ARL options

11 Jan New ARL options bring more teachers into CCSD

People interested in joining the Clark County School District (CCSD) as a teacher now have more options than ever, thanks to the addition of two newly approved Alternative Route to Licensure (ARL) programs. Nevada Teachers of Tomorrow and iteachNEVADA are the latest additions to the roster of ARL programs approved by the Commission on Professional Standards (COPS). According to the CCSD Human Resources Unit, both of these programs offer something unique to prospective teachers.

CCSD Employee Onboarding and Development Director Jennifer Varrato said, “What makes iteachNEVADA and Nevada Teachers of Tomorrow different than other approved ARL programs is that each offers a stand-alone, completely online program. Most of the other programs are operated by actual colleges or universities, which means the programs are tied to college course work.”

ARL programs provide unique opportunities for individuals with bachelor’s degrees in areas other than education to enter the teaching profession. Once hired and earning a salary (with benefits), they are in a better position to offset the costs associated with obtaining full licensure, such as coursework and testing. Out of the nearly 1,700 teachers hired for the current school year, 465 came through an ARL program.

Online ARL programs, said Varrato, are becoming increasingly popular among aspiring teachers across the nation. People can do the work on their own schedules while continuing with their current jobs, as opposed to the traditional method which requires four years of schooling prior to becoming a teacher. Varrato noted that the online option offered by organizations such as Nevada Teachers of Tomorrow and iteachNEVADA is open to not only Nevada residents but also people in other states, as long as they plan to teach in Nevada.

The only other exclusively online program available to aspiring Nevada teachers, said Varrato, is the one offered by Western Governor’s University (WGU), which obtained COPS approval in 2015. She said, “Some colleges and universities have a hybrid online option, but they still have a face-to-face requirement.”

While Varrato welcomes the newest ARL providers, she emphasizes that all of the state-approved programs are viable options. This includes CCSD’s own ARL program, which was started in 1994 and approved by the state in 2014. “The advantage of coming through our program is that it offers the lowest cost in terms of getting your conditional license. And because we are with the school district, there is no upfront college course work. Our program is completely designed based on what a first-year teacher needs.” Varrato added, “We are also very much in tune with the CCSD application and hiring process, so we can provide valuable counsel and advice to our ARL candidates.”

Varrato said, “All of the state-approved ARL programs are listed on the NDOE website.” While CCSD recruits for its program, it also does the same for other programs as well. “We want to help people find the ARL program that’s the best fit for their time frame, schedule or whatever other considerations there may be. They can go through any program they choose.”

The trend toward ARL versus traditional programs is being seen across the nation. Varrato said, “Nevada doesn’t have enough traditionally trained teachers coming to us from colleges and universities. ARL addresses this need by increasing the pipeline of people coming into the profession.”