Alternate Route Preparation: Mississippi

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: Mississippi results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Mississippi's policies

Although Mississippi offers alternate routes with streamlined preparation, it could do more to meet the immediate needs of new teachers.

The Mississippi Alternate Path to Quality Teachers (MAPQT) requires candidates to participate in a summer training program for approximately three weeks that is equal to 90 clock hours. The program consists of effective teaching strategies, state curriculum frameworks, planning and instruction and survival skills in the classroom. Candidates then participate in a practicum one Saturday a month for nine months. The practicum focuses on classroom management, peer coaching, school law, data analysis using test results and training modules using interactive video training.

Master of Arts candidates must complete six graduate hours of preteaching coursework requirements from an approved Master of Arts in Teaching program. Coursework includes tests and measurements and classroom management. Candidates must also complete six additional graduate hours, including a supervised internship prescribed by the participating institution.

Teach Mississippi candidates complete an eight-week training session equal to nine semester hours at the graduate level. Coursework includes teaching strategies, classroom management, state curriculum requirements, instructional methods and tests and measurements. Candidates may also complete a 10-week training session online.

American Board Certification for Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) candidates must complete training in one of the following: the MAPQT three-week summer training, an eight-week online training or six hours of initial graduate university courses.

None of the routes provides a practice-teaching opportunity but all require a one-year internship period that includes mentoring. The ABCTE program specifies that mentoring must be provided by a National Board-Certified teacher or a trained mentor certified in the same subject area.

Candidates are eligible for standard certification after one year.


Recommendations for Mississippi

Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers.
While Mississippi is commended for requiring all new teachers to work with a mentor, there are insufficient guidelines indicating 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

Mississippi recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

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: