A Fair Chance: Simple steps to strengthen and diversify the teacher workforce

Breaking it down: Admissions tests

Use the teacher preparation program admissions process for undergraduate, graduate, and alternative route programs as an opportunity to identify weaknesses in content knowledge and then tailor the course of study to fill in gaps.

Testing for content knowledge as part of admission into the program offers immense promise, as teacher candidates take much of their content coursework well before they are admitted into a program. For undergraduate programs, screening needs to occur at an early enough stage in the college career that teacher candidates can take coursework to fill in any gaps, or choose a different major if they fall too far short. This step is even more critical for graduate and alternative route programs, as these programs rarely include time for additional content coursework. As an alternative to screening through a test, graduate programs could instead review incoming candidates' transcripts for relevant coursework, although this approach is more time-consuming for preparation programs.

The same test can be used for all program types – undergraduate, graduate, and alternative route programs. Additionally, you can likely use an existing test. For example, applicants could demonstrate mastery by furnishing AP and SAT subject test scores. Or, applicants could take the state's required teacher licensure content test – preferably one with separate passing scores for each subject. (If requiring the state's licensing test, programs may want to explore how to offer this as a no-cost option so that it is accessible to all college students.) A passing score early on could represent one less licensure test that they would need to take at the end of the program (depending on how long the score is valid). If a teacher candidate does not pass a test, she knows well in advance which subject she needs to study in greater depth prior to retaking a licensure test.

Content Knowledge Tests with Separate Scores in Every Subject
Content knowledge tests that provide separate scores in each subject ensure candidates' strength in one subject cannot overshadow weakness in another. The following list includes both single-subject and acceptable multiple-subject assessments.

• Advanced Placement Subject Tests (AP)
• International Baccalaureate Tests (IB)
• SAT II Subject Tests
• College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
• Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES)
• CBASE (acceptable for ELA, science, and social studies)
• Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE): Elementary Education K-6 test
• Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments (MEGA): Elementary Education Multi-content test
• TExES Core Subjects EC-6 (satisfactory for science and social studies)
• PRAXIS Elementary Education: Multi-Subject Tests (5001)