not outline induction support that must be provided to its alternate route candidates.
Supervised Practice Teaching Requirements: Vermont requires that all preparation programs including its alternate route providers ensure that candidates participate in "high-quality field experiences where candidates demonstrate effective teaching and take responsibility for student learning." This does not ensure that alternate route candidates participate in a supervised teaching experience during their preparation.
Vermont's Peer Review candidates must show evidence of at least 13 consecutive weeks of student teaching or an equivalent learning experience. An equivalent learning experience is defined as having a substantial amount of supervised experiences working with students in the endorsement area.
Vermont Code of Rules, Agency 22, Chapter 010, Section 5332, 5922 Vermont Agency of Education, Peer Review- Alternative Route to Licensure: http://education.vermont.gov/educator-quality/become-a-vermont-educator/alternative-route Vermont’s Alternative Licensure Program Peer Review Program Handbook: http://education.vermont.gov/sites/aoe/files/documents/edu-educator-quality-peer-review-handbook.pdf
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Vermont should articulate guidelines regarding the nature and amount of coursework required of candidates in all of its alternate route programs. Requirements should be manageable given the time constraints of a novice teacher and contribute to the immediate needs of new teachers. Appropriate coursework should include grade-level or subject-level seminars, methodology in the content area, classroom management, assessment and scientifically based early reading instruction. However well-intentioned, any course that is not fundamentally practical and immediately necessary should be eliminated as a requirement.
Ensure a strong induction experience for new teachers.
Vermont should establish guidelines that require all alternate route programs provide sufficient induction programs that are structured for new teacher success. Such guidelines should provide for effective induction strategies, such as 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.
While Vermont is commended for requiring Peer Review candidates to complete a student teaching experience, the state should ensure that all alternate route candidates are provided with a practice teaching opportunity prior to their placement in the classroom.
Vermont recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.