Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
Alaska's requirements for licensure advancement and renewal are not based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
Teacher certification in Alaska is a three-tiered system consisting of Initial, Professional and Master certification. To advance from the Initial Teacher Certificate (valid for three years and nonrenewable) to the Professional Teacher Certificate (valid for five years and renewable), the state requires that teachers pass a competency examination if they have not yet met this requirement as of the date of the Initial Teacher Certificate as well as a Praxis II content area examination. They must also complete three semester hours in Alaska studies and three semester hours in multicultural education or cross-cultural communications. During the period of the Initial Certificate, teachers must complete an accepted teacher education program. Finally, as determined by each department, teachers must complete any additional academic training deemed "necessary for personal development." To earn the state's optional Master Certificate, teachers must receive National Board certification.
All teachers initially certified September 1, 2006 and beyond must also complete the Alaska Teacher Performance Review in order to attain Professional certification. The Alaska Teacher Performance Review consists of a 45-minute videotaped lesson along with supporting documentation. The performance reviews are scored by the state office based on set performance standards.
Alaska does not require that teachers demonstrate effectiveness in order to renew a professional license. The state requires that teachers earn 6 credits from a regionally accredited university for renewal or reinstatement of a regular five-year certificate.
Require evidence of effectiveness as a part of teacher licensing policy.
Alaska should require evidence of effectiveness to be a factor in determining whether teachers can renew their licenses or advance to a higher-level license. While the requirement to present evidence of classroom performance may be a step in the right direction, the state should consider additional requirements that base professional licensure on evidence of teacher effectiveness as measured by objective evidence of student achievement.
Discontinue licensure requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.
Alaska's stipulation regarding academic training deemed necessary for personal development is vague and leaves the door open for requiring unwarranted coursework. While some targeted requirements may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve teacher practice, Alaska's coursework requirements do not correlate with teacher effectiveness.
Require teachers to pass content knowledge assessments as a condition of initial licensing, not advanced licensing.
Alaska places students at risk by requiring passage of both basic and subject-area licensure tests to attain professional licensure rather than for an initial license. The state's policy allows teachers who may not be able to pass basic skills or content knowledge tests to teach for three years on an initial license.
Alaska recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.