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.
Wisconsin authorizes programs to provide alternate certification under its Alternate Route Pathway requirements. The state operates nine different alternate route programs under this pathway. The state also offers a License Based on Equivalency (LBE) that offers another non-traditional route to licensure, as well as the Teacher Development Program, which gives school employees "who work closely to students" a pathway to obtain Initial Licensure.
Coursework requirements: Wisconsin does not provide guidelines about the nature or quantity of coursework for either of its alternate routes. There is no limit on the amount of coursework that can be required overall, nor on the amount of coursework a candidate can be required to take while also teaching. Candidates in either alternate route can be employed in school on an emergency permit or a professional teaching permit while they receive their alternate route preparation training.
Induction support: Wisconsin does not specify induction requirements for candidates in either alternate route. Although all beginning teachers on an initial license receive mentor support, Alternate Route Pathway and LBE candidates are not required to receive this support during their preparation and initial school placements while they teach on an emergency permit or professional teaching permit.
Supervised practice teaching requirements: Wisconsin requires that all teaching candidates seeking initial licensure, regardless of their route to entry, must complete student teaching consisting of full days for a full semester following the daily schedule and semester calendar of the cooperating school.
Wisconsin Administrative Code, PI 34.33(2); PI 34.195; PI 34.17 (2) & (3); PI 34.21; PI 34.34(11) Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Alternative Route Pathway: https://dpi.wi.gov/tepdl/pathways/alternative https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/related/acts/59.pdf https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/related/acts/59.pdf https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/118/19 Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Alternative Route Pathway overview: https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/tepdl/pdf/Alternative-Route-Pathway-Handout.pdf Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, License Based on Equivalency overview: https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/tepdl/pdf/LBE-Pathway-Handout.pdf
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Wisconsin should articulate guidelines regarding the nature and amount of coursework required of candidates. 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.
Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers.
Although Wisconsin requires that all beginning teachers on an initial license receive mentor support, the state should provide more explicit induction guidelines that ensure that alternate route candidates receive this support during their initial school placements while they teach on an emergency or professional teaching permit. Further, because it is unclear that the mentoring program is structured for new teacher success, Wisconsin should strengthen its induction experience by providing for: 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.
Wisconsin was helpful in providing facts necessary for 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.