NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Small But Growing Cadre Of Teachers With Alternative Certification

October 13, 1999

The overwhelming majority of teachers in America's classrooms arrived there having been certified by some traditional means -- often having graduated from a teaching school. But school districts are increasingly introducing teachers who have switched from another career and been licensed through a non-traditional route.

In fact, nearly every state has some type of alternative certification, reports the National Center for Education Information. And just about every state requires teachers to have a bachelor's degree and pass state teacher exams.

  • Although the U.S. Department of Education estimated that only 1 percent of the nation's teaching force had received certification through alternative routes as of 1994, educators say that figure has grown considerably in recent years.
  • The National Association for Alternative Certification estimates that as many as 80,000 teachers have been licensed through non-traditional means.
  • One of the larger alternative programs is Troops to Teachers, which was created in 1993 to train ex-military personnel in the teaching profession -- and which has helped more than 3,000 participants get certified.

Two states have pioneered alternative teacher-training programs. Texas has 27 alternative programs which have supplied the state with 14 percent of its teachers. California has 65 such programs, involving 430 of its 1,000 school districts and 7,923 teachers.

Yet despite its alternative program, 11 percent of California's teachers have an emergency permit or a waiver to teach.

Source: Stephaan Harris, "Leading Classrooms After Leading Troops," USA Today, October 13, 1999.


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