One of the most significant changes in the teaching profession over the past two decades has been the rapid growth of alternative routes into teaching. Such routes typically enable individuals with a bachelor's degree to begin teaching as the teacher of record before completing all the coursework required for full certification. Although alternative pathways to a teaching career were rare in the 1980s, 49 U.S. states now allow some form of alternative certification (Feistritzer, 2008).
The prevalence of such routes differs dramatically by state. In some states, such as California and New Jersey, alternative routes are not so alternative anymore; roughly 40 percent of New Jersey teachers enter the classroom through alternative routes (Grossman & Loeb, 2008). However, in states such as Vermont, Washington, Alaska, and North Dakota, relatively few alternative pathways exist.