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.
Nebraska's alternate route does not exceed the admission requirements of traditional preparation programs and does not provide flexibility for nontraditional candidates.
Nebraska offers an alternate route through the Transitional Teacher Certificate. The state does not require candidates to demonstrate prior academic performance, such as a minimum GPA, as an entrance standard specifically for the alternate route program. The state does require all teacher candidates, traditional or nontraditional, to have a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Candidates must pass a test of basic skills but are not required to demonstrate content knowledge on a subject-matter test.
Applicants must have a major, or have completed 75 percent of the coursework requirements for a major, for the field in which they plan to teach. In addition, candidates must complete a human relations and special education training prior to certification. There is no test-out option for coursework requirements.
Increase academic requirements for admission.
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. 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.
Require applicants to pass a subject-matter test for 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. Teachers without sufficient subject-matter knowledge place students at risk.
Offer flexibility in fulfilling coursework requirements.
Nebraska should allow candidates without a major in the subject they plan to teach to pass a rigorous test to demonstrate subject knowledge. While the state is recognized for its attempt to include pedagogical coursework that may increase effectiveness prior to entering the classroom, Nebraska should consider whether it is also appropriate to allow candidates who already have the requisite knowledge and skills to demonstrate such by passing a rigorous test.
Eliminate basic skills test requirement.
Nebraska'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. 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.
Nebraska recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.