Preparation for the Classroom: Washington

Alternate Routes 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 intensive induction support. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017). Preparation for the Classroom: Washington results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Washington's policies

Washington offers four pathways to alternate educator licensure for candidates already possessing a baccalaureate degree: Route 2, Route 3, and Route 4. Route 2 is for currently employed classified staff seeking residency teacher certification in subject matter or geographic shortage areas. Route 3 is for individuals holding noneducation degrees seeking employment as educators. Route 4 is for individuals seeking licensure who are currently employed on a conditional or emergency substitute license.

Coursework requirements: 
Washington provides no specific guidelines about the nature or quantity of coursework for its alternate routes.  Washington only requires candidates pursuing Route 2 to attend flexibly scheduled training and coursework offered at a local site, online or via videoconferencing. However, no other instructions related to coursework are mentioned. Candidates pursuing Route 3 and Route 4 are required to attend a Summer Teaching Academy, however, no further coursework guidelines are specified.

Induction Support: The state does require that all candidates take part in an intensive classroom-based mentored internship in which monitoring and assistance decrease as the candidate demonstrates the skills necessary to manage the classroom with less supervision. Candidates pursuing Route 2 and Route 3 must complete this internship before receiving their residency certification, however, candidates pursuing Route 4 may complete their internship while serving as the teacher of record.

Supervised practice teaching requirements: Washington requires that all preparation programs provide candidates with at least 450 hours of clinical practice opportunities in a classroom setting that include supervised planning, instruction and reflection. Alternate route candidates must complete a mentored internship residency for a minimum of one-half of a school year. However, if a Route 4 candidate is employed on a conditional certificate, the intern may serve as the teacher of record, supported by a well-trained mentor.  Candidates pursuing Route 3 and Route 4 are required to attend an intensive summer teaching academy prior spending a year as a resident mentored intern.  


Recommendations for Washington

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 given the time constraints of a novice teacher 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.  However well-intentioned, any course that is not fundamentally practical and immediately necessary should be eliminated as a requirement.

Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers.

While Washington is commended for requiring that all alternate route candidates take part in an intensive mentored internship, the state should strengthen its induction experience by providing for a reduced teaching load and release time to allow new teachers to observe experienced teachers during the school day.

State response to our analysis

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

The state noted the Washington Board of Education intends to review and strengthen Washington Administrative Code (WAC) language to ensure that all providers of alternative route programs produce candidates that are prepared to be effective classroom teachers upon completion of the program. This review is slated to take place in Spring 2018.

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

5B: Preparation for the Classroom 

  • Practice Teaching: The state should require a supervised practice-teaching experience.
  • Induction: The state should require that all new teachers receive intensive induction support.
  • Manageable Coursework: The state should ensure that the amount of coursework it either requires or allows is manageable for a novice teacher. Anything exceeding 12 credit hours may be counterproductive, placing too great a burden on the teacher. This calculation is premised on no more than six credit hours in the summer, three credit hours in the spring, and three credit hours in the fall.
  • Targeted Coursework: The state should ensure that all coursework requirements are targeted to the immediate needs of the new teacher (e.g., seminars with other grade-level teachers, classroom management techniques, training in a particular curriculum, reading instruction).
Preparation for the Classroom
The total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Full credit: The state will earn the full point if all four elements are required for all alternate route programs.
  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if three elements are required for all alternate route programs.
  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if two elements are required for at least some of the state's alternate route programs.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if one element is required for at least one of the state's alternate route programs.

Research rationale

Alternate route programs must provide practical, meaningful preparation that is sensitive to a new teacher's workload and 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.[1] 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.[2] That is, while advanced pedagogy coursework may be meaningful for veteran teachers, alternate route coursework should build on more fundamental teaching competencies such as classroom management techniques, reading instruction, or curriculum delivery.

Most new teachers—regardless of their preparation—find themselves overwhelmed by taking on 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.[3] States must ensure that alternate route programs do not leave new teachers to "sink or swim" on their own when they begin teaching. It is critical that all alternate route programs provide at least a brief student teaching or other supervised practice experience for candidates before they enter the classroom, as well as ongoing induction support during those first critical months as a new teacher.[4]

[1] Constantine, J., Player, D., Silva, T., Hallgren, K., Grider, M., & Deke, J. (2009). An evaluation of teachers trained through different routes to certification. Final Report. NCEE 2009-4043. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from
[2] Walsh, K., & Jacobs, S. (2007). Alternative certification isn't alternative. Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from
[3] Greenberg, J., Walsh, K., & McKee, A. (2014). Teacher Prep Review: A review of the nation's teacher preparation programs. Retrieved from
[4] For a further review of the research on new teacher induction, see: Rogers, M., Lopez, A., Lash, A., Schaffner, M., Shields, P., & Wagner, M. (2004). Review of research on the impact of beginning teacher induction on teacher quality and retention. Retrieved from