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.
The admission requirements for Minnesota's alternate route exceed those of traditional preparation programs and are flexible regarding the needs of nontraditional candidates.
Minnesota passed new legislation on alternate route programs in March 2011. The new law increases the minimum GPA requirement from 2.5 to 3.0. Waivers for this requirement may be granted for candidates meeting specific criteria that have not yet been determined.
In addition, Minnesota now requires that all alternate route candidates pass a content-area and a pedagogy examination prior to admission. Candidates must also pass a test of basic skills.
Neither a major nor specific coursework is required; as a result there is no need for a test-out option.
Minnesota SF 40 amending 122A.245
Consider changing timeframe for pedagogy test.
Minnesota is commended for the significant changes the state has made to its alternate route admission requirements. As it moves forward, Minnesota might want to reconsider requiring the pedagogy test prior to admission. 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.
Ensure that pending waivers for minimum GPA requirements are appropriate.
Waiver criteria should offer accommodation to career changers with relevant work experience. 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.
Minnesota is commended for requiring all applicants to demonstrate content knowledge on a subject-matter test. However, 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.
The state contended that NCTQ's recommendations presume that the basic skills tests are set at a middle school equivalence. "The MTLE tests that were developed in 2009-2010 and launched in September 2010 were developed to reflect a threshold of college experience, which far exceeds the implied level of rigor for these tests."
The MTLE tests may indeed reflect a higher level of rigor and proficiency than the teacher certification tests of most other states. NCTQ encourages the state to publish data that supports this contention.