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.
While the admission requirements for Massachusetts's alternate routes do not exceed those for traditional preparation programs, the state does require evidence of subject-matter knowledge and allows flexibility for nontraditional candidates.
Massachusetts classifies the Route Three District-Based Initial Licensing Program and the Route Four Performance Review Program as alternate routes to certification. The Route Four option is a performance review designed to allow non-certified teachers to gain their license. As such, Route Four is not included in this analysis.
The Route Three District-Based Initial Licensing Program requires all applicants to hold a Massachusetts Preliminary License for admission. To obtain a preliminary license, applicants must have a bachelor's degree, but they are not required to demonstrate evidence of past academic performance, such as a minimum GPA. Candidates must pass a basic skills test and a subject-matter test. For candidates seeking admission in early childhood or elementary education and for teachers of students with disabilities, additional coursework is required.
Except in the case of elementary and early childhood education, neither a major nor specific coursework is required; as a result there is no need for a test-out option.
Massachusetts State Regulations 603 CMR 7.00
Screen candidates for academic ability.
Massachusetts should require that candidates to 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.
Eliminate basic skills test requirement.
While Massachusetts is commended for requiring all applicants to demonstrate content knowledge on a subject-matter test, 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. The state should eliminate the basic skills test requirement or, at a minimum, accept the equivalent in SAT, ACT or GRE scores.
Offer flexibility in fulfilling coursework requirements.
While the state is recognized for its attempt to include pedagogical coursework that may increase effectiveness prior to entering the classroom for early childhood, elementary and special education teachers, Massachusetts should allow candidates who already have the requisite knowledge and skills to demonstrate such by passing a rigorous test.
Massachusetts recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.