The Office of Alternative Licensure (OAL) is housed in the College of Education and Allied Professions (CEAP) at Western Carolina University. Established in June 2008 by the Dean of the College of Education, the OAL is designed to better serve alternative licensure students, program coordinators in the Colleges of Education and Allied Professions, Arts & Sciences and Fine & Performing Arts, and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) by creating one office to support all CEAP alternative licensure programs. The Office of Alternative Licensure supports academic programs to help them meet their enrollment needs.
The Office of Alternative Licensure assists with the implementation of UNC-Tomorrow Recommendation 4.3.1 and 4.3.2 Quality and Quantity of Public School Teachers: UNC should improve the quantity, quality, and geographic distribution of public school teachers and UNC should help address the shortage of science and math teachers, especially in rural areas.
To this end, the mission of OAL is to recruit candidates into Western’s alternative licensure programs (with special attention to the recruitment of high-need areas: math, science, middle grades, special education, and other licensure areas as identified by LEAs), answer inquiries, and process applications. The OAL also initiates contact with and solicits applications from current 1st year lateral-entry teachers; serves as the primary contact for LEAs and for candidates who have served or are serving in the military. In addition, the Office of Alternative Licensure tracks and systematically follows up with prospects, applicants, candidates, program completers, and employed lateral-entry teachers.
Strategic Goal 1 – Recruitment (UNC-Tomorrow Recommendation 4.3.1 and 4.3.2; WCU Teacher Education Enrollment and Recruitment Plan) Recruitment of alternative licensure students contributes to the implementation of UNC-Tomorrow Recommendation 4.3.1 and 4.3.2 Quality and Quantity of Public School Teachers: UNC should improve the quantity, quality, and geographic distribution of public school teachers and UNC should help address the shortage of science and math teachers, especially in rural areas.
WCU has a comprehensive Teacher Recruitment Plan with ongoing action plans targeting an increase in the number of teachers produced that is consistent with the UNC System teacher recruitment plan. The Alternative Pathways Advisory Board serves in an advisory capacity to provide suggestions for increasing the number of students enrolled in alternative licensure programs.
Strategic Goal 2 – Retention (Stewards of Place; WCU Teacher Education Recruitment Plan) Staffing schools with adequate numbers of qualified teachers is a WNC public school problem. Beginning teachers, in particular, have extremely high attrition rates during the first five years of teaching—and turnover for this group is as much as 40-50% in some areas (Darling-Hammond, 1997; Ingersoll, 2001). Because of teacher shortages, (especially in the high-need areas of math, science, middle grade, and SPED) school systems have turned to alternative-entry teachers. The Office of Alternative Licensure is committed to the Stewards of Place model and collaborates with our public school partners to identify strategies for preparing alternative licensure students for the classroom.
WCU has a comprehensive Teacher Recruitment Plan with ongoing action plans targeting an increase in the number of teachers produced that is consistent with the UNC System teacher recruitment plan. The Office of Alternative Licensure supports academic programs to meet their enrollment goals. The Alternative Pathways Advisory Board serves in an advisory capacity to provide suggestions for retaining the number of students enrolled in alternative licensure programs until they have completed the program and are recommended for a license.
Strategic Goal 3 – Research (UNC-Tomorrow 22.214.171.124, the Boyer Model of Scholarship, Quality Enhancement Plan) The Boyer Model of Scholarship provides research opportunities in the scholarship of application for the Director of the Office of Alternative Licensure (OAL) to collaborate with Western Carolina University faculty members and students.
The OAL scholarly activity is focused on using evaluation data to sponsor and conduct research to determine the effects of alternative entry programs on new teacher retention and development. WNC beginning teachers, mentors, and administrators are surveyed online annually (2003–present). Dr. Lori Unruh, Assistant Professor in Psychology, collaborates with CSBT Director to analyze the annual survey data. They are currently looking more closely at the effects of induction programs on lateral entry and traditionally prepared teachers.
The Office of Alternative Licensure annually tracks retention of Western’s alternative-entry teachers. An online survey is planned for November 2008 to collect additional data from currently employed WCU alternative-entry teachers in an effort to identify factors that have contributed to their persistence in the profession.
The Office of Alternative Licensure collaborates with WNC public school partners and other state agencies to secure external funding. This process is mutually beneficial in that it “expands the learning and discovery functions” of WCU while enhancing the schools’ “capacity to address and resolve” the teacher recruitment and retention problem. Grant funding also provides applied research opportunities for university faculty members “to address critical policy issues…that affect the region and the State of North Carolina.”
View the complete 2005-2010 Office of Alternative Licensure Strategic Plan (PDF).