The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
Alabama's requirements for licensure advancement and renewal are not based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
The state provides three levels of licenses: Bachelor's Professional Educator Certificate (Class B), Master's Professional Teacher license (Class A), and Sixth Year Professional Teacher license (Class AA). While it is not required that a teacher advance beyond the Class B license, to advance to a Class A license a teacher must earn a master's degree. To advance to a Class AA license, a teacher must meet the requirements of the Class A license as well as complete an additional approved sixth-year teacher education program with 30 semester hours of graduate credit.
Alabama also does not require that teachers demonstrate effectiveness in order to renew a professional license. All three levels of teaching licenses in Alabama are valid for five years and can be renewed based on the following requirements: three years of "satisfactory" educational experience and either five continuing education units or three semester hours of credit, or six semester hours of credit.
Require evidence of effectiveness as a part of teacher licensing policy.
Alabama should require evidence of teacher effectiveness to be a factor in determining whether teachers can renew their licenses or advance to a higher-level license. Alabama's requirement of satisfactory educational experience does not accomplish this purpose, since the state's requirements do not ensure that classroom effectiveness is considered in teachers' evaluations (see Goal 3-B).
Discontinue licensure requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.
While some targeted requirements may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve teacher practice, Alabama's general, nonspecific coursework requirements for license advancement and renewal merely call for teachers to complete a certain amount of seat time. These requirements do not correlate with teacher effectiveness.
End requirement tying teacher advancement to master's degrees.
Alabama should remove its mandate that teachers obtain a master's degree for license advancement. Research is conclusive and emphatic that master's degrees do not have any significant correlation to classroom performance. Rather, advancement should be based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
Alabama recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that in 1996, its legislature decided to pay teachers with valid certificates for the highest degree earned from a regionally accredited college or university, regardless of whether the higher degree leads to an advanced certificate. Thus, the pay increase that used to be based on advanced degrees in the area of assignment is no longer a factor. Further, the legislature mandated that no link to improved student performance would be a criterion for advancement. A Teacher Quality Commission appointed by the former governor recommended alternative pathways for teacher advancement. Those recommendations have yet to be implemented.
Alabama also noted that by September 2011, the state will report impact on student achievement in reading and mathematics. The measure will be students' scores for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years. However, that information will only be available to an individual teacher and the teacher's principal. With legal counsel, the state plans to consider ways to utilize that information as a basis for licensure advancement.