Alternate Route Usage and Providers:

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.

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

Analysis of Minnesota's policies

Although it does not limit the usage of its alternate route, Minnesota does place restrictions on providers.

Minnesota passed new legislation in March 2011 that allows for the creation of new teacher training programs. School districts or charter schools may create and implement a teacher training program; however, it must be in partnership with a college or university. Nonprofit providers are prohibited from operating an alternate route independently. A school district may partner with a nonprofit only after the district has consulted with a college or university.

Minnesota is commended for having no restrictions on the usage of its alternate route with regard to subject, grade or geographic areas.


Recommendations for Minnesota

Encourage diversity of alternate route providers.
Minneosta should specifically authorize alternate route programs run by local school districts and nonprofits, as well as institutions of higher education. Districts should be able to provide training without a required partnership with colleges and universities. For example, districts may want to provide training in a specific curriculum, something that most colleges and universities are reluctant to do.

State response to our analysis

Minnesota recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. However, the state asserted that education-related nonprofit organizations are allowed to operate alternate route programs. Minnesota contended that "the law requires consultation with a Minnesota college or university but the development and ownership of the program may rest outside of higher education."

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: