The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.
Arkansas now offers the Provisional Professional Teaching License (PPTL) in place of the Arkansas Professional Teaching Permit. PPTL is a provisional educator license issued to experienced professionals to teach in either a part-time or full-time basis. With this license, individuals can teach math, science, language arts or social studies in middle childhood grades (4-8) or content areas in secondary grades (7-12).
Provisional Professional Teaching License candidates must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum of three years' relevant work experience. Applicants must pass basic skills assessments and content-knowledge exams in the subject area to be taught.
The state also requires that candidates complete 24 hours of training in pedagogy in the first year of teaching.
Arkansas Provisional Professional Teaching License http://www.arkansased.org/divisions/human-resources-educator-effectiveness-and-licensure/educator-licensure-unit/routes-to-educator-licensure ADE Rules Governing Non-Traditional Licensure Program 6.0 http://www.arkansased.org/public/userfiles/HR_and_Educator_Effectiveness/HR_Educator_Licensure/NON-TRADITIONAL_RULES_June_2012.pdf
Arkansas was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.
Part-time licenses can help alleviate severe shortages, especially in STEM subjects.
Some of the subject areas in which states face the greatest teacher shortages are also areas that require the deepest subject-matter expertise. Staffing shortages are further exacerbated because schools or districts may not have high enough enrollments to necessitate full-time positions. Part-time licenses can be a creative mechanism to get content experts to teach a limited number of courses. Of course, a fully licensed teacher is best, but when that isn't an option, a part-time license allows students to benefit from content experts—individuals who are not interested in a full-time teaching position and are thus unlikely to pursue traditional or alternative certification. States should limit licensure requirements to those that verify subject-matter knowledge and address public safety, such as background checks.
Part-Time Teaching Licenses: Supporting Research
The origin of this goal is the effort to find creative solutions to the STEM crisis. While teaching waivers are not typically used this way, teaching waivers could be used to allow competent professionals from outside of education to be hired as part-time instructors to teach courses such as Advanced Placement chemistry or calculus as long as the instructor demonstrates content knowledge on a rigorous test. See NCTQ, "Tackling the STEM Crisis: Five steps your state can take to improve the quality and quantity of its K-12 math and science teachers", at: http://www.nctq.org/p/docs/nctq_nmsi_stem_initiative.pdf.
For the importance of teachers' general academic ability, see R. Ferguson, "Paying for Public Education: New Evidence on How and Why Money Matters," Harvard Journal on Legislation,Volume 28, Summer 1991, pp. 465-498.
For more on math and science content knowledge, see D. Monk, "Subject Area Preparation of Secondary Mathematics and Science Teachers and Student Achievement," Economics of Education Review, Volume 13, No. 2, June 1994, pp. 125-145; R. Murnane, "Understanding the Sources of Teaching Competence: Choices, Skills, and the Limits of Training," Teachers College Record, Volume 84, No. 3, 1983, pp. 564-569.