The state should require alternate route programs to limit admission to candidates with strong academic backgrounds while also being flexible to the needs of nontraditional candidates. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.
California has two alternate route programs, the District Intern Credential and the University Intern Credential.
Academic Proficiency Requirements: California does not have a minimum GPA for entry into its alternate route programs. California does require that District and University Intern applicants pass The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST), although passing scores on the SAT, ACT, or mathematics and English Language AP exams may satisfy this requirement. Applicants are further required to complete a U.S. Constitution course or pass an examination given by a regionally accredited university or college.
Subject-Matter Testing Requirements: California's District Intern applicants seeking a single- or multiple-subject credential and University Intern applicants seeking a single-subject credential must show subject-matter mastery through either passing the appropriate subject-matter exam or passing a Commission-approved subject-matter preparation program. University Intern applicants seeking a multi-subject credential must pass a subject-matter exam. In addition, District Intern applicants seeking a Bilingual Authorization must pass the appropriate California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET): World Languages (Languages Other Than English) exam or an equivalent local-level assessment.
Coursework Requirements: California does not have subject-specific coursework requirements for its alternate route applicants.
California Code of Regulations § 80033, 80413 California Education Code sections 44325; 44335; 44380-44387; 44452 Intern Specific Preconditions, Standards and Laws Related to Accreditation: http://www.ctc.ca.gov/educator-prep/intern/files/Intern-Specific-Preconditions-Standards-and-Laws-Related-to-Accreditation.pdf California Alternative Route to Certification (Intern Programs): http://www.ctc.ca.gov/educator-prep/intern/ District Intern Credentials: http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/cl707b.pdf University Intern Credentials: http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/cl402a.pdf
Increase academic requirements for admission.
California should require a rigorous test appropriate for Intern candidates who have already completed a bachelor's degree, such as the GRE, or a GPA of 3.0 or higher to assess academic standing.
Eliminate basic skills test requirement.
California should continue to accept SAT, ACT, or AP scores and eliminate the 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 that a person should have acquired in middle school—and are inappropriate for candidates who have already earned a bachelor's degree.
California declined to respond to NCTQ's analyses.
5A: Program Entry
Alternate route teachers need the advantage of a strong academic background. The intent of alternate route programs is to provide a route for those who already have strong subject-matter knowledge to enter the profession, allowing them to focus on gaining the professional skills needed for the classroom. This intent is based on the fact that academic caliber has been shown to correlate with classroom success. Programs that admit candidates with a weak grasp of both subject matter and professional knowledge can put the new teacher in an impossible position, where he or she is much more likely to experience failure and perpetuate high attrition rates.
Academic requirements for admission to alternate routes should set a high bar. Assessing a teacher candidate's college GPA and/or aptitude scores can provide useful and reliable measures of academic caliber, provided that the state does not set the floor too low. States should limit teacher preparation to the top half of the college population. In terms of assessments, relying on basic skills tests designed for those without a college degree is ineffective for alternate route candidates. Appropriate assessments could include the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or candidates' SAT/ACT scores.
In addition to evaluating incoming candidates' academic aptitude, programs should also determine whether applicants have the content knowledge they need prior to acceptance into the program. This determination prior to admission is important given that most alternative certification programs do not require additional content coursework during the course of their program. This determination should be made by using the state's subject matter licensure test.
In some cases, alternative route programs require candidates to have a major in the subject they will be licensed to teach. While ensuring content knowledge through an adequate test is essential, rigid coursework requirements can dissuade talented, qualified individuals from pursuing a career in teaching. By allowing candidates to prove their rich content knowledge by testing out of coursework requirements, professionals who have a wealth of relevant, subject-specific experience can pass their expertise on to students. With such provisions, states can maintain high standards for potential teachers, while utilizing experts of respective fields, such as differential mathematics and biology. For instance, an engineer who wishes to teach physics should face no coursework obstacles as long as he or she can prove sufficient knowledge of physics on an adequate test. A good test with a sufficiently high passing score is certainly as reliable as courses listed on a transcript, if not more so. A testing exemption would also allow alternate routes to recruit college graduates with strong liberal arts backgrounds to work as elementary teachers, even if their transcripts fail to meet state requirements.