Changing the Composition of Beginning Teachers: The Role of State Alternative Certification Policies

Research Rundown Issue: June '21
Publisher: Educational Policy
Date Published: May '21


This study explores whether changes to local alternative teacher preparation policy correlate with changes to the make-up of the teacher workforce. The researchers found two notable trends: First, that an expansion of alternative teacher preparation programs was associated with an increase in the share of teachers of color in first-year teacher cohorts, and second, that a larger share graduated from a selective college. Spanning over twenty years of data, the study also found:

  • A larger share of new white teachers came through traditional, university-based teacher preparation programs than alternative programs (82.5% vs. 76.9%),
  • Teachers of color are more likely to enter teaching through an alternative teacher preparation program, and
  • Nearly 40% of beginning alternatively licensed teachers taught an in-demand subject, as compared to only 25% of new, traditionally trained teachers.

Why This Matters in Minnesota

Minnesota schools continue to face shortages of teachers of color and teachers in specific fields. In 2017, the Minnesota legislature made statewide policy changes to create high-quality, alternative pathways to the classroom. In 2019, the Learning Disabilities Association of Minnesota launched the state’s first alternative teacher preparation program, followed shortly by a second program at Lakes Country Service Cooperative. Since then, TNTP and Southwest West Central Service Cooperative have also been approved. These tailored programs help fill significant needs for special education and career and technical education teachers. Minnesota is still home to a few non-conventional pathways—like Teach for America and Grow Your Own programs—that are run through institutions of higher education.

Read the full analysis