Meet Dr. Lisa Testa, Program Coordinator of Kent State University’s Alternative Licensure Professional Development Institute

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Meet Dr. Testa!

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Elizabeth “Lisa” Testa is an associate professor in the School of Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum Studies at Kent State University. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate coursework on teaching and learning, as well as English education and literacy courses. She works closely with many local K-12 partners, providing opportunities for pre-service teachers to gain clinical field experiences in secondary schools. Her research interests include studying teacher education and pre-service teachers’ conceptions of teaching writing.

Read on for a short interview with Lisa.

Tell us about your background in the field.

I am a former high school reading and English teacher. I have been a teacher educator for 13 years. I’ve taught hundreds of area teachers how to teach. It’s been my privilege. I also design field experiences for undergraduate teacher candidates to participate in during their sophomore and junior years. These experiences hinge upon partnerships with area non-profit organizations and schools. Planning, organizing, and leading these experiences allows me to stay connected to excellent teachers, leaders, and community members doing creative and life-changing work in our region.

How much real-world experience is used in your instruction/lessons?

This program is designed to include teachers’ work as part of the course content. Discussion activities and performance assessments revolve around what the teachers taking the course are doing in their classrooms. If I were to put a percentage on it, I would estimate that 95% of the course content connects directly to relevant experiences that teachers have every day in their classrooms.

What should students look for when choosing a program? What makes the online institute at Kent State University stand out?

Our program has three distinctions that are critical to consider when choosing an alternative licensure professional development institute:

  • Methods courses tailored to adolescent education by teacher researchers. Other programs are designed by sterile, impersonal educational companies. Our courses were designed by KSU professors who lead the state in teacher research in English, Mathematics, Science, and Social studies. The courses are taught by these same folks. Your tuition allows you to hob-nob with some of the finest teacher educators in the nation.
  • Graduate credit awarded: completion of each course provides 3 graduate credit hours. There are other programs in the state that will award you a certificate of completion but no graduate credit hours. Why do all this work to not get graduate credit that will allow you to increase a step in pay in your contract?
  • Apply courses to a master’s degree. You may apply 12 graduate credit hours from the ALPDI to a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Your work in this credential will allow you to have a head start toward the next!

Are there a variety of benefits to this program in terms of career placement?

Absolutely! Completion of this program will allow teachers holding an Alternative License to earn a Certificate of Completion, which they may then upload to the OH|ID portal as evidence of meeting the coursework requirements to advance to an Ohio 5-year professional teaching license.

Who is the ALDPI program designed for?

Teachers who have an Ohio Alternative Teaching License.

What can I expect to learn within this program?

Program participants will experience professional education coursework to prepare them for the principles and practices of teaching, student development and learning, assessment procedures, curriculum development, classroom management, and teaching methodology.

Are there research requirements for this program? If not, are there any research opportunities?

This certificate program does not include research. Candidates interested in research may be interested in an online master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on teacher research.

Do you have a favorite student program moment or story?

We had a student in the program in their first year of teaching. They were astounded by how pertinent every module was to their classroom practice, often expressing how they used the assignments completed in the modules right away in their teaching.

Are you currently reading any books or listening to any podcasts related to the program?

I’m re-reading Unearthing Joy by Gholdy Muhammed. It’s an important work that challenges educators to cultivate joy in their classrooms so each student can identify and claim their genius.

What is your preferred form of contact for prospective students?

Please email me at

Reach out if you have any questions! We have designed this program to be accessible and tailored to suit our perspective and current students’ needs. Let us know how we can help!

Kent State University’s Online Alternative Licensure Professional Development Institute

The Alternative Licensure Professional Development Institute (ALPDI) at Kent State serves new teachers who completed the Ohio Department of Education requirements for an Alternative Resident Educator License. These teachers have four years to complete 15-18 credit hours, depending on their area of licensure, from a state-approved professional development institute.

The Kent State ALPDI program addresses the requirements for this advancement by providing 12 semester credit hours of professional education coursework to prepare teachers in the principles and practices of teaching, student development and learning, assessment procedures, curriculum development, classroom management and teaching methodology. In addition, the Ohio Department of Education requires 3 semester credit hours for a course in the teaching of reading for teachers in licensures other than language arts; English/Language Arts licensure teachers are also required to take a 3-semester credit hour course in phonics.

For more information on Kent State’s Online Alternative Licensure Professional Development Institute, visit

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