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.
New York offers three alternate certification pathways: Transitional B, Transitional C, and Transitional G certificates.
Academic Proficiency Requirements: New York requires that all graduate-level teacher preparation programs adopt admissions criteria that include, but are not limited to, a minimum score on the GRE or an equivalent admission exam and a cumulative 3.0 GPA in the candidate's undergraduate program. Programs may exempt up to 15 percent of candidates from these requirements based on candidates' "demonstration of potential to positively contribute to the teaching profession or other extenuating circumstances."
Subject-matter Testing Requirements: New York requires all of its alternate route candidates to pass a subject-matter exam as a condition of certification, but not at as a condition for admission.
Coursework Requirements: New York requires Transitional B applicants planning to teach at the secondary level to have a major, or 30 semester hours of coursework, in their intended teaching area. Elementary-level applicants must have a liberal arts degree.
Transitional C certificate applicants must have an advanced academic or professional degree.
The Transitional G certificate is limited to college professors with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). To qualify, an applicant must have a graduate degree in the specific subject to be taught and two years of teaching experience at a postsecondary institution.
There are no test-out options for any alternate route candidates.
8 CRR-NY 52.21(b)(3), (b)(3)(xvi), & (xvii); 80-5.13, -5.14, & -5.22 New York State Education Department, Alternative Teacher Preparation: http://www.highered.nysed.gov/ocue/spr/AlternativeTeacherPreparationPrograms.htm New York State Education Department, The Intensive (Transitional C) Program: http://www.highered.nysed.gov/ocue/spr/intrototransc.htm New York State Education Department, The Alternative Teacher Preparation Program Transitional B: http://www.highered.nysed.gov/ocue/spr/AlternativeTeacherCertificationProgram.htm
Require applicants to pass a subject-matter test for admission.
New York should require all alternate route candidates to pass a subject-matter test prior to admission to an alternate route program. Alternate route programs provide nontraditional candidates with an opportunity to use professional knowledge and skills, including subject-matter knowledge, in the classroom. However, because teachers without sufficient subject-matter knowledge place students at risk, the subject-matter test serves as an important guardrail for alternate route candidates.
Offer flexibility in fulfilling coursework requirements.
New York should allow any candidate who already has the requisite knowledge and skills to demonstrate such by passing a rigorous test in lieu of needing a major in a particular subject area. Because exacting coursework requirements could dissuade talented individuals who lack precisely the right courses but possess the requisite subject-matter expertise from pursuing a career in teaching, it is important that alternate route candidates have an opportunity to demonstrate subject-matter knowledge through a rigorous test.
New York recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis and was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.
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.