Alternative Certification

The state of Texas was the first to implement an alternative certification program in 1985. The first alternative certification program was initiated by the Houston Independent School District (HISD) to alleviate the teacher shortage crisis. A teacher shortage in urban areas facilitated the need for the first alternative certification program. The success of the first alternative certification program has enabled many diverse institutions across Texas to implement alternative certification programs. Today, there are 52 alternative certification programs offered in the state of Texas. Nationwide there are 46 states that offer some form of alternative certification program to equip individuals with the skills and resources needed to become certified teachers. Regional programs, state universities and community colleges are the main institutions that offer an alternative certification program for certifying teachers in Texas. Alternative certification programs have allowed individuals with a bachelors degree to become a certified teacher without completing the expensive and time consuming teaching degree programs offered by state and community colleges.

Alternative certification has allowed individuals with bachelors degrees in another discipline to choose teaching as their second or third career. There is only one requirement necessary for you to apply for an alternative certification program, a bachelors degree. Other requirements such as test scores on standardized tests and college credits in the discipline you want to teach can be acquired while completing the alternative certification program. You must have the necessary college hours in the discipline your would like to teach. These credits can be obtained through completing college courses at a state or community college.

Components of an effective alternative certification program:

  1. Rigorous screening progress of candidates
  2. Interactive and well-thought out training program
  3. Strong mentor programs
  4. Hands on experience in a classroom setting
  5. Classroom management training
  6. Curriculum development training
  7. Job placement assistance

A typical teacher certification program will last anywhere from 1 ½ year to two years. However, you can begin your one year teaching internship with full pay and benefits in less than six-months. Initial screening and preliminary interviews are the first steps to becoming eligible for an alternative certification program. Next, you will begin a two to six month training regiment to gain the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to start an internship teaching assignment. You will then start your one year teaching internship with a school district. The teaching intern will hold a probationary certificate and have close mentoring support during the first year of teaching. Your first year teaching internship will allow you to gain valuable teaching experience. There are two certification tests (PPR & TexES/ExCET) that must be taken and passed during the alternative certification program to become a certified teacher in Texas.

One of the big constraints to completing regional and university programs is the time and travel necessary to attend alternative certification training and follow-up classes. A typical alternative certification program will require 10-20 on-site classes, lasting anywhere from 4-8 hours, to gain the knowledge necessary for you to become a certified teacher. With the emergence of distance learning, streaming videos and learning management systems, online alternative certification programs are the wave of the future. Online alternative certification programs will allow individuals the freedom to complete training without leaving the confines of their home. Online alternative certification programs allow you to satisfy the training requirements of the program by utilizing a learning management system.