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 the admission requirements for California's alternate routes do not exceed those for traditional preparation programs, the state does allow flexibility for nontraditional candidates.
California has two tracks for alternative certification, the District Intern Credential and the University Intern Credential. The University Intern Credential allows individuals currently enrolled in a college or university to enter the classroom while they complete coursework requirements. The state has established no admission criteria for this route; requirements for admission are left to the discretion of the specific college or university.
For the District Intern Credential, California does not require candidates to demonstrate prior academic performance, such as a minimum GPA, as an entrance standard for the alternate route program.
California District Intern Credential applicants must pass a test of basic skills. SAT, ACT or GRE scores may be used in place of the basic skills test requirement. Candidates are further required to complete a U.S. Constitution course or pass an examination given by a regionally accredited university or college.
While California's District Intern Credential program requires candidates pursuing multi-subject certification to pass a subject-matter test, the state does not require a content-specific test for single subject intern certification. In the 2009 edition of the Yearbook, California required that all candidates pass a subject-matter test for both the district- and university-based programs; this policy has changed. Single subject teachers can now demonstrate subject-matter proficiency either through subject-specific program completion or by passing the subject-matter test.
Set minimum admission requirements for all alternate route programs.
California should establish minimum admission requirements for all of its alternate routes. The state is responsible for setting policy that ensures that nontraditional candidates have the academic ability and subject-matter knowledge required to teach. Universities and colleges should feel encouraged to exceed these minimums, but without state guidelines there is no assurance that University Interns will have demonstrated the necessary aptitude prior to entering the classroom.
Screen candidates for academic ability.
California should require that candidates to its alternate routes provide some evidence of good academic performance. 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.
Reinstate subject-matter test requirement for all certification applicants.
While California is recognized for requiring multi-subject candidates to demonstrate content knowledge on a test, it is strongly recommended that the state return to its previous policy and require that all candidates pass a subject-matter test. 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.
Eliminate basic skills test requirement.
The state's requirement that alternate route candidates pass a basic skills test is impractical and ineffectual. Although the state does allow candidates a waiver based on a range of evidence, California should consider eliminating the basic skills test requirement completely. 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. Passage of a basic skills test provides no assurance that the candidate has the appropriate subject-matter knowledge needed for the classroom.
California recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.