Preparation for the Classroom: Minnesota

2017 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.

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Analysis of Minnesota's policies

Minnesota offers a preliminary teacher license to candidates who are prepared through the state's authorized alternate route programs.

Coursework Requirements: Minnesota requires that alternate route programs provide a minimum of 200 instructional hours to candidates before they can assume classroom responsibilities. The state does not provide specific guidelines about the nature of the coursework for its alternate route except to say that it should be research-based and focused on best practices, with strategies to combine pedagogy and best teaching practices. There is also no limit on the overall amount of coursework, nor on the amount of coursework a candidate can be required to take while also teaching.

Induction Support: Minnesota requires alternate route programs in partnership with districts to provide "intensive, ongoing, and multiyear mentoring and induction support for new teachers" and mentorship must be focused on attainment of the state's standards of effective practice for teachers; no further details or definitions, however, are articulated.

Supervised Practice Teaching Requirements: Minnesota does not require its alternate route candidates to participate in a supervised practice teaching experience.


Recommendations for Minnesota

Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Minnesota 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 a new teacher.  Setting minimum requirements, without established maximums, does not ensure that the new teacher will be able to complete the program in an appropriate amount of time without being overburdened by coursework. Furthermore, 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, classroom management, assessment and scientifically based early reading instruction.

Strengthen the induction experience for new teachers
While Minnesota is commended for offering high-quality mentoring support to new alternate route teachers, the state could strengthen its induction experience by providing for a reduced teaching load, and release time to allow new teacher to observe experienced teachers during the school day.

Offer opportunities to practice teach.
In addition to intensive induction support, the state should also require that candidates are provided with a practice teaching opportunity prior to their placement in the classroom.

State response to our analysis

Minnesota declined to respond to NCTQ's analyses.

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