Preparation for the Classroom: Kentucky

Alternate Routes Policy


The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide efficient preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers, as well as intensive induction support. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017). Preparation for the Classroom: Kentucky results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Kentucky's policies

Kentucky offers several options as alternate routes to teacher certification: Exceptional Work Experience Certification, Local District Training Program Certification, College Faculty Certification, Veterans of the Armed Services Certification, University-Based Alternative Route to Certification, Institute Alternative Route to Certification, and Teach For America (TFA).  Kentucky also offers an Adjunct Instructor Certification to professionals with expertise in a specific subject area who may be employed in part-time positions. Teachers working under this certification shall be employed on an annual contract basis and are not eligible for tenure or other benefits provided to nonprobationary license holders.

Coursework Requirements: Kentucky does not set requirements on the nature or quantity of preparation coursework for the Exceptional Work Experience Certification, College Faculty Certification, Adjunct Instructor Certification and Veterans of the Armed Services Certification programs.

Candidates of the Local District Training Program Certification must undergo a minimum of 250 hours of formal instruction, split into three phases. Phase 1 includes a full-time seminar and practicum that lasts at least eight weeks and includes preparation on an introduction to basic teaching skills through supervised teaching experiences with students and classroom management techniques. Phase 2 and 3 each consist of 18 weeks of formal instruction that include informal and formal observation and feedback on a candidate's performance. Candidates must take the professional knowledge portion of the core battery of the National Teacher Examination no earlier than the Phase 3 training period.

University-Based Alternative Route to Certification and Institute Alternative Route to Certification program providers must meet the state's Education Professional Standards Board program standards, which include, but are not limited to, providing preparation on research-based classroom management techniques and methodologies to meet students' diverse educational needs.  University-Based Alternative Route to Certification candidates must complete a university-based preparation program while teaching full time. The preparation program provider determines a candidate's coursework by assessing the candidate's educational background and then developing "a plan of coursework that shall adequately prepare the candidate for successful completion of the requirements for program completion and certification for the areas and grade ranges that correspond with the candidate's school placement."
This Institute Alternative Route to Certification also requires elementary candidates to complete a 240-hour institute that takes place on six-hour days for eight weeks. Content includes research-based teaching strategies in reading and math; research on child and adolescent growth; knowledge of individual differences, including teaching exceptional children; and methods of classroom management. Middle and secondary candidates complete similar subject-matter in a 180-hour institute that takes place on six-hour days for six weeks. Candidates must also participate in the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program.

TFA requires candidates to complete a five-week intensive training program, which includes "instruction in goal-oriented, standards-based instruction, diagnosing and assessing students, lesson planning and instructional delivery, classroom management, maximizing learning for diverse students, and teaching methodologies."

Induction Support: Kentucky requires that candidates in the Local District Training Certification, College Faculty Certification, Veterans of the Armed Services Certification, and University-Based Alternative Route to Certification programs must participate in a one-year teacher internship program. Through the internship, candidates are guided by a beginning teacher committee that is comprised of a resource teacher, the principal of the school where the internship is served, and a teacher educator appointed by a state-approved teacher preparation program. The committee is required to meet with candidates at least three times per year, and they must also observe candidates in their classrooms at least three times per year. The resource teacher must spend at least 20 hours working with the candidate in the classroom setting, and at least 50 hours consulting candidates outside of classroom time or attending assessment meetings.

The state recently changed its policy to now no longer require candidates in the Exceptional Work Experience Certification program to have to participate in the internship program.

In addition, candidates in the Local District Training Certification program are provided a professional support team, comprised of the school principal, an experienced teacher, an instructional supervisor, and a faculty member from an institute of higher education. This team guides each candidate in the Local District Training Certification program through an individualized professional development plan. Candidates in the University-Based Alternative Route to Certification program must experience at least 15 hours of observations, annually, from university faculty and a district-based mentor.

TFA candidates receive one-on-one coaching throughout their residency.

Kentucky does not require that Adjunct Instructor Certification candidates receive any induction support.

Supervised Practice Teaching Requirements: Kentucky's alternate route candidates, except for those in the Local District Training Certification program and TFA, are not required to participate in a supervised practice teaching experience. The Local District Training Certification program requires candidates to practice teach under the supervision of their professional support team. TFA requires a supervised practice teaching experience as part of its preparation program.


Recommendations for Kentucky

Establish coursework guidelines for all alternate route preparation programs.
Kentucky should articulate guidelines regarding the nature and amount of coursework required for all candidates.  Requirements should be manageable given the time constraints of a novice teacher and contribute to the immediate needs of new teachers. Appropriate coursework should include grade-level or subject-level seminars, methodology in the content area, classroom management, assessment and scientifically based early reading instruction.  However well-intentioned, any course that is not fundamentally practical and immediately necessary should be eliminated as a requirement.

Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers.
Although most alternate route programs in Kentucky provide new teachers with mentors, it is unclear that all mentoring programs are structured for new teacher success.  The state should ensure that all alternate route candidates have access to high-quality induction experiences that include: 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 the school day.

Offer opportunities to practice teach.

In addition to intensive induction support, Kentucky should provide its candidates with a practice teaching opportunity prior to their placement in the classroom.

State response to our analysis

Kentucky was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

Kentucky noted that candidates may also enter the teaching profession by obtaining an Adjunct Instructor Certificate.

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

5B: Preparation for the Classroom 

  • Practice Teaching: The state should require a supervised practice-teaching experience.
  • Induction: The state should require that all new teachers receive intensive induction support.
  • Manageable Coursework: The state should ensure that the amount of coursework it either requires or allows is manageable for a novice teacher. Anything exceeding 12 credit hours may be counterproductive, placing too great a burden on the teacher. This calculation is premised on no more than six credit hours in the summer, three credit hours in the spring, and three credit hours in the fall.
  • Targeted Coursework: The state should ensure that all coursework requirements are targeted to the immediate needs of the new teacher (e.g., seminars with other grade-level teachers, classroom management techniques, training in a particular curriculum, reading instruction).
Preparation for the Classroom
The total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Full credit: The state will earn the full point if all four elements are required for all alternate route programs.
  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if three elements are required for all alternate route programs.
  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if two elements are required for at least some of the state's alternate route programs.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if one element is required for at least one of the state's alternate route programs.

Research rationale

Alternate route programs must provide practical, meaningful preparation that is sensitive to a new teacher's workload and stress level. Too many states have policies requiring alternate route programs to "backload" large amounts of traditional education coursework, thereby preventing the emergence of real alternatives to traditional preparation. This issue is especially important given the large proportion of alternate route teachers who complete this coursework while teaching. Alternate route teachers often have to deal with the stresses of beginning to teach while also completing required coursework in the evenings and on weekends.[1] States need to be careful to require participants only to meet standards or complete coursework that is practical and immediately helpful to a new teacher.[2] That is, while advanced pedagogy coursework may be meaningful for veteran teachers, alternate route coursework should build on more fundamental teaching competencies such as classroom management techniques, reading instruction, or curriculum delivery.

Most new teachers—regardless of their preparation—find themselves overwhelmed by taking on their own classrooms. This is especially true for alternate route teachers, who may have had considerably less classroom exposure or pedagogy training than traditionally prepared teachers.[3] States must ensure that alternate route programs do not leave new teachers to "sink or swim" on their own when they begin teaching. It is critical that all alternate route programs provide at least a brief student teaching or other supervised practice experience for candidates before they enter the classroom, as well as ongoing induction support during those first critical months as a new teacher.[4]

[1] Constantine, J., Player, D., Silva, T., Hallgren, K., Grider, M., & Deke, J. (2009). An evaluation of teachers trained through different routes to certification. Final Report. NCEE 2009-4043. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from
[2] Walsh, K., & Jacobs, S. (2007). Alternative certification isn't alternative. Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from
[3] Greenberg, J., Walsh, K., & McKee, A. (2014). Teacher Prep Review: A review of the nation's teacher preparation programs. Retrieved from
[4] For a further review of the research on new teacher induction, see: Rogers, M., Lopez, A., Lash, A., Schaffner, M., Shields, P., & Wagner, M. (2004). Review of research on the impact of beginning teacher induction on teacher quality and retention. Retrieved from