Alternate Route Usage and Providers:
Wisconsin

2015 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy

Goal

The state should provide an alternate route that is free from limitations on its usage and allows a diversity of providers.

Meets in part

Analysis of Wisconsin's policies

Although Wisconsin does not place restrictions on providers, the state does limit the usage of its alternate routes.

Candidates may only apply to critical-shortage content fields.

Wisconsin also offers a License Based on Equivalency (LBE), which provides "another pathway to a Wisconsin teaching license for people with teaching experience directly related to the license being sought." These licenses are not limited to any specific subject or grade levels.

State regulations authorize colleges or universities, schools, school districts, and other public or private organizations to provide alternate route programs. 

Citation

Recommendations for Wisconsin

Broaden alternate route usage.

Wisconsin should reconsider subject-area restrictions on its alternate routes. The state should provide a true alternative path to certification and eliminate requirements that alternate route teachers can only be hired if traditionally certified teachers cannot be found. Alternate routes should not be programs of last resort for hard-to-staff subjects, grade levels or geographic areas but rather a way to expand the teacher pipeline throughout the state.

State response to our analysis

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

The state noted that the License Based on Equivalency pathway is open to all licensure areas in Wisconsin and the program approval process allows any entity to become an approved provider. Wisconsin does not consider this model a last resort for hard-to-staff subjects, grade level or geographic areas. In fact, it was created to support career changers and candidates interested in entering teaching who had experiences that could be used as a viable equivalent to meet preparation program competencies.

Wisconsin also has some permit pathways that are available to districts.

How we graded

Research rationale

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. While alternate routes are an important mechanism for addressing shortages, they also serve the wider-reaching and more consequential purpose of providing an alternative pathway for talented individuals to enter the profession. 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 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."

Alternate Route Usage and Providers: Supporting Research
From a teacher quality perspective—and supporting NCTQ's contention for broad-based, respectable, and widely-offered programs—there exists substantial research demonstrating the need for states to adopt alternate certification programs. Independent research on candidates who earned certification through the alternate-route Teach For America (conducted by Kane, Parsons and Associates) and the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. and ABCTE) programs has found that alternate route teachers are often as effective, and, in many cases, more effective, than traditionally-prepared teachers.  See also M. Raymond, S. Fletcher, and J. Luque, July 2001. Teach for America: An evaluation of teacher differences and student outcomes in Houston, Texas. Stanford, CA: The Hoover Institution, Center for Research on Education Outcomes.

Specifically, evidence of the effectiveness of candidates in respectable and selective alternate certification requirements can be found in J. Constantine, D. Player, T. Silva, K. Hallgren, M. Grider, J. Deke, and E. Warner, An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification: Final ReportFebruary 2009, U.S. Department of Education, NCEE 2009-4043; D. Boyd, P. Grossman, H. Lankford, S. Loeb, and J. Wyckoff, "How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement." NBER Working Paper No. 11844, December 2005; T. Kane, J. Rockoff, and D. Staiger. "What Does Certification Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness? Evidence from New York City." NBER Working Paper No.12155, April 2006.

A number of studies have also found alternative-certification programs such as Teach for America to produce teachers that were more effective at improving student achievement than other teachers with similar levels of experience.  See Z. Xu, J. Hannaway, and C. Taylor, "Making a Difference? The Effects of Teach for America in High School." The Urban Institute/CalderApril 2007, Working Paper 17; D. Boyd, P. Grossman, K. Hammerness, H. Lankford, S. Loeb, M. Ronfeldt, and J. Wyckoff, "Recruiting Effective Math Teachers: How Do Math Immersion Teachers Compare?: Evidence from New York City." NBER Working Paper 16017, May 2010. 

For evidence that alternate route programs offered by institutions of higher education are often virtually identical to traditional programs, see Alternative Certification Isn't Alternative (NCTQ, 2007) at:  http://www.nctq.org/p/publications/docs/Alternative_Certification_Isnt_Alternative_20071124023109.pdf.