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.
Illinois offers three alternate routes to certification: Alternative Certification, the Alternate Route to Certification and the Resident Teacher Certification Program.
Neither the Alternative Certification nor the Alternative Route to Teacher Certification programs requires candidates to demonstrate prior academic performance, such as a minimum GPA, as an entrance standard for the alternate route programs. The Resident Teacher Certification program requires that applicants have a minimum 3.0 GPA for admission.
All routes require candidates to pass a test of basic skills prior to admission. A subject-matter test is required for individuals to begin teaching in the classroom but not for initial entrance to the alternate route program.
Illinois also requires candidates to possess a minimum of five years' related work experience. Applicants planning to teach in Chicago public schools are exempt from the work-experience requirement. The Resident Teacher Certification program allows candidates to complete a year-long teacher preparation internship in lieu of the work-experience requirement.
Neither a major nor specific coursework is required; as a result there is no need for a test-out option.
105 ILCS 5/21-5b, 5c Administrative Code Section 25.442
Screen all candidates for academic ability.
Illinois is commended for requiring Resident Teacher-Illinois Teacher Corps program candidates to show evidence of above-average academic performance. The state should require that candidates to all of 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.
Consider flexibility in work-experience requirement.
The state should consider using a candidate's years of experience as a factor in the admission process rather than as a requirement for admission. Requiring a minimum number of years' work experience may disqualify potentially talented candidates unnecessarily. Recent graduates, who may demonstrate high academic ability and strong content knowledge but lack the minimum years of experience, would be needlessly excluded from the alternate route programs under this requirement. While the state attempts to provide an exemption for this requirement in the Resident Teacher Certification program, a year-long preparation internship may also dissuade nontraditional candidates 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. 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.
Illinois recognized the factual accuracy of NCTQ's analysis and noted that SB 1799, which proposes changes such that the state will have one alternate route with additional requirements, is pending.
NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.