Alternative Teaching Certification Programs in New Mexico

Alternatively licensed teachers are a valuable part of the educational landscape in New Mexico. That's according to a 2009 report prepared by Dr. Peter Winograd, an educational policy advisor in the office of the governor. The report contends that alternative licensure helps New Mexico address critical teacher shortages while also acting as a "policy lever" for future education initiatives.

Indeed, the New Mexico Public Education Department has demonstrated its support for alternative licensure by creating two options for aspiring teachers with a bachelor's degree but without traditional teacher preparation.

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Under both options, candidates are issued a three-year, non-renewable intern license that allows them to teach while completing their credential requirements. Once they have received their intern license and obtained a teaching position, candidates can choose to fulfill these requirements in one of two ways.

The first option is online portfolio alternative licensure or OPAL. OPAL is an online collection of teacher data (including lesson plans, student work, photos, videos, and evaluations) that is used to determine whether an intern teacher should qualify for a regular teacher license.

The second option is through an approved alternative teacher certification program at a local college or university. Exact program requirements vary by institution.

One to consider is the Central New Mexico Community College's fast-track program for teacher certification in elementary, secondary and special education endorsements areas. Courses are held in the evenings and participants can complete the program in as little as three to four semesters. The college regularly hosts information sessions for candidates interested in learning more about the various alternative licensure pathways.

Candidates who are interested in the OPAL route but would like outside support during the process might consider New Mexico's Transition to Teaching program. It can help candidates assemble a successful portfolio. The program also offers online services and face-to-face workshops to assist new teachers with their classroom responsibilities.

Schools in New Mexico:

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