Alternate Routes Policy
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.
Maine offers five alternate route preparation paths: the Adjunct Teaching Path (ATP), the Advanced Degree Alternative Path (ADAP), the Core Academic Preparation Path (CAP), the Clinical Practice Path (CP), and the One-Year Supervised Practicum Path (OYSP).
Academic Proficiency Requirements: Maine does not require its alternate route applicants to demonstrate prior academic performance through a GPA or test of academic proficiency like the SAT, ACT, or GRE. Applicants must pass the Praxis Core basic skills exam; those with a master's degree or higher are exempt from this requirement. The state also requires ATP and CAP applicants to pass a pedagogy test upon admission.
Subject-matter Testing Requirements: Maine requires that its alternate route applicants pass a subject-matter test for program completion, but it is unclear in current state regulations that this is a requirement for admission.
Although Maine requires alternate route applicants to take a subject-matter exam, the state does not require elementary and elementary special education applicants to pass a stand-alone assessment of early reading prior to entering the classroom as the teacher of record, which in turn does not ensure that these applicants adequately understand the five research-based instructional components of early reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Because elementary and special education teacher preparation in reading are assessed in 2-C: Elementary Reading and 4-B: Special Education Reading, these policies are not considered as part of the assessment for Alternate Route Program Entry.
Coursework Requirements: Maine requires that applicants meet subject-specific coursework requirements related to their intended teaching area. Candidates may waive these coursework requirements if they achieve passing scores on the relevant subject-matter exam.
Maine Educator Preparation Programs Handbook for State Program Approval: https://www1.maine.gov/doe/highered/teacherprep/Maine%20Educator%20Preparation%20Programs.pdf
Increase academic requirements for admission.
Maine 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.
Maine was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis, and stated that new statutes and rules will soon address alternative certification admissions requirements.
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.