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 the admission requirements for Oklahoma's alternate routes do not exceed those for traditional preparation programs, the state does require evidence of subject-matter knowledge and allows flexibility for nontraditional candidates.
Oklahoma offers two alternate routes to certification: the state-sponsored Alternative Placement Program and the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE). The Alternative Placement Program requires applicants to have a minimum 2.5 GPA. ABCTE does not require candidates to demonstrate prior academic performance, such as a minimum GPA, as an entrance standard for the alternate route program.
Both routes require applicants to pass a basic skills and a subject-matter test prior to admission. ABCTE does not require a major or specific coursework; as a result there is no need for a test-out option.
Candidates for the Alternative Placement Program must have a major in the subject area they plan to teach. The state does allow for an exception to this eligibility criterion when an applicant is able to demonstrate competency in the subject through testing. Alternative Placement Applicants must also have relevant work experience. The work experience requirement has changed slightly since the 2009 Yearbook, from three years to two years.
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.
Eliminate basic skills test requirement.
While Oklahoma 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—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.
Consider flexibility in work-experience requirement.
Oklahoma should consider using a candidate's years of experience as a factor in the admission process rather than as a requirement. Even though the state has lowered the number of years required, any work-experience requirement may disqualify potentially talented candidates unnecessarily. Recent graduates, who may demonstrate high academic ability and strong content knowledge but lack the minimum year's experience, would be needlessly excluded from the alternate route programs under this requirement.
Oklahoma asserted that it does not have a basic skills test requirement. "The state requires the successful completion of the Oklahoma General Education Test (OGET), along with a subject area and professional teaching exam, for licensure of all teacher candidates — traditional, alternative, and out of state candidates. The OGET is explicitly designed to help identify those examinees who have demonstrated the level of general education knowledge and skills required for entry-level educators in the state of Oklahoma. Teacher candidates must be able to read with understanding, analyze and reason with respect to ideas presented in print, and evaluate written arguments. They must also have mathematical problem-solving skills, use numerical reasoning, and demonstrate facility with the use of mathematics within the context of daily life. Teacher candidates should also be able analyze the writing and reasoning of others, as well as produce reasoned writing themselves. In keeping with these desired competencies, OGET content is divided into six subareas addressing areas associated with general education and critical thinking in liberal arts and sciences."