Alternate Route Preparation: New Hampshire

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.

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

Analysis of New Hampshire's policies

New Hampshire does not ensure that its alternate route candidates will receive streamlined preparation that meets the immediate needs of new teachers.

There are no specific coursework requirements outlined for Alternative Route 3A. Candidates provide evidence of competence for each required standard through a written portfolio and participation in a half-day oral examination. There is no requirement for practice teaching or induction support.

American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) candidates do not have traditional coursework requirements and do not have a practice-teaching experience or mentor.

Candidates in Alternative Routes 4 and 5 work with their school districts to develop a plan that meets New Hampshire's teacher competencies. Candidates receive a mentor for the full time they are participating in their program.

Candidates in all routes are eligible for certification upon completion of program requirements.


Recommendations for New Hampshire

Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
The state should articulate guidelines regarding the nature and amount of coursework required of candidates. Requirements should be manageable 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. 

Ensure program completion in less than two years.
New Hampshire should consider shortening the length of time it takes an alternate route teacher to earn standard certification. The route should allow candidates to earn full certification no later than the end of the second year of teaching.

Extend mentoring to all alternate route teachers.
While New Hampshire is recognized for requiring Alternates Route 4 and 5 teachers to work with a mentor, ABCTE and Alternate Route 3A teachers should also receive this support. In addition, the state should consider providing sufficient guidelines to ensure that induction 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. Alternatively, the state may want to consider providing candidates with practice-teaching opportunities prior to entering the classroom. 

State response to our analysis

New Hampshire asserted that "Alternatives 3A, 4, and 5 are all based on the certification standards for each endorsement. The routes allow candidates the flexibility to pursue coursework, assessment of prior knowledge, professional learning, and supervised on-the-job training with mentoring to demonstrate the evidence of competency. Students are able to complete the Alternative 4 route in less than 3 years but no more than 3 years. The Alternative 5 route must be completed in 2 years."

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: