Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy
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.
Indiana offers two alternate routes: the Transition to Teaching (T2T) program and an Advanced Degree License program. Candidates in the T2T program must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. For applicants with at least five years of professional experience the minimum GPA requirement is 2.5.
Indiana's Advanced Degree licensure candidates must have a postgraduate degree in the designated teacher shortage area they plan to teach. There is no minimum GPA requirement for this alternate route.
Secondary applicants to the T2T program must have a major in the subject area they plan to teach or five years' experience in a related field. Elementary candidates are not required to have a specific major for admission to T2T. The state does not allow applicants to test out of the coursework requirements.
The state also requires applicants to the T2T program to pass a test of basic skills for admission. Subject-matter testing requirements for admission to T2T are left to the discretion of individual programs. The state will accept a master's degree or equivalent scores on the SAT, ACT, and GRE in lieu of the basic skills requirement.
Advanced Degree applicants must demonstrate content knowledge on a subject-matter test for the area in which they seek certification. The Advanced Degree license program also requires that individuals have at least one year of experience teaching students in a middle, high school or college setting.
Indiana Code 20-28-4-5 and 20-28-5-15
Require all applicants to pass a subject-matter test for admission.
While Indiana is commended for requiring Advanced Degree program applicants to demonstrate content knowledge on a subject-matter test, it is strongly recommended that the state extend this requirement to T2T candidates. Although the state is commended for requiring these candidates to show evidence of above-average academic performance with a minimum GPA requirement, the state is also responsible for setting policy that ensures that nontraditional candidates have the subject-matter knowledge required to teach. Individual T2T programs should feel encouraged to exceed these minimums, but without state guidelines there is no assurance that T2T candidates will have demonstrated the necessary aptitude prior to entering the classroom.
Offer flexibility in fulfilling coursework requirements.
Indiana 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.
Consider flexibility in fulfilling teaching experience requirement.
Indiana should consider whether the minimum teaching experience requirement might unnecessarily disqualify talented individuals 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, although Indiana is recognized for allowing candidates to use equivalent scores to fulfill this admission criterion. 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.
Indiana recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis but noted, without elaboration, that new legislation related to this topic is pending.
Further the state added that T2T candidates are required to complete a content test prior to licensure and that a majority of programs do require it for admission. Advanced degree candidates can use graduate teaching assistanceships and adjunct university work to meet the teaching requirement. The state also reiterated that a basic skills test is required for admission to T2T programs. It is not used as an end-of-program assessment.
Finally, Indiana contended that all alternate route programs were required to have in place alternate ways to meet standards other than coursework (use of prior experience, testing, etc.) and that programs had to submit documentation of such measures to the state.
NCTQ encourages Indiana to establish policy that clearly articulates the guidelines outlined in the state's response, particularly if a test-out option can be used in place of the major requirement. Rather than relying on informal understandings about policy expectations, formal policy would leave no doubt about admission standards for alternate route programs.