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For Release: March 4, 2008
DOE Releases Alternate Route Certification Study
New Jersey’s Alternate Route (AR) teacher certification program has allowed school districts to find more candidates for hard-to-fill positions and has brought more diversity to the teaching profession, according to a report on a study of the program conducted by The College of New Jersey and released recently by the Department of Education.
The report also notes that the methods by which novice teachers receive classroom training and mentoring should be strengthened and made more consistent throughout the state. It is available on line here: http://www.nj.gov/education/educators/license/research/.
“This study contains very valuable information that will help us in our ongoing efforts to improve the alternate route teacher program and attract even more people to the teaching profession,” said Education Commissioner Lucille E. Davy.
New Jersey’s AR program was launched in 1985 to help increase the quality and quantity of the teaching pool by attracting talented liberal arts graduates and people from other fields seeking to make a career change to education. Candidates are required to hold a bachelor’s degree and pass a Praxis test in the subject area they wish to teach in order to receive a provisional license.
Once employed, they complete a mentor-guided induction period and receive 200 hours of formal instruction in subjects such as teaching techniques, classroom management, lesson development and student motivation before receiving a permanent teaching license.
Approximately 40 percent of the newly-hired teachers in New Jersey are AR teachers.
The two year study included questionnaires and interviews with more than 1,400 AR teachers, AR instructors, AR mentors and district administrators. It was funded by a US Department of Education Teacher Quality Enhancement grant.
Among the findings in the report:
The study also found that there was a high degree of inconsistency from district to district in the quality of the mentoring experience that AR teachers receive.
Only 46 percent of the teachers rated their mentors as “very effective.” Many expressed concerns about their own abilities to deal with some of the more complex aspects of teaching – such as dealing with students with limited English proficiency or emotional or learning disabilities, interpreting and implementing Individualized Education or 504 (special education) plans, and interpreting and using standardized test scores – even after receiving their 200 hours of outside training.
Administrators surveyed said that satisfaction with AR teachers’ performance was higher at the high school and middle school levels; many AR teachers at the elementary level seemed to require a better understanding of child development issues in order to increase their effectiveness.
The administrators also recognized that while all novice teachers need support, AR teachers tended to need more assistance, particularly in the areas of classroom management, instructional planning and accommodating students with special needs.
Based on recommendations in the report, DOE officials plan to implement the following additional steps in order to strengthen the AR program and improve the department’s overall teacher recruitment efforts: