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 Oregon's alternate routes do not exceed those of traditional preparation programs, they are flexible regarding the needs of nontraditional candidates.
Oregon has two alternate routes: the Approved NCLB Alternative Route License and the Restricted Transitional Teaching License. Oregon does not require candidates to demonstrate prior academic performance, such as a minimum GPA, as an entrance standard for either alternate route.
The Approved NCLB Alternative Route License requires applicants to demonstrate subject-matter competency by passing a subject-matter exam, with a content-specific major, equivalent coursework or a graduate degree. Elementary education candidates must demonstrate content knowledge on a test.
Oregon does require Restricted Transitional Teaching License applicants to show substantial preparation in the subject, but current statute does not specify how applicants may fulfill this requirement. Candidates for this license must also pass a civil rights and professional ethics test.
Oregon Administrative Rule 584-100-0041, 584-060-0162
Screen candidates for academic ability.
Oregon should require that candidates to its alternate routes provide some evidence of good academic performance. 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.
Extend subject-matter test requirement to all applicants.
While Oregon is commended for requiring elementary candidates to demonstrate content knowledge on a subject-matter test, it is strongly recommended that the state extend this requirement to all of its candidates. 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. The state should set explicit requirements for ensuring that candidates demonstrate this content knowledge. Teachers without sufficient subject-matter knowledge place students at risk.
Oregon asserted that all alternative route candidates must eventually meet full licensure requirements, including passage of subject-matter tests. The state noted that "only 5 candidates in the past year have had subject-matter tests waived for new licensure in both elementary and secondary combined. All alternative route NCLB candidates must demonstrate subject-matter competency per federal requirements prior to issuance of the license. Out of over 61,000 licensed teachers, 198 hold these temporary licenses."
NCTQ's recommendation regarding a subject-matter test is that it should be required for admission to an alternate route program. NCTQ acknowledges that Oregon, like most states, requires subject-matter tests for licensure.