How to Choose an
Alternative Certification Program

How to Choose an Alternative Certification Program

Alternative certification programs in Texas offer a simpler and more accessible route to teacher certification than traditional university pathways. How do you ensure the alternative certification program you choose is high quality?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a certification program, from national accreditation to the quality of the coursework.The key indicators are accreditation, and whether there is a comprehensive support structure for new teachers, rigorous coursework, and a dedication to improving customer satisfaction.


National Accreditation

There are two major players in national accreditation for educator preparation programs (EPP). The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, or CAEP, is a rigorous certification based on multiple data points, including student outcomes. The Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation, or AAQEP, is a smaller, newer accreditation that focuses heavily on peer review.

CAEP was formerly known as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, which dates back to the 1950s, while AAQEP formed in 2017. CAEP requires more objective data points than AAQEP, which does not require these specific benchmarks.

Some teacher-educators have criticized CAEP for being too rigorous and less holistic. However, these data points and focus on student outcomes prove that CAEP has the students’ best interests at heart. Educator preparation programs should be able to prove their efficacy in the classroom. 

iteach is the only non-institute of higher education accredited by CAEP, which speaks to the rigor of the program and success of iteach-trained educators.

Texas EPP Governance

In Texas, the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) develops the rules and requirements for educator preparation programs. SBEC also accredits EPPs in Texas. The Texas Education Agency’s Division of Educator Standards, Testing, and Preparation is responsible for monitoring EPP quality based on SBEC’s requirements. 

When an EPP fails to meet the requirements, they are put on probation and given an opportunity to fix their shortcomings. 

In 2022, the TEA found that Texas Teachers of Tomorrow did not meet compliance in several key areas, including mentorship, admission, governance, and curriculum, and were put on probation. This wasn’t the first time they struggled to meet SBEC guidelines; in 2016, an audit found them out of compliance in five of eight areas.

As of December 2022, Teachers of Tomorrow did not adequately meet the requirements of their probation, and TEA moved to revoke their accreditation. Ultimately, a judge ruled in favor of Teachers of Tomorrow in May 2024, granting their request for a temporary injunction.

Teachers of Tomorrow remains on probation, so they are still able to admit future educators. However, their future is in limbo. While they have commented publicly that they are making progress to address concerns, aspiring teachers should be concerned about the future of the program. The potential for a program to lose its accreditation and ability to ultimately certify you should be taken into strong consideration when choosing a program.

Certification Areas

It’s important to know which certifications an educator preparation program offers. Not every program offers every certification area. In order for an EPP to offer a certification area, they must have a minimum of a 75% pass rate on the content area exams. 

Recently, Teachers of Tomorrow has fallen short of this pass rate in several major certification areas, including secondary math, secondary social studies, and elementary core subjects. They have until September 2024 to improve these pass rates, or they will lose these key certification areas. 

While their new CEO has commented on the steps they’re taking to address these issues, it’s still concerning for new teacher candidates. If they lose these certification areas, thousands of new teacher candidates may be affected. The time you’ve put in and the money you’ve spent could be at risk.

iteach is approved for dozens of certification areas and is in no danger of losing any, so you won’t risk your certification and career. 

High-Quality Test Preparation

It’s important for an EPP to prepare teacher candidates for their certification exams with high-quality test preparation. A good test preparation program offers more than just practice tests. 

iteach candidates recieve access to Passage Preparation™ to prepare for their exams. Passage Preparation™ is created by educators and aligned to test standards. Content is delivered in multiple formats, so teachers can better understand the material. The courses also offer suggestions for how to teach content to students, so teachers can feel prepared for the classroom.

When choosing an EPP, inquire about test preparation options and pass rates. In Texas, there are limited opportunities for taking a certification exam, so it’s crucial that you are prepared the first time. 

Support for New Teachers

Adequate support for new teachers is key to teacher success and retention. One area which educator preparation programs can support teacher candidates is in mentorship. As previously mentioned, this was an area where Teachers of Tomorrow fell short. They struggled to prove that the mentors were trained or qualified.

iteach boasts an impressive 12:1 mentee to mentor ratio, ensuring that candidates are fully supported their first year in the classroom. These mentors are experienced educators who provide feedback and guidance on pedagogy and classroom management. 

Additionally, iteach now offers instructional coaches that specialize in specific content areas. Now, when a teacher struggles with lesson planning or delivering content, they have access to an experienced coach for guidance. The inclusion of instructional coaches in our program cannot be found in any other program–it’s one of a kind.

Entering the classroom for the first time is daunting, and the first year of teaching is the most difficult. Choosing a program with adequate support is crucial for new teachers to succeed.

Rigorous Coursework

A simple path to teacher certification does not equate to easy coursework. The coursework in an alternative certification program should prepare you for entering the classroom, lesson planning, working with diverse populations, and classroom management. iteach courses in Texas include:
  • Learning Environments
  • Learner Development
  • Planning Instruction and Assessments
  • Literacy and 21st Century Instruction
  • Learner Differences and Special Needs
  • Diverse Populations, English Language Learners, and Bilingual Students
  • Residency-Specific Course
Each course involves several graded assignments. Course instructors are experienced educators who offer timely feedback. Be wary of programs that promote easy coursework. There’s no substitute for hands-on assignments that will prepare you for the classroom. Our coursework is approachable and accessible, while still teaching and assessing you at a high-level. At iteach, we prepare you for the classroom from day one. We even have a first day of school resource in our coursework to help you be successful. We care about creating high-quality, effective teachers–not just getting you certified as quickly as possible.

Customer Satisfaction

No company is without its share of unhappy customers. Consider ratings, number of reviews, and how the EPP is addressing customer concerns when choosing a program. 

iteach has over 900 reviews on Trustpilot with a 4.1 rating, as opposed to fewer than 10 reviews at Texas Teachers. 

A major area of criticism for iteach has been the difficulty of reaching a live person. We’ve addressed this issue with several solutions. First, we’ve increased phone support. We also offer a live chat on our website. Soon, our chat will also feature advanced AI features to better answer customer questions outside of business hours. We’ve also recently launched virtual advising sessions.

Choosing an Alternative Certification Program

Future educators deserve high-quality training and preparation for the classroom. Choosing an alternative certification program requires diligence and research. Choose a program in good standing with the state to avoid jeopardizing your certification. 

A program dedicated to your success as a teacher will include ample opportunities for support, like iteach’s field mentors and instructional coaches. iteach also supports candidates through Passage Preparation™’s excellent test preparation courses. We remain dedicated to customer satisfaction, and we have remained in good standing with the state of Texas since our founding more than 20 years ago.

iteach has prepared over 29,000 teachers for the classroom, with a 91% retention rate over three years. In 2022-2023, 97% of our candidates passed the pedagogy test and 92% passed their content area exam. 

We remain dedicated to a high-quality of teacher preparation, from our coursework and mentorship to our CAEP-accreditation. 

Service Area A: Teacher Recruitment and Retention

Forecasting and Planning

Recruitment Campaigns

Licensure Programs for Paras and Subs

Access to our New Teachers Pipeline

Career Pathing Solutions

Skill Development Solutions


Service Area B: Professional Development 

Video Coaching and Self-Reflection 

Professional Development Courses 

New Teacher Programs 

Teacher Institutes 

Video Library Subscriptions 


Service Area C: Student Learning Acceleration 

Audits, Analysis and Solution Planning 

RISE Summer School Program 

Supplemental Curricula 

Teacher Coaching 

Institute Courses for Teachers 


Service Area D: Continuing Education 

Graduate-Level 1-3-Credit Courses 

Learning Pathways and Certificates 

Master’s Degree Programs 

Doctorate Degree Programs 


Service Area E: Leadership Solutions 

Strategic Planning 

Equity Consulting 

Leadership Coaching 

Custom Packages