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 New Hampshire's alternate route programs are not consistently selective nor flexible to the needs of nontraditional candidates.
New Hampshire has four alternate routes: Alternative 3A, Alternative 3B, Alternative 4 and Alternative 5. Candidates for Alternative 3A, 3B and 4 are not required to demonstrate prior academic performance, such as a minimum GPA, as an entrance standard for the alternate route program. Candidates for Alternative 5 must have a minimum 2.5 GPA; however, individuals who fail to meet this requirement may still qualify if all other requirements are met and the individual has graduated more than five years ago and has occupational experience totaling more than five years directly related to the area to be taught.
All alternative routes require applicants to pass a test of basic skills and demonstrate content knowledge on a subject-matter test. For Alternative 3A, 4 and 5, candidates with a master's degree are exempt from both tests; this exemption does not apply to applicants seeking certification in elementary or early childhood education.
Alternative 3B recognizes national licensure, namely that acquired by the American Board Certification for Teacher Excellence (ABCTE). ABCTE candidates are required to pass the ABCTE Test of Professional Knowledge and an ABCTE subject-area exam.
Neither Alternative 3A nor Alternative 3B requires coursework. Candidates in the Alternative 3A route must demonstrate teacher competencies through submission of a portfolio and interview with a board of examiners and must have at least three months of full-time continuous experience as an educator in the area of endorsement.
Alternative 4 applicants must complete minimal coursework requirements in the critical shortage area that they plan to teach. Alternative 5 applicants must have a major, or 30 credit hours, in the content area they plan to teach. The state does not offer a test-out option for either Alternative 4 or Alternative 5 coursework requirements.
Administrative Rules for Education 602 http://www.ed.state.nh.us/education/beEd.htm
Screen all candidates for academic ability.
New Hampshire should require that candidates to its alternate routes provide some evidence of good academic performance. While the state is recognized for requiring Alternative 5 candidates to have a minimum 2.5 GPA, 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.
Require all applicants to pass a subject-matter test for admission.
The state should consider requiring all candidates, including those with a master's degree in the subject, to pass a content-knowledge test. 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.
Consider flexibility in fulfilling coursework requirements.
New Hampshire should consider whether it is appropriate to allow any candidate who already has the requisite knowledge and skills to demonstrate such by passing a rigorous test. The coursework requirements for the Alternative 4 route are so minimal, in some cases as little as one course, that they are essentially ineffectual in their intent.
Eliminate basic skills test requirement.
Although New Hampshire 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. The state should eliminate the basic skills test requirement or, at a minimum, accept the equivalent in SAT, ACT or GRE scores.
New Hampshire reiterated that Alternative 5 candidates must have a content major or 30 hours in the subject area prior to being eligible for an intern license. The state added that if an Alternative 5 candidate has a master's degree, then a transcript analysis is performed "to determine if there is adequate coursework in the subject area endorsement being pursued. If the coursework is incomplete the candidate would be required to take the Praxis II."
New Hampshire also asserted that it will waive the basic skills test requirement for candidates whose SAT or ACT scores demonstrate that they are in the top half of their class.