2011 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 admissions requirements for Pennsylvania's alternate routes exceed those of traditional programs but lack flexibility for nontraditional candidates.
Pennsylvania classifies Pennsylvania Teacher Intern Certification and the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) as its alternate routes to certification.
Candidates for Pennsylvania Teacher Intern Certification must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. The state allows those who have passed the required content test to be accepted with a 2.8 GPA. Since the test is required for admission, it appears that 2.8 is in fact the program standard.
Candidates must have a bachelor's degree in the subject area they plan to teach, as well as six credits of college level mathematics and six credits of college-level English literature and Composition.
Teacher Intern Certification candidates must also pass a subject-matter test. This test cannot be used to test out of the coursework requirements.
Consider accommodations for meeting minimum GPA requirements.
While the state is commended for requiring applicants to provide evidence of past academic performance, Pennsylvania should consider whether some accommodation in this standard might be appropriate for career changers with relevant work experience. 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.
Offer flexibility in fulfilling coursework requirements.
Pennsylvania should allow any candidate who already has the requisite knowledge and skills to demonstrate such by passing a rigorous test. Rigid coursework requirements could dissuade talented individuals who lack precisely the right courses from pursuing a career in teaching.
Pennsylvania contended that it has a GPA policy that aligns the GPA with test scores so that those who do exceptionally well on the test may be accepted with a lower GPA and, conversely, the candidate with a high GPA can receive accommodation on the required test score. Further, the state allows those who do not meet the required GPA in their undergraduate program to demonstrate a 3.0 in 12 credits at the graduate level for admittance into a program. The six credits of English and Mathematics are not required for post-baccalaureate candidates.
The state also asserted that under new legislation it mandates the programs offered by IHEs and non-IHEs to be flexible and include accelerated programs. The law creates residency certificates for shortage areas either statewide or in geographic areas. Candidates for both the residency and intern certificates must pass their content test and then are able to teach while completing a program that focuses on pedagogy and child development. New guidelines are being developed to stress that candidates are to be given credit for previous experience and education and opening all postbacc programs to non-IHE providers.
A sliding scale that allows candidates flexibility in meeting the GPA requirements for admission based on other measures of academic standing is sound policy. Unfortunately, it does not appear that Pennsylvania offers such flexibility in its admissions criteria. According to an FAQ on the state's website: "The Praxis Qualifying Score policy does not impact program admission GPA...and is applied only for purposes of recommendation for certification."