Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy
The state should provide an alternate route that is free from regulatory obstacles that limit its usage and providers.
According to both state code and the certification application, the Alternative Baccalaureate Level Certificate (ABC) is only available for grades 6-12 certification to teach biology, chemistry, English language arts, general science, general social studies, geography, health education, history, mathematics, physical education and physics, or for K-12 certification for foreign language, dance, music, theater or visual arts. There are no limitations on grades or subject areas for the Preliminary Certificate or the Special Alternative Certificate (SAC).
Alabama authorizes only colleges and universities to offer alternate route programs. Coursework can only be taken at regionally accredited institutions of higher education with state-approved teacher education programs. Further, the specific requirements are articulated in terms of semester hours, effectively precluding non-higher education providers. Although not an authorized route, Teach For America does operate in the state.
Education Code 290-3-2-.11(6).a, 290-3-2-.06
Encourage diversity of alternate route providers.
Alabama should specifically authorize alternate route programs run by local school districts and nonprofits, as well as institutions of higher education. A good diversity of providers helps all programs, both university- and non-university-based, to improve.
Broaden usage for all alternate routes.
Alabama should reconsider grade-level and subject-area restrictions on its ABC route. Alternate routes should not be programs of last resort for hard-to-staff subjects, grade levels or geographic areas but rather a way to expand the teacher pipeline throughout the state.
Alabama asserted that it does not treat the alternate route as a program of last resort or restrict the availability of alternate routes to certain subjects, grades and geographic areas. Alabama stated that it does not place restrictions on providers.
The state explained that Teach For America has been working in Alabama since the 2010-2011 school year and is expanding its operation. The state added that the Emergency Certificate, although not an alternate route, is the only certificate that requires superintendents to indicate that no qualified applicant was available to fill the vacancy. Neither the ABC nor the Preliminary Certificate approach requires such verification. Also, there are no geographic restrictions on the use of alternate route certificates.
The state reiterated the subject-area and grade-level restrictions on the ABC approach outlined in NCTQ's analysis and noted that this only excludes early childhood, elementary education and special education. All teaching fields are available through the Special Alternative Certificate. Although Preliminary Certificates are rarely issued for teaching fields, an application could be submitted for any teaching field.
Alabama contended that although colleges and universities may choose to enroll candidates in required courses, they do not provide the ABC approach and are not held accountable for the success of program completers. Institutions of higher education may choose to offer a masters-level alternative approach to the Class A license. Colleges and universities do not provide the Preliminary Certificate approach.
Based on the state's response, it is clear that Alabama supports alternative certification. NCTQ encourages the state to remove any restrictions on usage or providers that may present obstacles to alternate routes being utilized to their full potential.