In March 2018, two of the authors independently conducted electronic searches of all 50 state Departments of Education websites to obtain policy documents authorizing APs. We omitted programs that included reciprocity agreements with other states or required National Board Certification, as both require a traditional license. We also recorded data from policy documents as well as extensive notes to explain complexities and idiosyncrasies in the policies.
We developed a coding manual to ensure that we coded policies consistently. Working independently, two of the authors coded programs from 25 states each on several features, including program title, eligibility, program and testing requirements, and time limitations for program completion. We entered these data into two separate Excel databases. To estimate inter-rater reliability, we conducted a second round of coding in which we exchanged states and, using the coding manual, coded them independently. Inter-rater reliability was 90%. With discussion, we reconciled all differences and then merged the two databases to create a single file comprising all authorized alternative route policies across the 50 states.
Between March and July of 2018, the authors endeavored to contact all 50 states’ departments of education by email, telephone, or both, to verify the accuracy of the information in the database. We first emailed DOE licensure and certification personnel seeking assistance. To non-responders, we sent a second email request in April. If a response was still not received after the second email message, we phoned the DOE contact to ask for assistance with vetting. Ultimately, via email and telephone, we affirmed the correctness (or corrected misinformation) for 35 states. When unable to contact DOE personnel, we also reached out to university colleagues in those states and, with them, vetted three additional states. For these 38 contacts, we documented all communications and took extensive notes as evidence on which to base our decisions. We were unsuccessful in confirming the accuracy and currency of policies for the remaining 12 states.
The authors completed the vetting process through the original process of data collection and verification. We recognize that state licensure policies change, but due to the time-consuming nature of vetting policy data, we are unable to make additions or changes to this data.
Program Classification Definitions
After vetting, we divided states equally and independently sorted policies into conceptual groups based on commonalities in their titles, eligibility, or program specifications. We met to discuss the sets of categories, reconcile differences in our categorizations, and come to agreement about classification. After accounting for overlapping categories and discussing disagreements in the grouping of programs, we arrived at the eight final mutually exclusive conceptual models displayed in the “Type” column. Finally, we individually grouped the program policies in our assigned states into eight categories:
|Career, Technical, and Vocational
|Program where persons with expertise and experience in their respective industry or with highly specialized knowledge (e.g., foreign language, business industry professional) are hired as the teacher of record in a technical or vocational subject area.
|Programs that allow candidates with at least a bachelor’s undergo a full review of their academic transcript or a teaching portfolio to demonstrate competency in the area in which the seek endorsement.
|Programs where candidates are granted limited certification in an area where there is a critical shortage of suitably qualified teachers.
|Granting candidates who are former or current university faculty, or doctoral degree holders in the content area of endorsement authorization to be the teacher of record.
|Persons without the appropriate credentials are hired as the teacher of record and pursue full certification through an approved preparation program.
|Programs that do not fit into the categories previously described.
|Require teacher candidates with at least bachelor’s degree are fully immersed in teacher training for at least one year before they enter the classroom as the teacher of record. Upon the completion of training (typically between 2-5 years) and test requirements candidates are eligible for the appropriate credential.
|Test Only programs require candidates to meet state examination requirements or complete the benchmarks of to be eligible for the appropriate credential. (e.g., The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence [ABCTE]).