Alternate Route Preparation: Ohio

Expanding the Pool of Teachers 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 adequate mentoring and support.

Meets in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Alternate Route Preparation: Ohio results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Ohio's policies

Ohio alternate route candidates participate in the Intensive Pedagogical Training Institute (IPTI) or an intensive summer training program approved by the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents. The state has not provided guidelines for the intensive summer training preparation programs.

IPTI is self-paced, although participants must complete three modules within the first six months of enrollment. Information included in the modules focuses on student development and learning, pupil-assessment procedures, curriculum development, classroom management and teaching methodology. 

Candidates must also complete 12 semester hours of college coursework within the four years teaching under the Alternative Resident Educator License. This requirement can also be met by professional development work provided by a teacher preparation program or a regional Educational Service Center.

Candidates are required to complete a field experience prior to entering the classroom. IPTI requires that applicants arrange their own student teaching experiences and notes that candidates must have flexibility in their schedules to fulfill this requirement.

Candidates with an Alternative Resident Educator License must "complete a resident educator program consistent with standards established by the Ohio department of education." This includes an intensive, structured mentoring program.

Upon IPTI completion, candidates qualify for the Alternative Resident Educator License. After four years of successful teaching, teachers are eligible for the professional license.


Recommendations for Ohio

Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Simply mandating coursework without specifying the purpose can inadvertently send the wrong message to program providers—that "anything goes" as long as credits are granted. However constructive, any course that is not fundamentally practical and immediately necessary should be eliminated as a requirement. Appropriate coursework should include grade-level or subject-level seminars, methodology in the content area, assessment and scientifically based early reading instruction.

Ensure program completion in fewer than two years.
Ohio 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.

Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers.
While Ohio is commended for requiring all new teachers to work with a mentor, the state should consider explicitly requiring that mentors are assigned full time to the new teacher for the first critical weeks of school and then gradually reduced over the course of the entire first year. Further, other strategies, such as having candidates arrange their own practice teaching opportunities, are of questionable value. Effective induction strategies include practice teaching prior to teaching in the classroom, a reduced teaching load and release time to allow new teachers to observe experienced teachers during each school day.

State response to our analysis

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

Ohio indicated that both the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents and the state superintendent of public instruction developed the guidelines for the intensive summer training: the Intensive Pedagogical Training Institute (IPTI). The guidelines for the program contents are outlined in law.

The state additionally noted that with regard to the mentor program requirements for the Alternative Resident Educator License, each new Ohio teacher who meets the Resident Educator Program eligibility requirements (i.e., teaching on a 120+ days license, teaching in the area and grade level of their teaching license at least .25 FTE) is required to be supported by a trained certified mentor. Intentional instructional coaching on Best Teaching Practices coupled with observations provide new teachers (Resident Educators) opportunities to deepen their skills and knowledge.

Ohio commented that mentors and Resident Educators work through rigorous teaching processes focused on Best Teaching Practices evidenced through classroom observations. Mentors conduct frequent “drop-ins” (referred to as on-going classroom observations) to continually and formatively assess the Resident Educator, followed by reflective conversations that provide deliberate and timely feedback.

The state added that the Ohio Resident Educator Program is based on research that shows that teachers learn best by watching other teachers, followed by reflective conversations and specific feedback. Resident Educators are required to conduct reciprocal observations with their mentors or other exemplary colleagues to sharpen their lens of effective teaching. Resident Educators conduct exemplary observations of experienced teachers followed by reflection and feedback in postobservation conversations.

Ohio further stated that Resident Educators are encouraged to videotape their teaching to establish the best practice of ongoing self-assessment resulting in adjustments in lesson and assessment design and implementation.

Research rationale

Alternate route programs must provide practical, meaningful preparation that is sensitive to a new teacher's 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. 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.

Induction support is especially important for alternate route teachers.
Most new teachers—regardless of their preparation—find themselves overwhelmed on taking responsibility for 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. While alternate route programs will ideally have provided at least a brief student teaching experience, not all programs can incorporate this into their models. States must ensure that alternate route programs do not leave new teachers to "sink or swim" on their own when they begin teaching.

Alternate Route Preparation: Supporting Research
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 E.R. Ducharme and M.K. Ducharme, "Quantity and quality: Not enough to go around." Journal of Teacher Education, Volume 49, No. 3, May 1998, pp. 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 J.W. Miller, M.C. McKenna, and B.A. McKenna, "A comparison of alternatively and traditionally prepared teachers". Journal of Teacher Education, Volume 49, No. 3, May 1998, pp. 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, Volume 17, No. 1, Spring 2007, pp. 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: Final Report at:

See also Alternative Certification Isn't Alternative (NCTQ, 2007) at: