The admission criteria for teacher education programs also can differ at institutions within a state and in some cases even exceed the state’s requirement for initial licensure. For example, Maryland does not require basic skills testing for entry to teacher education, yet some institutions in the state require students to pass Praxis I (at the state’s established passing score for licensure) to enter their programs. In Idaho and Wyoming, where there are no testing requirements, some higher-education institutions require a basic skills test for admission to their teacher education programs; different tests are used by different institutions.
A review of the case studies in Appendix D also reveals some variation in the curriculum of teacher education programs across states. Several states (Idaho, Maryland) have adopted the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification standards as the basis for the curriculum in their teacher education programs, while other states (California, Nebraska) require that the curriculum of teacher education programs be aligned to standards adopted by the state. Additionally, states vary in the amount of education required to earn an initial teaching license. For example, in California most traditional teacher education programs require completion of a baccalaureate program before admission to a one-year preparatory program. In most states a teaching license can be obtained after completion of an undergraduate program.
In most of the states reviewed by the committee, initial licensure is contingent on institutional recommendations for candidates; this is especially true in states without testing requirements. Yet in some states (California and Maryland) alternative routes to initial licensure have been established that allow individuals to begin teaching (with supervision) without having completed a teacher education program. Candidates are typically granted an emergency or intern teaching certificate for the academic year. The alternative routes can include university internship programs, district internship programs, preinternship programs, and resident teacher programs. In some programs, candidates need to meet state testing requirements before beginning the alternate program and entering the classroom, while in other programs candidates can teach while fulfilling state testing requirements for the initial license.
Passing scores on licensure tests are important because they help determine access to the profession. States set their own passing scores The passing scores currently required by different states are given in Appendix C (National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, 2000b; U.S. Department of Education, 2000a). The standard-setting models used to estimate minimally competent performance are discussed below. Information used by policy makers to set final passing scores also is described.