Alternate route programs are increasingly serving schools in rural areas that may struggle to recruit new teachers. In this study, ten principals of middle schools from rural areas of Mississippi were interviewed regarding their perceptions of alternate route programs’ recruitment, selection, preparation, mentorship, support, and retention practices. Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews suggests that principals of rural schools had limited experience with alternatively certified teachers and, overall, their views were generally positive. They believed that these programs would help meet the high need for teachers in the state, and alternate route candidates may provide benefits to middle school students due to their greater content knowledge, experience, and maturity. However, they also held concerns regarding the absence of student teaching, alternatively certified teachers’ readiness for the classroom, and the amount and quality of support and mentoring in the first year of teaching.

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