The Alternative Teacher Preparation Program Fact Sheet
Alternative teacher preparation (ATP) programs in New York State are equivalent to traditional teacher preparation programs in content, but are offered in a different format. Through collaborative agreements between teacher education institutions and school districts, people who already hold at least a bachelor's degree may enroll in an ATP program at an institution of higher education and will upon completion of the program, be recommended for initial or professional teacher certification. Upon completion of the program's introductory component where candidates receive required pedagogical and content instruction, fieldwork experience, and successfully pass the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test (LAST) and Content Specialty Test (CST), in their certificate areas, candidates are issued a three-year New York State Transitional B teaching certificate. Each candidate who successfully completes the introductory component is eligible to be hired in a New York State school as a fully certified teacher. Over the next two-to-three years, the candidates teach under the supervision of school-based mentors and college supervisors while completing the ATP program. The goal of ATP programs is to increase the number of qualified teachers in difficult-to-staff subject and geographic areas.
In 1999 the Board of Regents adopted higher standards for teacher education programs in New York State, requiring all teacher preparation programs to be reviewed and reregistered in 2000 and 2001. Due to the great need for teachers it became necessary to adapt a certain programs to prepare teachers in a shorter timeframe without risking the integrity of the higher standards.
During the 2001-2002 academic year, approximately 13,000 people who did not meet the preparation standards were teaching in New York State with temporary licenses, to teach, some with little or no experience or knowledge of teaching content or pedagogy. In the spring of 2002, New York City employed 12,400 teachers with only temporary licenses and upstate districts employed an additional 500. The State Education Department's June 2001 publication "Teacher Supply and Demand Workbook" identified mathematics, career and technical education, languages other than English, the sciences, and school media specialist as shortage areas across New York State. New York City identified shortages for the 2003-2004 school year in special education, bilingual education, bilingual special education, mathematics, and the sciences.
In 1999, the Board of Regents voted to terminate the issuance of temporary licenses effective September 2003. This was followed by the requirement of the Federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 that only certified teachers may be hired after the first day of the 2002-03 school year, with every teacher certified in the classes being taught by the end of the 2005-06 school year. By eliminating temporary licenses, there was an immediate need for 13,000 certified teachers in New York State by fall 2003.
Meeting the Need
Eliminating shortages and temporary licenses is being accomplished through ATP programs offered by accredited New York State teacher education institutions working with local school districts. All ATP programs meet the same requirements as traditional teacher preparation programs and provide a built-in mechanism of new teacher induction. Since the first ATP was registered in 2001 through a partnership with the City University of New York and the New York City Department of Education, all temporary licensed teachers in New York State have been replaced with certified teachers. New York State continues to face shortages in high-need subject areas and certain locations in the State, and ATPs continue to provide a quality preparation method for meeting the need. In the words of one school administrator, teachers prepared through ATP are "comparable to any other first-year teacher, with the same types of concerns." Research studies comparing traditionally prepared teachers and teachers prepared through ATP programs indicate that alternative route teachers bring expertise annd quality teaching to their classrooms and contribute to student gains in test scores similiar to that of their traditionally prepared colleagues.