U.S. Department of Education’s Definition of Alternative Licensure:
According to the U.S. Department of Education, expanding the education workforce at the necessary pace while also ensuring that teachers are effective and motivated to stay on the job requires new ways of recruiting, training, and supporting teacher candidates. We cannot rely exclusively on traditional teacher preparation programs to ratchet up their efforts. We need to develop new routes to teacher certification, giving more candidates more access through high-quality alternative teacher preparation programs designed to meet local needs.
What does "alternative" mean? Instead of drawing primarily from the traditional pool of teacher preparation candidates, which consists mainly of college students and recent graduates, alternative route programs cast a broader net, making efforts to attract non-traditional candidates who come to the program already well-versed in the content they want to teach.
This category includes mid-career individuals and retirees from other professions. Instead of requiring participants to follow the traditional teacher preparation pattern of academic course work and supervised student teaching before taking over a classroom, alternative programs move candidates into their own classrooms after a short period of training. Candidates continue their studies at night and on weekends and receive structured mentoring and support while they teach.
Alternative routes allow people such as career changers and those who have been out of the job market (e.g., stay-at-home mothers) and who hold at least a Bachelor’s degree to transition into teaching without the hardship of leaving the paid workforce or the expense and possible redundancy of traditional teaching programs.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Definition of Alternative Licensure:
Alternative Licensure Programs provide opportunities for individuals with non-education degrees to become licensed public school teachers. Individuals seeking licensure through an alternative licensure program should contact an institution of higher education (IHE) with an approved teacher education program for an official transcript evaluation. The evaluation should identify the required courses that must be completed before recommendation for licensure can be made to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's Licensure Section. Alternative licensure may only be available in the licensure areas in which the IHE has an approved teacher education program. There are 47 approved IHE teacher education programs.