2017 Alternate Routes Policy
The state should allow a diversity of alternate route providers. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Alternate Route Providers: Montana places restrictions on its alternate route providers. Candidates applying for a Class 5 Provisional License must complete a Plan of Study that determines the preparation they will receive. These plans can only be submitted to institutions of higher education, effectively precluding providers that are not institutions of higher education from offering alternate route preparation.
Board of Public Education Code 10.57.425; .426 Montana Office on Public Instruction, Class 5 Provisional License Plan of Study: http://www.opi.mt.gov/PDF/Cert/Class5StudyPlan.pdf
Encourage diversity of alternate route providers.
Montana should specifically authorize alternate route programs run by local school districts and nonprofits, as well as institutions of higher education. A robust diversity of providers has the potential to help all programs, both university- and non-university-based, to improve.
Further, Montana should refrain from articulating requirements that effectively preclude providers that are not institutions of higher education from offering alternate route programs.
Montana recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
Alternate routes should be structured to do more than just address shortages; they should provide an alternative pipeline for talented individuals to enter the profession. Many states have structured their alternate routes as a streamlined means to certify teachers in shortage subjects, grades, or geographic areas. A true alternate route creates a new pipeline of potential teachers by certifying those with valuable knowledge and skills who did not prepare to teach as undergraduates and are disinclined to fulfill the requirements of a new degree.
Some states claim that the limitations they place on the use of their alternate routes impose quality control. However, states control the criteria for who is admitted and who is licensed. With appropriate standards for admission and program accountability, quality can be safeguarded without casting alternate routes as routes of last resort or branding alternate route teachers "second-class citizens."