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How the Alternative Route to Teaching Certification Process Works

Not for the faint of heart, an alternative route program is demanding, yet highly rewarding. Acceptance to a program entails the steps below.

  • Consult with the district you are currently working (Routes 1,2,4): Your district's HR department and/or school principal should be able to advise you if your district is seeking candidates to participate in the Alternate Route Program to grow their teachers in designated subject matter shortage areas or geographic need areas.  Each district will have their own screening process in coordination with a partnering teacher prep program. You will need to coordinate with your district and the teacher prep provider. Route 3 should consult with the school district's HR department, regarding high needs, partner teacher preparation programs, and process to be placed in the district. Please note: not all districts are aware of or may not have a need to participate in partnership with a teacher preparation program to utilize the alternate route to teaching certification program benefits. If this is the case, contact the teacher preparation program offering an alternate route to teaching program, and inquire about possible solutions.
  • Identify the right preparation program for you: Once you have identified the best alternate route to teaching you wish to pursue, based upon your employment status and education experience, it's now important to identify the best Alternate Route teacher preparation program that best matches with your learning style and needsEach Alternate Route preparation program is different from the next. Alternate route programs contact them directly.   If currently employed by a district, inquire if they might have recommendations for partnering institutions.
  •  Apply to an Alternate Route program: Each alternative route program has their own application process and you must  contact them directly.Admission into the alternative route programs are competitive and on a space-available basis dependent on state and district funding.

  • Complete the necessary test(s) required: Prior to admittance, the necessary test must be passed. Contact the institution to find out if testing preparation assistance is available.

    • Basic Skills Test (Routes 1,2,3,4): West-B (Washington Educator Skills Test--Basic),West-B, designed to test reading, mathematics and writing skills that are important for the job of an educator. In addition, all prospective teachers are required to pass a content knowledge test for each endorsement earned.  Other test options exist, that can substitute for some of the sections of the the West-B, such as the the SAT/ACT and NES.    For more information on testing and substitution click here.
    • Deep Content Expertise (Routes 2,3,4): West-E, which tests subject area competency in the desired area of instruction or complete a state-approved major in a single subject content area. Some colleges and universities require the WEST-E as part of their admission requirements. Check with the individual college or university to discuss their admission policy. For more information on teacher assessment/testing and alternatives for the WEST-B alternatives, WEST-E replacement visit the PESB Educator assessment page.

  • Find Financial Support: Each program sets the tuition for their Alternate Routes to Teacher Certification. For more information, contact the program offering the Alternate Route programs contact them directly.  A limited number of Alternate Route conditional loan scholarships are available for those who qualify, must contact teacher preparation program to inquire. Other sources of financial assistance may be accessed at:  Also, check with your district, they might also be able to provide support.

  • Complete pre-classroom preparation (Routes 3,4): Complete an equivalent of a semester’s worth of instruction in pedagogy, classroom management, lesson design, English language learner instruction and more. Programs are generally offered the summer prior to placement in a class. Consult with the teacher preparation provider for more information.

  • Actively Teaching in the class while obtaining certificate (Route 4): Must employed in the district at the time of application, teaching in the subject area in which you want to earn your credential, or hold a conditional teaching certificates or emergency substitute certificates with the participating public school district. You must have  passed the WEST-E subject area test for your endorsement area, hold a minimum of a Bachelors of Arts degree from a regionally accredited institution and the employing district has applied to, and received from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)  a conditional certificate for you. You may be hired as the teacher of record during the year you are enrolled in the Alternative Route 4 program.  Under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) definition the district can claim you as a highly qualified teacher. To review a memo from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Professional Educator Standards Board related to the designation of Highly Qualified Teacher as a Route 4 Alternative route candidate, click here.