48 States Have Alternate Route for Teachers, Survey Finds

By Debra Viadero — August 01, 1990 3 min read

Nearly every state has created an “alternate route” for college graduates who want to become teachers without undergoing a traditional teacher-training program, a new study by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education indicates.

According to the study, 48 states reported having some kind of alternate-route program for teachers that leads either to permanent or temporary certification.

Six states established such programs in the first half of 1990, and 10 others expect to address the topic later this year. Similar proposals have been rejected by policymakers in four other states this year, however.

Some of the alternate-route programs have existed for years, the report noted, but under another label.

“Although many politicians continue to call for the development of alternative-certification programs, these data show that many such programs already exist,” said Janice Weaver, the association’s president and dean of the college of education at Murray State University.

The findings--and Ms. Weaver’s interpretation of them--contrast4with those in another recent study on the subject by C. Emily Feistritzer, director of the National Center for Education Information, a private research firm. Released several weeks earlier, that federally funded study indicated that, while 33 states report having some type of alternative process for certifying teachers, those programs produce very few teachers. (See Education Week, June 20, 1990.)

Definitions Vary

Directors of both studies attributed the statistical discrepancy in part to the wide range of definitions of alternative certification.

For example, in both surveys states reported having alternative-licensing programs that were, in fact, emergency-certification programs.

Issued when certified teachers are unavailable, emergency programs8require little or no education training. In many cases, those credentials cannot be renewed unless the prospective teacher submits a plan for completing a formal teacher-preparation program.

“A bunch of states are calling whatever they already have in place alternative certification,” acknowledged Penelope M. Earley, senior director of aacte and director of the study. “I don’t know whether it’s a dramatic growth or not.”

Supported in part by the Ford Foundation, the aacte survey is part of a wide-ranging study conducted by the group’s State Issues Clearinghouse twice each year. The survey also examined state policies on teaching-standards boards, state-level efforts to recruit more members of minority groups into the profession, and state policies specifying the kinds of classroom experiences beginning teachers should have.

It indicates that nontraditional routes to licensure were adopted this year in Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, and Oklahoma. Officials in 10 other states said they expect policymakers to take up such proposals in the second half of the year.

Only Maine, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia do not have a board or other formal body that sets or recommends standards for the teaching profession, according to the report. Although most state boards act in only an advisory capacity, five states--California, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Oregon--have created autonomous panels.

Other Findings

Bills to establish independent standards boards have been introduced in 10 other states, according to the report.

“There had been a 10-year hiatus in any movement on teacher-standards boards,” Ms. Earley said. “Now, we’re seeing a lot more activity along those lines.”

Ms. Earley said the report also documents growth in state-level efforts to draw more members of minority groups to teaching. Eleven states, for example, have programs that encourage minority high-school students to consider a career in teaching.

California, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia have teacher-recruitment programs aimed at paraprofessionals--many of whom are minorities. And four states have programs designed to recruit minority teachers from college campuses.

In addition, 13 states offer future teachers scholarships or forgivable loans for which minority students might be given some preference.

Copies of the study, “Teacher Education Policy in the States: A 50-State Survey of Legislative and Administrative Actions,” are available for $25 each, plus $2 for shipping and handling, by writing Brenda Albert at aacte, One Dupont Circle, Suite 610, Washington, D.C. 20036-2412.

A version of this article appeared in the August 01, 1990 edition of Education Week as 48 States Have Alternate Route for Teachers, Survey Finds