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.
Delaware has four routes to alternative certification. The Alternative Route for Licensure and Certification (ARTC) program, the Masters Plus Certification program (MPCP) in special education, the Teach For America program and the Delaware Teaching Fellows.
The state does not require ARTC or MCPC applicants to show evidence of past academic performance, such as a minimum GPA, as an entrance standard. ARTC candidates must have a major in the content area that they plan to teach. MCPC candidates must be accepted into a graduate program using the university defined requirements.
The state does not set additional requirements for the admission standards to those already in place for the Teach For America or the Delaware Teaching Fellows.
ARTC applicants are not required to pass a subject-matter test prior to admission. Candidates must pass a test of basic skills and a subject-matter test by the end of the next fiscal year after hire. The subject-matter test cannot be used to test out of coursework requirements.
MCPC candidates are required to pass a test of basic skills. Applicants pursing secondary special education must pass a subject-matter test or have 30 credit hours in one of the core academic areas.
Teach For America and Delaware Teaching Fellow applicants are required to pass a subject-matter test prior to admission and may use a passing score on the test to demonstrate subject knowledge in lieu of a content-specific major.
Screen candidates for academic ability.
Delaware should require that candidates to ARTC 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.
Require all applicants to pass a subject-matter test for admission.
Although Delaware requires Teach For America and Delaware Teaching Fellow candidates to pass a subject-matter test prior to admission, the requirement that candidates in other routes have up to a year from the date of hire to demonstrate content knowledge is ineffective. 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.
Delaware 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, particularly since individuals have up to a year to take and pass the test. 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. The state should eliminate the basic skills test requirement or, at a minimum, accept the equivalent in SAT, ACT or GRE scores.
Delaware was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.