Alternate Routes Policy
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.
Wyoming does not have any state-approved alternate licensing programs. Previously, the state's Professional Teaching Standards Board's (PTSB) formally recognized the Montana-based Northern Plains Transition to Teaching alternate route program; however, this program is no longer offered. The PTSB site now states that out-of-state alternate route programs may be recognized by Wyoming if the program meets the state's traditional preparation program approval standards.
Professional Standards Teaching Board, Alternative Licensing Program: http://ptsb.state.wy.us/EducationResources/AlternativeLicensingPrograms/tabid/87/Default.aspx
Establish an alternate route to licensure.
Wyoming should establish an alternate route to licensure. While the state does recognize and accept out-of-state alternate route programs, it would be best if the state creates its own alternate route policy and programs to lessen confusion and set the state standard for alternate route quality. This route should be flexible regarding the needs of nontraditional candidates in order to broaden and deepen the available pool of teachers.
Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route programs.
Wyoming 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, and scientifically based early reading instruction.
Establish induction experience for new teachers.
Wyoming should establish an induction experience to ensure that new teachers are sufficiently prepared to be successful. This induction experience should provide 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.
Require opportunities to practice teach.
In addition to intensive induction support, Wyoming should provide its candidates with a practice teaching opportunity prior to their placement in the classroom.
Wyoming was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced 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.