You are here
Alternative Teacher Candidates: What You Need to Know
The alternative teacher pathway allows districts to hire candidates with specific content knowledge and who hold an undergraduate or higher degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education to teach while completing the necessary teacher training based on the Colorado Teacher Quality Standards. Alternative teacher preparation programs vary in length from 1 year to 2 years (though special education generalist candidates may take a third year, if necessary). While serving as a teacher, alternative candidates put what they learn into practice immediately.
Please note: Alternative licenses are issued in one content area only. Only once alternative preparation has been completed and the individual has advanced from an alternative to an initial license may other endorsements be added.
Using This Page
This page lists the steps you'll take to obtain an alternative educator license in Colorado. It also includes links to resources that help you complete each step. Resources will open in a new window or tab, depending on your browser settings.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the expectations and timelines detailed below, as the alternative licensure process is quite different from what is required for other types of credentials. Most notably:
- You must complete, at minimum, steps 1, 2 and 3 as listed below before you submit your application to begin the alternative pathway. It is not necessary to fully meet the other requirements for an alternative license in order to apply.
- Once you have obtained a teaching position and enrolled in a Colorado alternative program, you may upload documents required for step 4 to your application within 60 days of the date of notification of qualification.
Pass CBI and FBI criminal history background checks
- As part of the background check, you must submit your fingerprints to CBI. (CBI will work directly with the FBI to obtain a national criminal history report.)
- You must submit fingerprints prior to applying; however, be sure to submit an application within 30 days of CDE's receipt of your background check to avoid having to submit another set. (CDE only may retain a background check for 30 days in the absence of a qualifying application.)
- View the fingerprint submission requirements
Determine the content area you are qualified to teach:
- Choose an allowable endorsement area.
- For entry into a Colorado-approved alternative preparation program:
- Elementary or special education generalist candidates must pass the Colorado State Board of Education-approved elementary content exam
- Early childhood education candidates may pass the Colorado State Board of Education-approved elementary content exam OR early childhood education content exam
- Candidates for K-12 or secondary (7-12) endorsements may:
- Hold a bachelor's degree or higher degree from a regionally accredited institution in the endorsement area ; OR
- Have 24 semester hours of college/university-level coursework in the endorsement area, as outlined on the content evaluation worksheets and verified against official transcripts; OR
- Pass a Colorado State Board of Education-approved assessment for the endorsement area.
- A classroom teaching position that matches the endorsement area you selected in step 3
- An agreement with a state-approved designated agency that offers an approved alternative teacher preparation program
- A statement of assurance (SOA) completed and signed by you, your district/employer and your designated agency
Note: Even if you have not yet completed this step, you can still submit an application to get started on the alternative pathway. (Please see the Apply section below for details.)
- Learn more about teaching positions in Colorado
- Find a program by viewing the list of designated agencies for alternative teacher preparation (Be sure to select "alternative" in the drop-down menu under "type.)
- Download the Statement of Assurance (SOA) form (PDF)
- Review the top questions a candidate should ask a designated agency
Once you have completed at least steps 1, 2 and 3 above:
- View the checklist for alternative teacher candidates
- Apply for an alternative teacher license using the COOL system (via link at the bottom of the checklist)
- Applications submitted prior to a candidate's employment and program enrollment (step 4) will be evaluated to ensure content requirements for the selected endorsement area (steps 1, 2 and 3) are met.
- You will be notified via email upon determination of qualification.
- You will have 60 days to complete step 4 (instructions will be provided in the notification) and obtain an alternative teacher license.