Alternate Route

Make the Leap from Parapro to Teacher

The Alternate Route program at WSU Tri-Cities recognizes the expertise that paraprofessionals bring with them from the classroom and works with them to apply those skills in the university.

As a PESB-approved residency teacher preparation program, the WSU Tri-Cities teacher certification program and district partners have developed a new alternate route to teaching certification for paraeducators currently in the districts (Route 1) with an emphasis on “grow your own teacher” strategies in order to address district staffing needs.

The program provides support for paraeducators to receive credit for prior learning and work experiences, enroll in university courses, and receive an Elementary Education BA degree and K-8 endorsement and either a Special Education or ELL/Bilingual Education add-on endorsement.

We partner with the Grandview School District, Kennewick School District, Pasco School District, Prosser School District, Richland School District, Sunnyside School District, and Walla Walla School District to develop a program based on district needs.

We are currently taking applications to join our next cohort in May 2019.  The deadline to apply to the program is January 31, 2019.  Prospective students should complete the following by January 31.

Program prerequisites ensure that candidates are ready to apply subject knowledge to their education courses.  Click here for a list of program prerequisites.

Students in the alternate route program earn academic credit through in-person evening courses with university faculty, courses situated in students’ jobs in area schools, and Prior Learning Assessments that let students how how they have met Washington’s teacher competencies through prior education or work experiences.

The program has been designed for students to complete coursework and become certified teachers in two years.

Each participant receives specialized advising and support from the grant coordinator. Beyond planning classes, you will learn about navigating campus policies and procedures, learn about mentoring in your school work site, and learn how to prepare for exams such as the NES and West-E.

photo of Lindsay Lightner
Lindsay LightnerCoordinator, College of EducationFloyd 207M509-372-7366

Applicants may be eligible for financial aid that recruits teachers for high need areas.  These funds may include conditional loan scholarships from the State of Washington, the federal TEACH Grants, and WSU grant programs.  Students may still complete the alternative route program even if they do not receive these funds.

Sample costs of attendance can be found here.

Many of our students have had their tuition paid by grants and financial aid.  All students are highly encouraged to apply for WSU scholarships and complete the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA).

As condition of the Washington State Alternative Route grant program, candidates who receive the block grant conditional loan scholarship are required to teach for two years in a Washington K-12 public school, in a high-need endorsement area, in exchange for each year of funding received from PESB.

Our school district partners work with candidates to find mutually beneficial placements. The Career Development Office offers workshops on how to develop a job search strategy, write a compelling résumé and cover letter, and sharpen interview skills – all of which will help students land a job in today’s competitive market.

See how you can become career-ready with a major in Elementary Education.

You will take courses from a range of faculty members in elementary education and in  your specialization area. All faculty are dedicated to integrating your work-based experiences with your university courses.

Feel free to contact a lead faculty member if you have specific questions about your current coursework.

Judy Morrison
Judy MorrisonAssociate Professor, Teaching & LearningFloyd 207U509-372-7176
Eric Johnson
Eric JohnsonAssociate Professor, Teaching & LearningFloyd 207W509-372-7304
Sara Sorensen Petersen
Sara PetersenClinical Assistant Professor, Special EducationFloyd 207K509-372-7395
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