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.
Delaware has six routes to alternate certification: the Alternative Route for Licensure and Certification (ARTC) program, the Delaware Transition to Teaching Partnership (DT3P), the Masters Plus Certification Program (MPCP) in special education, Teach For America (TFA), the Relay Graduate School of Education, and Ninety-One Days in Lieu of Student Teaching.
Academic proficiency requirements: Delaware requires candidates for admission to all teacher preparation programs, including alternate route programs, to have one of the following: 1) a minimum GPA of 3.0, 2) a "GPA in the top 50th percentile for coursework completed during the most recent two years of the applicants general education, whether secondary or post-secondary," or 3) "a score deemed to be college ready on a test of general knowledge" such as the Praxis, ACT, or SAT.
Subject-matter testing requirements: Delaware, beginning April 2018, will require that all alternate route candidates pass a subject-matter exam, if applicable and available after they are already accepted into the program; applicants are not required to pass a subject-matter exam at the point of program admission.
Coursework requirements: Delaware, beginning April 2018, will require that all alternate route applicants have a B.A. in a major, with at least 30 credits, related to a candidate's intended teaching field. The state does not offer a test-out option for this coursework.
Delaware Department of Education, Alternate Routes: https://deeds.doe.k12.de.us/registration/deeds_reg_artc.aspx 14 Delaware Code 1260: http://delcode.delaware.gov/title14/c012/sc06/index.shtml 14 Delaware Code 290: http://regulations.delaware.gov/AdminCode/title14/200/290.pdf
Increase academic requirements for admission.
Delaware should require a rigorous test appropriate for 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.
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 in lieu of needing a major in a particular subject area. Because exacting coursework requirements could dissuade talented individuals who lack precisely the right courses but possess the requisite subject-matter expertise from pursuing a career in teaching, it is important that alternate route candidates have an opportunity to demonstrate subject-matter knowledge through a rigorous test.
Delaware was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.
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.