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.
While only some of the admission requirements for Alabama's alternate routes exceed those for traditional preparation programs, the state does require evidence of subject-matter knowledge and allows flexibility for nontraditional candidates.
Alabama has three alternate routes: the Alternative Baccalaureate Level Certificate (ABC) Approach, the Preliminary Certificate Approach and the Alternative Class A Master's Degree-Level program.
Alabama requires ABC and Alternative Class A candidates to demonstrate prior academic performance with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Candidates to the Preliminary Certificate route must have a master's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. All applicants must demonstrate content knowledge with a major in the intended teaching field or with a passing score on a subject-area exam.
All alternate route candidates are required to pass a subject-matter exam. Applicants are also required to pass a test of basic skills.
A passing score on a subject-matter test may be used in lieu of coursework requirements for all alternate routes. The state is commended for allowing candidates lacking sufficient subject-area coursework to demonstrate their knowledge on a test.
Screen all candidates for academic ability.
Although Alabama requires Preliminary Certificate applicants to demonstrate prior academic performance, the state should require that all candidates provide some evidence of good academic performance. As is the case for Preliminary Certificate candidates, the standard should be higher than what is required of traditional teacher candidates, such as a GPA of 2.75 or higher. 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.
Eliminate basic skills test requirement.
While Alabama is commended for requiring all applicants to demonstrate content knowledge on a subject-matter test, 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—and are inappropriate for candidates who have already earned a bachelor's degree. The state should eliminate the basic skills test requirement or, at a minimum, accept the equivalent in SAT, ACT or GRE scores.
Alabama was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced our analysis.
Alabama added that it is beginning to modify and enhance testing requirements and that serious consideration will be given to the NCTQ recommendation that the basic skills requirement should be eliminated for individuals who hold at least a bachelor's degree. The state asserted that "Alabama teachers were involved in validating the three tests currently in use, based on their perception of what teachers need to know in order to teach effectively; and that some potential applicants for alternative approach certificates have not been able to attain passing scores."