Alternate Route Usage and Providers: Kansas

Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy


The state should provide an alternate route that is free from regulatory obstacles that limit its usage and providers.

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Alternate Route Usage and Providers: Kansas results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Kansas's policies

Kansas limits the usage and providers of its alternate route.

Alternative licensure in Kansas is also only for secondary content teachers and for a limited number of K-12 subject area teachers.

Kansas universities are the only institutions authorized to provide alternate route programs.


Recommendations for Kansas

Broaden alternate route usage.
Kansas should reconsider grade-level restrictions on its alternate route. The state should provide a true alternative path to certification and eliminate requirements that alternate route teachers can only be hired if traditionally certified teachers cannot be found. Alternate routes should not be programs of last resort for hard-to-staff subjects, grade levels or geographic areas but rather a way to expand the teacher pipeline throughout the state. The state is commended, however, for taking out exclusionary language that required districts to "exhaust attempts to hire a traditionally licensed teacher" in its most recent legislation.

Encourage diversity of alternate route providers.
Kansas should specifically authorize alternate route programs run by local school districts and nonprofits, as well as institutions of higher education. A good diversity of providers helps all programs, both university- and non-university-based, to improve.  

State response to our analysis

Kansas was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state also contended that the program was designed to fill high-need content areas, and since elementary is not a high-need area there is no need for alternate route certification in this subject. The state further asserted that "all alternative providers are welcome to operate in Kansas once the organization has received state accreditation. Western Governor's is seeking state accreditation and thus is in the process."

Last word

Unfortunately, the state's response illustrates the belief that alternate routes are a lesser certification option, acceptable only when there is not an adequate supply of traditionally prepared teachers. This perspective prevents these routes from being a true alternative that creates another pipeline for talented, nontraditional candidates to enter the classroom.

Research rationale

From a teacher quality perspective—and supporting NCTQ's contention for broad-based, respectable, and widely-offered programs—there exists substantial research demonstrating the need for states to adopt alternate certification programs. Independent research on candidates who earned certification through the alternate-route Teach For America (conducted by Kane, Parsons and Associates) and the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. and ABCTE) programs has found that alternate route teachers are often as effective, and, in many cases, more effective, than traditionally-prepared teachers.  See also Raymond, M., Fletcher, S., & Luque, J. (2001). Teach for America: An evaluation of teacher differences and student outcomes in Houston, Texas. Stanford, CA: The Hoover Institution, Center for Research on Education Outcomes.

Specifically, evidence of the effectiveness of candidates in respectable and selective alternate certification requirements can be found in J. Constantine, D. Player, T. Silva, K. Hallgren, M. Grider, and J. Deke, An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification, Final Report. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Services, U.S. Department of Education (2009), D. Boyd, et al. "How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement." Education Finance and Policy, (2006).  T. Kane, J. Rockoff, and D. Staiger. "What Does Certification Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness? Evidence from New York City." National Bureau of Economic Research. (2006). 

A number of studies have also found alternative-certification programs such as Teach for America to produce teachers that were more effective at improving student achievement than other teachers with similar levels of experience.  See Z. Xu, J. Hannaway and C. Taylor, "Making a Difference?  The Effects of Teach for America in High School." The Urban Institute/Calder. (2009); D. Boyd et al "Recruiting Effective Math Teachers, How Do Math Immersion Teachers Compare? Evidence from New York City." Calder Institute (2009).  

For evidence that alternate route programs offered by institutions of higher education are often virtually identical to traditional programs, see Alternative Certification Isn't Alternative (NCTQ, 2007) at: