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.
Kentucky classifies eight routes as alternate routes to teacher certification: Exceptional Work Experience Certification, Local District Training Program Certification, College Faculty Certification, Adjunct Instructor Certification, Veterans of the Armed Services Certification, University-Based Alternative Route to Certification, Institute Alternative Route to Certification and Teach For America (TFA) Alternative Route to Certification.
Some of the state's alternate routes have admission requirements that exceed those of traditional programs, and some of its routes are flexible with regard to the needs of nontraditional candidates, but there is no one route that fully meets the criteria for this goal.
Candidates in the Exceptional Work Experience Certification program must have a minimum GPA of 2.5, or 3.0 in the last 60 hours of coursework. Candidates must have a major in their content area or a passing score on a subject-matter test. They must also have 10 years of work experience in the area in which certification is being sought.
Candidates in the Local District Training Program Certification program must have a minimum 2.5 GPA; an exception to this GPA requirement may be granted for candidates demonstrating exceptional experience. Applicants must also have a subject-area major or five years of related work experience and pass a subject-area test. A subject-matter test cannot be used to demonstrate subject knowledge in the absence of a major or related work experience.
Candidates in the College Faculty Certification program must have a master's degree and five years of full-time teaching experience in the targeted content area at an institution of higher education. Candidates are not required to demonstrate prior academic performance, such as a minimum GPA standard, or pass a basic skills or subject-matter test.
Candidates in the Veterans of the Armed Services Certification program must have a major in the content area being sought with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Candidates must also pass a subject-matter test and have six years of active duty service.
Candidates in the University-Based Alternative Route to Certification program must have a bachelor's or a master's degree and meet university admission standards.
Candidates in the Institute Alternative Route to Certification program must have a bachelor's degree with a major in the targeted certification area and a cumulative GPA of 3.0, as well as minimum scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Candidates for math/science certification must also have a minimum score of 450 on the quantitative section of the GRE. Those with professional degrees are exempt from the GRE requirement. Candidates must also pass a subject-matter test.
Candidates in the TFA Alternative Route to Certification program must have a bachelor's degree and meet participation criteria for the TFA program. The TFA Alternative Route to Certification is a pilot program in Kentucky and will begin in the 2011-2012 school year.
Set high academic requirements for admission for all routes.
While a minimum GPA requirement is a first step toward ensuring that candidates are of good academic standing, the current standard of 2.5 does not serve as a sufficient indicator of past academic performance. Kentucky should consistently require that candidates in all programs 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. Some accommodation in this standard may be appropriate for career changers. 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.
Extend subject-matter test requirement to all applicants.
While Kentucky is commended for requiring candidates for the Veterans of the Armed Services Certification, the Institute Alternative Route to Certification and the TFA Alternative Route to Certification to demonstrate content knowledge on a subject-matter test, it is strongly recommended that the state extend this requirement to all of its candidates. 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.
Set minimum admission requirements for all alternate route programs.
Kentucky should establish minimum admission requirements for all of its alternate routes. The state is responsible for setting policy that ensures that nontraditional candidates have the academic ability and subject-matter knowledge required to teach. Particularly in the case of the University-Based Alternative Route to Certification program, the universities should feel encouraged to exceed these minimums, but without state guidelines there is no assurance that all alternate route candidates will have demonstrated the necessary aptitude prior to entering the classroom.
Offer flexibility in fulfilling coursework requirements.
Kentucky 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 consolidating alternate routes.
Although Kentucky's numerous options show the state's commitment to alternative certification, the state may want to consider consolidating some of its routes.
Kentucky was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.