One-Stop Shopping For Alternative Certification

Published June 1, 2004

Who better to teach U.S. government as a second career than Jon, who has worked for 25 years for the Federal Aviation Administration? He has coordinated activities involving local, state, and regional offices and has ushered program initiatives through the federal budget process to get them funded. But where does he go to find out how to become certified to teach?

The traditional paths many would-be educators must take to achieve their teacher certification simply take too long or don’t fit a working person’s schedule. Alternative certification programs can be a perfect solution–but only if potential teachers know about them.

Enter the National Center for Alternative Certification (NCAC), a one-stop clearinghouse of information for people like Jon.

The clearinghouse, launched in February, can be accessed through, an interactive Web site that provides prospective teachers with the information they need to find an alternative certification program that’s a good fit for them.

For example, if Jon wants to teach in Maryland, he can go to the Teach Now! Web site and select Maryland in the State Program Profiles search bar. He will then click on Alternative Teacher Certification Routes in the State, and then on Resident Teacher Certificate. He will find out that to enter a program in a school system, he will need:

  • a liberal arts bachelor’s degree in the subject to be taught at the secondary level;
  • 3.0 grade point average in the major to be taught; and,
  • qualifying scores on the Praxis I and II tests.

He also will need 135 clock hours of study in teaching skill areas such as models of teaching, planning, and classroom management.

NCAC has plans to offer a search engine to match a person’s interests and background with alternative certification programs that meet his or her criteria. The searchable database will contain descriptions of all alternative certification programs in the country. For example, every district in Florida has been mandated to develop its own alternative certification program, and these individual programs will be part of the database.

In addition to the Web site, NCAC will have a toll-free call center to walk potential teachers through the stages of alternative certification. The content on the NCAC Web site is based on the National Center for Education Information’s comprehensive guide, Alternative Teacher Certification: A State-by-State Analysis. The publication is currently available at the NCAC Web site, free of charge.

Starting in Fall 2004, NCAC will provide technical assistance and outreach to states, localities, and others interested in creating alternative route programs. In addition to organizing workshops and conferences, teams of individuals with experience in research-based implementation of alternative routes will be available to provide technical assistance.

Another feature of NCAC is the annual conference to foster face-to-face communication with colleagues and explore the latest research and policy issues surrounding alternative teacher certification. The first annual conference was held February 1-3; presenters included a diverse panel of federal education officials, researchers, state policy makers, and local project leaders.

The National Center for Alternative Certification is supported by a $2.25 million grant from the Office of Innovation and Improvement.

A longer version of this article was first published in the March 15, 2004 issue of Education Innovator, a weekly publication of the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) in the U.S. Department of Education. To receive an email copy of Education Innovator and for more information on OII’s activities, visit

Internet Information on Alternative Certification

National Center for Alternative Certification

National Center for Education Information


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