Alternate Route Preparation: Florida

Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy


The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide streamlined preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers.

Nearly meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Alternate Route Preparation: Florida results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Florida's policies

Florida offers alternate routes with streamlined preparation that meet the immediate needs of new teachers.

Florida's Alternative Certification Program (FACP) offers a preservice component known as "Survival Training." The specifics of this training are left up to individual school districts. New teachers complete a pre-assessment which then informs their individual action plan. Coursework requirements are based on this action plan. As needed, new teachers complete online professional development courses in the 12 Educator Accomplished Practices, including assessment, communication, continuous improvement, critical thinking, diversity, ethics, human development and learning, knowledge of subject matter, learning environments, planning, role of the teacher and technology.

Florida also prepares alternate route candidates through Educator Preparation Institutes (EPI). New teachers participating in an EPI must receive instruction in professional knowledge and subject-matter content; however, the state does not outline specific coursework for EPI programs. 

FACP teachers do not have a practice-teaching requirement but are assigned a peer mentor.  Individuals participating in an EPI program must complete a field experience but are not required to have mentor support during their first year. District Alternative Certification programs do not include a practice-teaching component, as candidates are teachers of record and receive on-the-job training from a mentor.

Florida's alternate routes make all candidates eligible to earn a Professional Certificate in two years. 


Recommendations for Florida

Establish coursework guidelines for all alternate route preparation programs.
Florida is commended for both the amount and nature of coursework requirements for teachers in the FACP. Florida should establish similar guidelines for the Educator Preparation Institutes. Simply mandating coursework without specifying the purpose can inadvertently send the wrong message to program providers—that "anything goes" as long as credits are granted. However constructive, any course that is not fundamentally practical and immediately necessary should be eliminated as a requirement.

Provide induction support to all alternate route teachers.
While Florida is commended for requiring FACP teachers to work with a mentor, new teachers in an EPI program should also receive this support. In addition, the state should consider providing sufficient guidelines to ensure that the induction program is structured for new teacher success. Effective strategies include practice teaching prior to teaching in the classroom, intensive mentoring with full classroom support in the first few weeks or months of school, a reduced teaching load and release time to allow new teachers to observe experienced teachers during each school day.

State response to our analysis

Florida was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state reiterated that the EPI route must provide professional knowledge and subject-matter content that includes the educator accomplished practices and competencies specified in State Board Rule and that meets subject-matter content requirements, professional competency testing requirements, and competencies associated with teaching scientifically based reading instruction and strategies, which research has shown to be successful in improving reading among low-performing readers. Florida stated that the courses must be approved by the Department of Education prior to implementation and must include a field experience.

Research rationale

For a general, quantitative review of the research supporting the need for states to offer an alternate route license, and why alternate routes should not be treated as programs of "last resort," one need simply to look at the numbers of uncertified and out of field teachers in classrooms today, readily available from the National Center for Education Statistics. In addition, with U.S. schools facing the need to hire more than 3.5 million new teachers each year, the need for alternate routes to certification cannot be underestimated. See also Ducharme, E. R. & Ducharme, M. K. (1998). "Quantity and quality: Not enough to go around." Journal of Teacher Education, 49(3), 163-164.

Further, scientific and market research demonstrates that there is a willing and able pool of candidates for alternate certification programs—and many of these individuals are highly educated and intelligent. In fact, the nationally respected polling firm, The Tarrance Group, recently conducted a scientific poll in the State of Florida, identifying that more than 20 percent of Floridians would consider changing careers to become teachers through alternate routes to certification.

We base our argument that alternative-route teachers should be able to earn full licensure after two years on research indicating that teacher effectiveness does not improve dramatically after the third year of teaching. One study (frequently cited on both sides of the alternate route debate) identified that after three years, traditional and alternatively-certified teachers demonstrate the same level of effectiveness, see Miller, J. W., McKenna, M. C., & McKenna, B. A. (1998). Nontraditional teacher preparation: A comparison of alternatively and traditionally prepared teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 49(3), 165-176. This finding is supported by D. Boyd,  D. Goldhaber,  H. Lankford, and J. Wyckoff, "The Effect of Certification and Preparation on Teacher Quality." The Future of Children (2007): 45-68. 

Project MUSE (, found that student achievement was similar for alternatively-certified teachers as long as the program they came from was "highly selective."

The need for a cap on education coursework and the need for intensive mentoring are also backed by research, as well as common sense. In 2004, Education Commission of the States reviewed more than 150 empirical studies and determined that there is evidence "for the claim that assistance for new teachers, and, in particular, mentoring [have] a positive impact on teachers and their retention." The 2006 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher validates these conclusions. In addition, Mathematica (2009) found that student achievement suffers when alternate route teachers are required to take excessive amounts of coursework. See An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification at:

See also Alternative Certification Isn't Alternative (NCTQ, 2007) at: