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 Washington'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.
Washington offers several alternate routes to certification: Routes 1, 2, 3 and 4. Only Route 3 is intended for candidates from outside the profession; the other routes are designed for those already working within school systems in various capacities.
Route 3 does not require candidates to demonstrate prior academic performance, such as a minimum GPA. Washington indicates that the GPA is a factor in admissions, but the state does not set a minimum standard. Candidates are required to pass a basic skills test and a subject-matter test. The state does not require a major, so no test-out option is necessary.
Screen candidates for academic ability.
Washington 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.
Eliminate basic skills test requirement.
While Washington 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.
Washington recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that a proposal is pending that would allow other measures, such as the ACT and SAT, to be accepted in place of the current basic skills requirement. Washington added that it "has data to indicate that the WEST-B [basic skills test] has negatively affected the recruitment practices of teacher preparation programs in that programs tend to focus on individuals who have successfully completed that metric."