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.
Indiana offers several alternate routes: the Advanced Degree License program; the Career Specialist Permit; and Transition to Teaching (T2T) programs, including the Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship, Teach For America (TFA), and TNTP's Indianapolis Teaching Fellows. Some Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) programs also include a T2T program.
Academic Proficiency Requirements: Indiana's alternate route academic proficiency requirements for admission vary by program; however, all candidates must pass the Indiana Core Academic Skills Assessment (CASA), or fulfill the basic skills requirement with qualifying SAT, ACT, or GRE scores or a master's degree.
The Advanced Degree License programs do not require a minimum GPA or a test of academic proficiency.
Career Specialist Permit applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA.
The T2T programs require that applicants seeking a PreK-3 or K-6 certification meet one of the following in order to be eligible for program entry: possess a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA; possess a bachelor's with a 2.5 GPA and have five years of professional experience; or possess a bachelor's degree and pass the relevant subject-matter exam. For T2T applicants seeking a certification to teach in 5th through 12th grades, the same admissions options are offered except that the bachelor's degree must be in or related to an applicant's intended teaching area. An exception is made for those who hold a bachelors' degree (any major) and pass the relevant subject-matter exam. An additional option is provided, which allows candidates to gain T2T program admission if they possess a graduate degree in the candidate's intended teaching subject and pass the state-approved content area examination(s) in the candidate's intended teaching subject.
Subject-matter Testing Requirements: Indiana's alternate route subject-matter requirements for admission vary by program.
Advanced Degree License program applicants must pass the relevant subject-matter exam as well as the state's secondary pedagogy test in order to apply for the program. Career Specialist Permit applicants must also pass a subject-matter exam in order to apply.
T2T applicants do not have to pass a subject-matter exam in their intended teaching area in order to be admitted into the program; however, all candidates must pass the appropriate subject-matter exams as a condition of program completion.
Coursework Requirements: Indiana's alternate route subject-specific coursework requirements for admission vary by program.
Advanced Degree License program applicants must have a master's degree or higher in their intended teaching subject, as well as at least one year of experience teaching students in a middle school, high school or college classroom setting.
Career Specialist Permit applicants, who are eligible to teach specific content in secondary grades, must have a bachelor's degree in a content area for which secondary licenses are issued and evidence of having completed 6,000 clock hours of non-teaching experience in the last five years related to the candidate's intended content area.
Indiana does not make any requirements for subject-matter coursework as a condition for admission to T2T programs; however, individual programs have their own guidelines.
Applicants to the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship must have majored in or have at least 30 college-level credits in a STEM field.
TNTP's Indianapolis's Teaching Fellows program requires coursework for some certifications (e.g., biology for grades 6-12, science for middle school), but it offers applicants a test-out option to meet these requirements by passing the relevant subject-matter assessment.
TFA and MAT programs do not require applicants to take subject-specific coursework as a prerequisite for program admission.
IC 20-28-4-5 511 IAC 16-4-6 Indiana Department of Education, Alternative Licensure Paths: http://www.doe.in.gov/licensing/alternative-licensure-paths Indiana Department of Education, Educator Preparation Programs, Alternate Certification Programs and Fellowships: http://www.doe.in.gov/licensing/educator-preparation-programs-epps#AlternatePro Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships: http://woodrow.org/fellowships/ww-teaching-fellowships/info/ww-teaching-fellowships-application/ Teach For America: https://www.teachforamerica.org/join-tfa/how-to-apply TNTP, Indianapolis Teaching Fellows: http://tntpteachingfellows.org/indianapolis/who-we-want
Increase academic requirements for admission for all candidates.
Indiana 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.
Require all applicants to pass a subject-matter test for admission.
Indiana should require all alternate route candidates to pass a subject-matter test prior to admission to an alternate route program. Alternate route programs provide nontraditional candidates with an opportunity to use professional knowledge and skills, including subject-matter knowledge, in the classroom. However, because teachers without sufficient subject-matter knowledge place students at risk, the subject-matter test serves as an important guardrail for alternate route candidates.
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 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.
Eliminate basic skills test requirement.
Indiana should continue to accept SAT, ACT, or GRE 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, although Indiana is recognized for allowing candidates to use equivalent scores to fulfill this admission criterion. Basic skills tests measure minimum competency—essentially skills that a person should have acquired in middle school—and are inappropriate for candidates who have already earned a bachelor's degree.
Indiana was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced 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.