Preparation for the Classroom: Mississippi

2017 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy

Goal

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.

Meets a small part

Analysis of Mississippi's policies

Mississippi offers four alternate routes to certification: Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), Mississippi Alternate Path to Quality Teachers (MAPQT), Teach Mississippi Institute (TMI), and American Board Certification for Teacher Excellence (ABCTE).

Coursework Requirements: Mississippi previously provided much more detail regarding the nature of coursework required for most of its alternate routes, but now minimal guidelines are provided. MAT candidates must complete six hours of preteaching coursework requirements from an approved MAT program. The MAPQT program requires candidates to participate in a 90-hour training program. TMI candidates must complete an intensive eight-week, nine-semester-hour summer program; coursework for this program includes instruction in education, effective teaching strategies, classroom management, state curriculum requirements, planning and instruction, instructional methods and pedagogy, using test results to improve instruction. ABCTE candidates must complete training in one of the following: the MAPQT three-week summer training, an eight-week online training or six hours of initial graduate university courses.

Induction Support: Mississippi requires that all of its alternate route programs provide a one-year internship that includes mentoring. After a candidate receives a provisional license, Mississippi requires that candidates participate in a one-year beginning teacher mentoring and induction program.

Supervised Practice Teaching Requirements: Mississippi does not require that its alternate routes ensure that candidates participate in a supervised practice teaching opportunity during their training.

Citation

Recommendations for Mississippi

Establish coursework guidelines for all alternate route preparation programs.
Mississippi should ensure that coursework requirements are of adequate breadth 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.  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 Mississippi should be commended for requiring that all of its alternate route programs provide mentoring and other induction supports, it is unclear if the mentoring programs are structured to adequately meet the needs of new teachers. The state should strengthen its induction experience by requiring: 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.
In addition to intensive induction support, Mississippi should also provide its candidates with a practice teaching opportunity prior to their placement in the classroom.

State response to our analysis

Mississippi recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

How we graded

5B: Preparation for the Classroom 

  • Practice Teaching: The state should require a supervised practice-teaching experience.
  • Induction: The state should require that all new teachers receive intensive induction support.
  • Manageable Coursework: The state should ensure that the amount of coursework it either requires or allows is manageable for a novice teacher. Anything exceeding 12 credit hours may be counterproductive, placing too great a burden on the teacher. This calculation is premised on no more than six credit hours in the summer, three credit hours in the spring, and three credit hours in the fall.
  • Targeted Coursework: The state should ensure that all coursework requirements are targeted to the immediate needs of the new teacher (e.g., seminars with other grade-level teachers, classroom management techniques, training in a particular curriculum, reading instruction).
Preparation for the Classroom
The total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Full credit: The state will earn the full point if all four elements are required for all alternate route programs.
  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if three elements are required for all alternate route programs.
  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if two elements are required for at least some of the state's alternate route programs.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if one element is required for at least one of the state's alternate route programs.

Research rationale

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]


[1] 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
[2] 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
[3] 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
[4] 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