All but four states in the nation now permit teachers to come into the profession through an "alternate route," compared to only a few 30 years ago. Alternate routes into the classroom have grown so acceptable that about one in five teachers now enters the profession through one of these programs, which offer some real benefits to the profession. Nearly double the percentage of teacher candidates in alternate route programs identify as Black and more than double identify as Latino as compared to traditional teacher preparation programs (15% vs. 8%, and 13% vs. 5%, respectively). Additionally, alternate route candidates often fill jobs in hard-to-staff subjects and schools.
When it comes to requirements for alternate routes, states must balance between upholding standards for educators regardless of how they come into the profession with providing flexibility by differentiating the requirements they place on these programs from traditional pathways. Since alternate route candidates typically become a teacher of record immediately or shortly after they enter into a program, establishing strong entrance requirements and specifying essential supports are important levers states should exercise.
This brief explores how states fare in the balancing act between appropriate oversight and flexibility.
Note: In compliance with state guidelines during the pandemic, many alternate route programs have modified admissions and preparation requirements and policies. In some instances, testing requirements have been temporarily suspended for enrollment and instruction has moved online. Much of the data for this databurst was collected prior to the pandemic and therefore does not reflect COVID-related policy changes. For more information on how states are addressing the impact of COVID on the teaching profession, visit our COVID-19 response hub.