Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy
The state should require alternate route programs to exceed the admission requirements of traditional preparation programs while also being flexible to the needs of nontraditional candidates.
Alaska's alternate route program does not exceed the admission requirements of traditional preparation programs and does not provide flexibility for nontraditional candidates.
Alaska Transition to Teaching (AKT2) requires that candidates have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and are able to pass PRAXIS I, a test of basic skills. Candidates must have a degree in an endorsable content area. The state does not allow AKT2 candidates to test out of degree requirements.
Applicants are not required to pass a subject-matter test for admission.
Raise academic requirements for admission.
While a minimum GPA requirement is a first step toward ensuring that candidates are of good academic standing, the current standard of 2.5 does not serve as a sufficient indicator of past academic performance. The standard should be higher than what is required of traditional teacher candidates, such as a GPA of 2.75 or higher. Some accommodation in this standard may be appropriate for career changers. Alternatively, the state could require one of the standardized tests of academic proficiency commonly used in higher education for graduate admissions, such as the GRE.
Require applicants to pass a subject-matter test for admission.
The concept behind alternate routes is that the nontraditional candidate is able to concentrate on acquiring professional knowledge and skills because he or she has strong subject-area knowledge. Teachers without sufficient subject-matter knowledge place students at risk.
Offer flexibility in fulfilling coursework requirements.
Alaska should allow any candidate who already has the requisite knowledge and skills to demonstrate such by passing a rigorous test. Rigid coursework requirements could dissuade talented individuals who lack precisely the right courses from pursuing a career in teaching.
Eliminate basic skills test requirement.
The state's requirement that alternate route candidates pass a basic skills test is impractical and ineffectual. Basic skills tests measure minimum competency—essentially those skills that a person should have acquired in middle school. Passage of a basic skills test provides no assurance that the candidate has the appropriate subject-matter knowledge needed for the classroom. The state should eliminate the basic skills test requirement or, at a minimum, accept the equivalent in SAT, ACT or GRE scores.
Alaska recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.