Program Entry

Alternate Routes Policy

Program Entry

The state should require alternate routes to limit admission to candidates with strong academic backgrounds, while also being flexible to the needs of nontraditional candidates.This goal has been revised since 2017.

Best practices

Michigan sets a high bar for entry to alternative certification and is one of the only two states to earn a full point for this goal. Michigan requires programs to admit applicants with a minimum college GPA of 3.0 and requires all candidates to pass relevant subject-matter licensing tests prior to admission, which helps to ensure that candidates have the prerequisite content knowledge necessary to be successful in their alternative certification program and, ultimately, the classroom. Additionally, Michigan does not require alternate route candidates to have a major or other subject-specific coursework, allowing potential teachers to demonstrate their content knowledge and expertise through subject-matter licensing tests.

Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2020). Program Entry national results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/national/Program-Entry-93
Best practice 1

State

Meets goal 1

State

Nearly meets goal 7

States

Meets goal in part 8

States

Meets a small part of goal 24

States

Does not meet goal 10

States

State policy requires elementary alternate route candidates to pass an assessment that fully measures the science of reading.

2020
Figure details

All elementary alternate route candidates are required to pass an assessment that fully measures the science of reading. : AL, CA, CT, MD, MS, NC, TN, TX, VA, WA, WV

Only some elementary alternate route candidates are required to pass an assessment that fully measures the science of reading. : AR, FL, IN, NH, NM, PA, WI

Elementary alternate route candidates may be required to pass an assessment, but it omits some aspects of the science of reading. : CO, DC, KY, LA, MA, NJ, RI, SC, VT

No elementary alternate route candidates are required to pass an assessment that fully measures the science of reading.: AZ, DE, GA, HI, ID, IL, MI, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NV, NY, SD

State policy does not permit alternate route programs.: AK, IA, KS, ME, OH, OK, OR, UT, WY

Footnotes
IA: State policy does not permit alternate routes for elementary teachers.
KS: State policy does not permit alternate routes for elementary teachers.
MA: Candidates in Massachusetts have the option of meeting the reading test requirement by passing the Foundations of Reading or the MTEL Reading Specialist test. The Reading Specialist omits some aspects of the science of reading instruction.
ME: State policy does not permit alternate routes for elementary teachers.
OH: State policy does not permit alternate routes for elementary teachers.
OK: State policy does not permit alternate routes for elementary teachers.
TN: Teacher candidates in Tennessee must pass a test prior to renewing the practitioner license or advancing to the next license.

Do states require alternate routes to limit admission to candidates of strong academic standing?

2020
2017
Figure details

Yes. State requires all candidates to have a strong academic standing.: DC, DE, IL, MI, NJ, RI, VT

Partially. State requires some candidates to have a strong academic standing.: CT, IN, MD, MT, NY, PA, WA

No. State does not require candidates to have a strong academic standing.: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NM, NV, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WI, WV

Not applicable. No alternate routes offered.: AK, OR, UT, WY

Footnotes
AR: Only ATC, TFA, eStem Public Charter School Residency, and Prism Education Center Teacher Institute have GPA requirements. There are no GPA requirements for MAT, ABCTE, APPEL, or PPTL candidates.
DC: Exceptions to the minimum GPA for alternate route candidates in the District of Columbia are made for those with exceptional professional experience.
IN: GPA requirements vary by route.
MD: All alternative programs require candidates to have a GPA of at least 3.0 at the post-secondary level or a qualifying score on a basic skills assessment.
MT: 3.0 average cohort GPA
NC: Minimum GPA of 2.7 for individual applicants, as long as the minimum GPA of each cohort is 3.0.
NE: There are no GPA requirements listed for the Alternative Program Permit. The Transitional Teaching Permit requires applicants to have a minimum 2.75 GPA in content coursework to gain admission. Applicants must also have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, a Master's degree, or a passing score on the Praxis Core tests.
NH: All alternate routes require applicants to pass the Praxis Core or score at least in the 50th percentile on the SAT, ACT, or GRE. There is no minimum GPA for Alternative 3A and 4. Alternative 5 pathway applicants must have an overall 2.5 GPA, however, applicants who fail to meet this requirement may still qualify if the applicant meets all other requirements, has graduated more than five years earlier, and has occupational experience totaling more than five years directly related to the area to be taught.
NJ: Minimum 3.0 GPA; Applicants may still apply if they have at least a 2.75 GPA and achieve a score on a subject-matter exam that exceeds the passing score by at least 10 percent, or if they have at least a 2.75 GPA and are sponsored by a provisional training program prior to applying for a CE, so long as the applicant is employed when he or she participates in the CE educator preparation program. Applicants who fall into the latter exemption can only make up 10 percent of a CE program's accepted candidate cohort.
NV: Passing the Praxis Core is required for all candidates. Applicants have three alternatives to substitute passing the basic skills exam: a master's degree or higher that required the applicant to take the GRE for admission; 3.0 GPA and passing scores on the GRE; or a "B" average on a course of study approved by the state after the candidate failed to pass the basic skills exam.
NY: Candidates are required to have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA (or a positive recommendation from the offering institution). Candidates also need to meet a minimum score on the GRE or equivalent exam, set by the ATP institution.
OH: Minimum 2.5 GPA or master's degree with minimum GPA of 3.0
PA: ABCTE applicants do not have to demonstrate academic proficiency requirements via a GPA nor a test of academic proficiency, such as the SAT, ACT, or GRE.
SC: Minimum 2.5 GPA
TX: The overall GPA of each incoming class admitted by any preparation program, including alternate routes, may not be less than 3.0. Individual alternate route applicants must have a minimum GPA of at least 2.5 or at least 2.5 in the last 60 semester credit hours. Exceptions are permitted in "extraordinary circumstances" for 10 percent of an incoming candidate cohort for each preparation program if the candidate demonstrates evidence of exceptional work-experience achievements and passes a subject-matter exam.
UT: Utah's Alternative Routes to Licensure (ARL) and the Academic Pathway to Teaching (APT) are discontinued in 2020.
VT: Peer Review applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum grade "B".
WA: The average GPA for all new entrants to teacher preparation programs must be above 3.0 and no more than one-third of the program's candidates can have GPAs below 3.0.

What is the minimum required GPA for admission?

2020
2017
Figure details

3.0 or higher: DC, DE, IL, MD, MI, MT, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, WA

2.75-2.9: AL, KS, KY, MO, MS, NE, TN

2.5-2.7: AR, CT, FL, GA, IA, LA, NC, OH, OK, SC, TX, WV

No minimum GPA required: AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, IN, MA, ME, MN, ND, NH, NM, NV, SD, VA, WI

Not applicable. No alternate routes offered.: AK, OR, UT, WY

Footnotes
AL: Minimum overall GPA of at least 2.75 in undergraduate degree or a minimum overall GPA of at least 3.0 for an advanced degree (master's degree or higher)
AR: 2.7 GPA or 2.9 on last 60 hours for ATC candidates. 2.7 GPA for TFA, eStem Public Charter School Residency, and Prism Education Center Teacher Institute candidates. GPA requirements vary by Institution of Higher Education for MAT candidates. No GPA requirements listed for ABCTE, APPEL, nor PPTL candidates.
DC: Minimum 3.0 overall GPA or 3.25 GPA in the last 60 hours of coursework; lower GPA accepted for candidates with 5+ years of work experience
DE: Limited exceptions are made for ARTC candidates with GPAs between 2.75 and 2.99, when justified.
GA: minimum 3.0 cohort average GPA
IN: The Advanced Degree License programs do not require a minimum GPA nor a test of academic proficiency. Charter School Licensure requires applicants to have a GPA of 3.0. Career Specialist Permit applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA or successful completion of the CORE content licensure exam. T2T candidates must have either a 3.0 GPA, 2.5 GPA with 5 years professional work experience, or proof of passing the content licensure exam.
KY: Minimum required GPA varies by route. College Faculty Certification have no academic proficiency requirements.
LA: Post-baccalaureate teacher preparation programs may conditionally admit candidates with a GPA lower than 2.5. These candidates may be recommended for certification if they successfully complete an interview with the admissions officer, achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0 in post-baccalaureate program courses by the end of the candidate's first twelve credit hours, and demonstrate mastery of required competencies.
MD: All alternative programs require candidates to have a GPA of at least 3.0 at the post-secondary level or a qualifying score on a basic skills assessment.
MO: Innovative/Alternative and TAC candidates must possess minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher and content area and professional education GPA of 3.00 or higher. Doctoral Route and ABCTE candidates must possess cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher and content GPA or 3.00 or higher.
MS: Minimum GPA is 2.75 on content coursework or a passing score on the appropriate subject-matter exam as long as the alternate route program can ensure that the accepted cohort of candidates' collective GPA meets or exceeds a 3.0 on pre-major coursework.
MT: 3.0 average cohort GPA
NC: Minimum GPA of 2.7 for individual applicants, as long as the minimum GPA of each cohort is 3.0.
NE: There are no GPA requirements listed for the Alternative Program Permit. The Transitional Teaching Permit requires applicants to have a minimum 2.75 GPA in content coursework to gain admission. Applicants must also have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, a Master's degree, or a passing score on the Praxis Core tests.
NH: There is no minimum GPA for Alternative 3A and 4. Alternative 5 pathway applicants must have an overall 2.5 GPA, however, applicants who fail to meet this requirement may still qualify if the applicant meets all other requirements, has graduated more than five years earlier, and has occupational experience totaling more than five years directly related to the area to be taught.
NJ: Minimum 3.0 GPA; Applicants may still apply if they have at least a 2.75 GPA and achieve a score on a subject-matter exam that exceeds the passing score by at least 10 percent, or if they have at least a 2.75 GPA and are sponsored by a provisional training program prior to applying for a CE, so long as the applicant is employed when he or she participates in the CE educator preparation program. Applicants who fall into the latter exemption can only make up 10 percent of a CE program's accepted candidate cohort.
NM: Each Preparation Program sets its own admission criteria.
NV: Passing the Praxis Core is required for all candidates. Applicants have three alternatives to substitute passing the basic skills exam: a master's degree or higher that required the applicant to take the GRE for admission; 3.0 GPA and passing scores on the GRE; or a "B" average on a course of study approved by the state after the candidate failed to pass the basic skills exam.
NY: Candidates are required to have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA (or a positive recommendation from the offering institution). Candidates also need to meet a minimum score on the GRE or equivalent exam, set by the ATP institution.
OH: Minimum 2.5 GPA or master's degree with minimum GPA of 3.0
OK: Candidates can also demonstrate strong academic standing by holding a bachelor's degree with two years of qualified work experience in a field corresponding to the intended area(s) of certification, or a terminal degree (i.e., the highest degree available in a field).
PA: ABCTE applicants do not have to demonstrate academic proficiency requirements via a GPA nor a test of academic proficiency, such as the SAT, ACT, or GRE.
TN: Minimum 2.75 GPA in the last 60 credit hours of a completed baccalaureate degree, or a 3.0 GPA for candidates in post-baccalaureate programs. Applicants must also present a passing score on the ACT, SAT, or Praxis CORE
TX: Overall 3.0 GPA of each incoming class admitted by any preparation program; individuals must have a minimum 2.5 GPA.
UT: Utah's Alternative Routes to Licensure (ARL) and the Academic Pathway to Teaching (APT) are discontinued in 2020.
VT: Peer Review applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum "B"
WA: The average GPA for all new entrants to teacher preparation programs must be above 3.0 and no more than one-third of the program's candidates can have GPAs below 3.0.

State policy requires all alternate route candidates to pass a subject-matter test prior to admission into the program.

2020
Figure details

All alternate route candidates are required to pass a subject-matter test prior to admission.: IL, KS, LA, MA, MD, MI, MS, NJ, NY, OH, RI, VT, WV

Only some alternate route candidates are required to pass a subject-matter test prior to admission.: AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, ID, IN, KY, ME, SC, TX, VA, WI

No alternate route candidate is required to take a subject-matter test prior to admission.: AZ, DE, HI, IA, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NM, NV, OK, PA, SD, TN, WA

State policy does not permit alternate route programs.: AK, OR, UT, WY

Footnotes
ID: Alternate route candidates are required to pass a subject-matter test prior to becoming a teacher of record.
MD: Alternate route candidates are required to pass a subject-matter test prior to becoming a teacher of record.
NY: Alternate route candidates are required to pass a subject-matter test prior to becoming a teacher of record.
OK: In Oklahoma, alternate route candidates are required to pass a subject-matter test prior to becoming a teacher of record. However, these candidates may apply for an exception if they have a "substantially comparable" advanced degree.
TX: Alternate route candidates are required to pass a subject-matter test prior to becoming a teacher of record.

State allows candidates to pass a subject-matter test in lieu of any coursework requirements in the certification area.

2020
Figure details

Candidates are exempt from content coursework if they pass a subject-matter licensing test.: AL, ME, NC, TX

State policy does not guarantee a candidate's ability to be exempt from content coursework if they pass a subject-matter licensing test.: CT, DE, FL, GA, MD, NV, OK, RI

State has no content course requirements for alternate routes.: AR, AZ, CA, CO, DC, HI, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MI, MO, MS, MT, ND, OH, PA, SC, SD, VA, WA

No candidates are exempt from content coursework if they pass a subject-matter licensing test.: IA, MN, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, TN, VT, WI, WV

State policy does not permit alternative route programs.: AK, OR, UT, WY

Footnotes
NV: Test-out option is only available to secondary teachers; there is no test-out option for elementary teachers.

Updated: February 2020

How we graded

5A: Program Entry
 
  • Rigorous Admissions Requirement: With some accommodation for successful performance in a previous professional career, alternate routes should be required to set a rigorous bar by requiring candidates to provide evidence of solid academic aptitude. This should be demonstrated by requiring candidates to have a minimum 3.0 individual or 3.2 cohort average grade point average (GPA) or to have a score in the top half of the entire college-going population on tests of academic ability, such as the SAT, ACT, or GRE.
  • Content Knowledge Requirements:
    • The state should require all aspiring alternate route candidates to pass the subject-matter licensing test to demonstrate the required content knowledge as a prerequisite for admission.
    • The state should waive content-knowledge coursework requirements for alternate route candidates if they can demonstrate mastery by passing the subject-matter licensing test prior to admission.
Rigorous Admissions Requirements
One half of total goal score is earned based on the following:
  • One-half credit: The state will earn the half point if all alternate route candidates are required to have a minimum individual GPA of 3.0 or cohort average GPA of 3.2, or earn a score in the top half of the entire college-going population on a test of academic ability, such as the SAT, ACT, or GRE.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if all alternate route candidates are required to meet any minimum articulated GPA, or if it norms its proficiency tests to the aspiring teacher population rather than the general college-going population.
Content Knowledge Requirements
One half of total goal score is earned based on the following:
  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if all candidates are required to pass the subject-matter licensing test as a prerequisite for admission and if they are exempt from content-knowledge coursework requirements.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if all candidates are either required to pass the subject-matter licensing test as a prerequisite for admission or if they are exempt from content-knowledge coursework requirements.

Research rationale

Alternate routes for teacher certification represent opportunities for qualified candidates who have strong subject-matter knowledge to enter the profession. Prospective alternate route candidates need the advantage of a strong academic background, allowing them to focus on gaining the professional skills needed for success in the classroom[1]. A teacher's academic caliber correlates with classroom success[2]. Alternate routes that admit candidates with a weak grasp of both subject matter and professional knowledge may put these new teachers in an impossible position, where they are much more likely to experience failure and perpetuate high attrition rates[3].

Academic requirements for admission to alternate routes should set a high bar. Assessing a teacher candidate's college GPA and/or aptitude scores on national exams normed to the entire college-going population can provide useful and reliable measures of academic caliber, provided that the state does not set the floor too low[4]. One study found, "candidates with higher GPAs and those from more selective colleges perform systematically better in the classroom than otherwise identical candidates"[5]. International studies show that differences in teacher cognitive skills are strongly correlated to differences in student performance[6]. More rigorous teacher qualifications improve student achievement, especially among schools serving students from low-income families[7].

In addition to evaluating incoming candidates' academic aptitude, programs should also determine whether applicants have the content knowledge needed to succeed in the classroom after entry through an alternate route[8]. This determination prior to admission, as proven by a passing score on the state's subject-matter licensure test, is important given that many alternative routes do not require candidates to complete additional content coursework during the program. Furthermore, once a candidate is teaching through an alternate route, he or she will need to devote time and effort to hone the professional skills necessary for success in the classroom, such as behavioral management, curriculum delivery, and student assessment. Given the expedited programming for alternate routes, new teachers may feel overwhelmed if they are learning the content they need to teach while simultaneously learning how to teach it.

In some cases, alternative routes require candidates to have a major in the subject they will be licensed to teach. While ensuring content knowledge through an adequate test is essential, rigid coursework requirements can dissuade talented, qualified individuals from pursuing a teaching career. By allowing candidates to demonstrate their rich content knowledge by testing out of coursework requirements, professionals who have a wealth of relevant, subject-specific experience can pass their expertise on to students. With such provisions, states can maintain high standards for potential teachers, while utilizing experts of respective fields, including traditionally hard-to-staff subjects such as differential mathematics and biology. For instance, an engineer who wishes to teach physics should face no content coursework obstacles, provided he or she can prove sufficient knowledge of physics on an adequate subject matter test. A testing exemption would also allow alternate routes to recruit college graduates with strong liberal arts backgrounds to work as elementary teachers, even if their transcripts fail to meet state requirements[9].


[1] Walsh, K., & Jacobs, S. (2007). Alternative certification isn't alternative. Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED498382.pdf

[2] There is no shortage of research indicating the states and districts should pay more attention to the academic ability of a teacher applicant. On the importance of academic ability generally, see: Carlisle, J. F., Correnti, R., Phelps, G., & Zeng, J. (2009). Exploration of the contribution of teachers' knowledge about reading to their students' improvement in reading. Reading and Writing, 22(4), 457-486.; National Mathematics Advisory Panel. (2008). Foundations for success: The final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. US Department of Education.; Kukla-Acevedo, S. (2009). Do teacher characteristics matter? New results on the effects of teacher preparation on student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 28(1), 49-57.; Barber, M., & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the world's best-performing schools systems come out on top. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from http://mckinseyonsociety.com/downloads/reports/Education/Worlds_School_Systems_Final.pdf; Wayne, A. J., & Youngs, P. (2003). Teacher characteristics and student achievement gains: A review. Review of Educational Research, 73(1), 89-122.; Whitehurst, G. J. (2002, March). Scientifically based research on teacher quality: Research on teacher preparation and professional development. White House Conference on Preparing Tomorrow's Teacher.; Monk, D. H. (1994). Subject area preparation of secondary mathematics and science teachers and student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 13(2), 125-145.; Murnane, R. J. (1983). Understanding the sources of teaching competence: Choices, skills, and the limits of training. Response to Donna Kerr. Teachers College Record, 84(3), 564-69.; Strauss, R. P., & Sawyer, E. A. (1986). Some new evidence on teacher and student competencies. Economics of Education Review, 5(1), 41-48.; Rockoff, J. E., Jacob, B. A., Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. O. (2011). Can you recognize an effective teacher when you recruit one? Education Finance and Policy, 6(1), 43-74.

[3] Walsh, K., & Jacobs, S. (2007). Alternative certification isn't alternative. Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED498382.pdf

[4] For research on the importance of selectivity in teacher preparation programs, see: White, B. R., Presley, J. B., & DeAngelis, K. J. (2008). Leveling up: Narrowing the teacher academic capital gap in Illinois. Illinois Education Research Council. Policy Research Report: IERC 2008-1. Retrieved from http://www.siue.edu/ierc/publications/pdf/IERC2008-1.pdf; For evidence on teacher preparation programs' admissions selectivity, see: Auguste, B., Kihn, P., & Miller, M. (2010). Closing the talent gap: Attracting and retaining top-third graduates to careers in teaching. Washington, DC: McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from http://mckinseyonsociety.com/closing-the-talent-gap/; For evidence on international teacher preparation program standards to further contextualize the aforementioned studies, see: Hanushek, E. A., Piopiunik, M., & Wiederhold, S. (2014). The value of smarter teachers: International evidence on teacher cognitive skills and student performance (National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. w20727). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3386/w20727; Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. (2005). Recruiting, selecting and employing teachers. In Teachers matter: Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers (pp. 141-167). Paris, France: OECD Publishing. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264018044-en; Whitehurst, G. J. (2002). Scientifically based research on teacher quality: Research on teacher preparation and professional development. White House Conference on Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers, 39-53. Retrieved from http://www.stcloudstate.edu/tpi/initiative/documents/assessment/ScientificallyBasedReserachonTeacherQuality.pdf

[5] Jacob, B. A. (2016). The power of teacher selection to improve education. Evidence Speaks Reports,1(12). Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/teacher-selection.pdf

[6] Hanushek, E. A., Piopiunik, M., & Wiederhold, S. (2018). The Value of Smarter Teachers: International Evidence on Teacher Cognitive Skills and Student Performance. National Bureau of Economic Research. doi:10.3386/w20727

[7] Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., Rockoff, J., & Wyckoff, J. (2008). The narrowing gap in New York City teacher qualifications and its implications for student achievement in high-poverty schools. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 27(4), 793-818.

[8] For consideration for elementary teachers' need to master content knowledge, see: Goldhaber, D. (2007). Everyone's doing it, but what does teacher testing tell us about teacher effectiveness? Journal of Human Resources, 42(4), 765-794.; See also: Harris, D. N., & Sass, T. R. (2011). Teacher training, teacher quality and student achievement. Journal of Public Economics, 95(7), 798-812. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED509656.pdf

[9] Walsh, K., & Jacobs, S. (2007). Alternative certification isn't alternative. Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED498382.pdf