Alternative Routes for Administrator Certification

In PART 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS, R 380.101 Definitions, Rule 1, is added the following:


(b) “Administrator alternate route program” means pathways to certification offered by recognized state professional organizations based on experience or alternative preparation, or both, pursuant to section 1536 of 1976 PA 451, MCL 380.1536 and R 380.107a.  A state approved administrator alternate route program shall be determined by the department.


This is also a troubling addition. It was passed in our efforts to get Race to the Top funding in January 2011. These alternative routes are much easier. Why was this added, besides to get RTTT money, which we did not get? How will it raise standards or improve administration in Michigan? Who accredits or oversees quality? These questions are pertinent throughout the document.

R 380.102  Persons eligible to hold administrator certificates.

Rule 2. A person who has completed a state-board approved administrator preparation program or an approved administrator alternate route program may be issued an administrator’s certificate and basic endorsement as determined by the state board superintendent of public instruction under section 1536 of 1976 PA 451,


This takes out another level of approval, but sidestepping the State Board and giving sole authority to the superintendent. What is the rationale? There are several other cases where this change has been proposed in the changes. I do not think it is a good policy.

R 380.107a  Administrator’s certificate basic endorsement; alternate route requirements.

Rule 7a. (1) The department shall recognize alternative pathways for administrator certification under section 1536 of 1976 PA 451, MCL 380.1536.

(2) A state-approved administrator alternate route program shall be offered by an established state recognized professional organization.  An approved administrator alternate route program shall meet state board approved standards for principal or central office preparation in the areas of knowledge, dispositions, and performances. The approved standards-based alternate route program may include modules, coursework, or other professional learning activities.

(3) A candidate may be admitted to an administrator alternate route program to obtain an administrator’s certificate basic endorsement designation based on the assessment of a standards-based portfolio under 1 of the following categories:

(a) Category 1:  A candidate possesses a masters or higher degree from a college or university accredited by 1 of the regional accredited bodies recognized by the United States department of education.

(b) Category 2:  A candidate possesses a baccalaureate degree from a college or university accredited by 1 of the regional accredited bodies recognized by the United States department of education and has a minimum of 3 years of experience that meets at least 1 of the following:

(i) Successful experience as a prekindergarten to grade 12 school administrator. (ii)  Successful central office experience.

(iii) Management or leadership experience in fields other than prekindergarten to grade 12 school or district administration.


Does this mean that they need no education experience? They could have managed a McDonalds or their own business or lead a neighborhood block party. Three years of leadership experience in a setting other than a school without formal training in education does not prepare someone to be a school administrator. Providing someone with an alternate route to certification that includes an unspecified internship does not qualify them to lead a school. The outcome of successful school leadership is an effective learning environment that results in “effective people” not hot, timely burgers. They require different knowledge, skills and dispositions. We are preparing the future of Michigan.  There is too much at stake to lower the educational requirements of school leaders.

(4)  A candidate who is admitted under subrule (3)(a) or (3)(b)(iii) of this rule to an administrator alternate route program shall complete a supervised internship as determined by the alternate provider’s approved program.

(5) A candidate who possesses successful and valid experience may be recommended for the administrator certificate if the alternate route provider determines that all state board approved administrator standards (principal preparation or central office preparation) are met either by program completion or passage of an administrator examination as approved by the superintendent of public instruction, and completion of a supervised internship if required by subrule (4) of this rule.

(6) A candidate who does not meet all state board approved standards upon review of experience shall complete additional preparation based on the alternate route provider’s assessment of the standards-based portfolio and an individualized professional development plan.

(7) All program participants shall be supported by an assigned mentor or coach with expertise and school administrator experience.

(8) An alternate route provider shall annually evaluate mentor or coach effectiveness.


The above changes are much too vague. It could be a phone interview. Why lower standards and regulations for alternative routes when we are striving for higher standards in our schools? What is the agenda? According to the Experience Based Preparation found in the MDE’s document, Michigan’s Alternate Route to School Administrator Certification Table 3, this experience does not need to take place in a P-12 setting and an approved candidate does not necessarily have to complete any course work in education or educational leadership. They do have to complete an internship, but it is not comparable to the knowledge or experience gained through the completion of a graduate program in school administration. An internship is an opportunity to put into practice what one has learned and to deepen their current knowledge base. What educational leadership foundation does someone without a degree in education or leadership, and no experience in a school setting have to build off during their internship experience? The first six of the Michigan State Board of Education standards for administrators includes 183 indicators–43 knowledge based, 43 disposition based and 97 performance based. Will these candidates be handed the standards and told to exhibit them during their internships? An examination is not an appropriate means of measuring a candidate’s leadership dispositions or ability to display leadership performance in a school setting.

Rule 380.111b  Established state professional organization; enhanced endorsement. Rule 111b. (1) The state board shall approve standards and procedures for reviewing established state professional organizations’ programs to prepare and recommend candidates for administrator advanced performance and impact based enhanced endorsements.  The superintendent of public instruction shall make recommendations to the state board for the initial state approval of established state professional organizations, based on state-board approved standards and procedures.


I agree it should be state board approved, but why would they have the enhanced endorsements state board approved when the superintendent has authority over regular certification, which is more important.


About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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