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 they do not exceed the requirements for traditional preparation programs, the admission requirements for some of Mississippi's alternate routes do consider an applicant's past academic performance and subject-matter knowledge.
Mississippi offers four alternate routes to certification: Mississippi Alternate Path to Quality Teachers, Master of Arts in Teaching, Teach Mississippi Institute and American Board Certification for Teacher Excellence (ABCTE).
The Mississippi Alternate Path to Quality Teachers requires candidates to have a minimum GPA of 2.5 or a 2.75 in their respective major. Candidates who graduated more than seven years prior to admission must have an overall GPA of 2.0. Candidates in the Master of Arts in Teaching, Teach Mississippi Institute and ABCTE programs do not require applicants to demonstrate prior academic performance.
All candidates must pass the Praxis I basic skills test. Candidates in the ABCTE program must pass that program's own subject-area assessment; all other candidates must pass the Praxis II subject-matter test.
Neither a major nor specific coursework is required; as a result there is no need for a test-out option.
Screen all candidates for academic ability.
While Mississippi is recognized for requiring candidates to the Mississippi Alternate Path to Quality Teachers alternate route program to provide some evidence of good academic performance, the current standard of 2.5 does not serve as a sufficient indicator of past academic performance. The standard should be higher than what is required of traditional teacher candidates, such as a GPA of 2.75 or higher. The state should also extend this requirement to all alternate route candidates. 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.
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. Passage of a basic skills test provides no assurance that the candidate has the appropriate subject-matter knowledge needed for the classroom. The state should eliminate the basic skills test requirement or, at a minimum, accept the equivalent in SAT, ACT or GRE scores.
Mississippi recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.