The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Arizona's requirements for licensure advancement and renewal are not based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
Advancing to a Professional License: Arizona defines two types of certifications based on grade level. To advance from a Provisional Elementary Certificate to a Standard Elementary Certificate (1-8), teachers must complete 45 hours or three semesters of instruction in research-based systematic phonics as well as Arizona and U.S. Constitution requirements. Advancement from the Provisional Secondary Certificate to a Standard Secondary Certificate (grades 6-12) requires two years of experience and completion of Arizona and U.S. Constitution requirements.
Renewing a Professional License: Arizona teachers must renew their licenses once every eight years. Requirements for renewal may not exceed 15 hours of continuing education credits each year.
Require evidence of effectiveness as a part of teacher licensing policy.
Arizona should require evidence of teacher effectiveness to be a factor in determining whether teachers may renew or advance to a higher-level license.
Discontinue licensure requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.
Although some targeted requirements—such as Arizona's requirement for study of research-based phonics instruction—may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve teacher practice, Arizona's other general, nonspecific coursework requirements for license renewal merely call for teachers to complete a certain amount of seat time. These requirements do not correlate with teacher effectiveness.
Arizona indicated that proposed amendments to the rules are currently being considered by the board.
The state also affirmed the statutory language pertaining to the current renewal requirements included in the analysis: "An individual holding a Standard teaching certificate, an administrative certificate, a Guidance Counselor certificate, or a School Psychologist certificate, may renew the certificate for eight years upon completion of fifteen hours of continuing education credits each year of the certificate term."
According to Arizona's proposed amendments, the renewal period may be changed from eight years to 12 years and therefore would not necessarily strengthen Arizona's licensure renewal policy.
9A: Licensure Advancement
The reason for probationary licensure should be to determine teacher effectiveness. Most states grant new teachers a probationary license that must later be converted to an advanced or professional license. A probationary period is sound policy as it provides an opportunity to determine whether individuals merit professional licensure. However, very few states require any determination of teacher performance or effectiveness in deciding whether a teacher will advance from the probationary license. Instead, states generally require probationary teachers to fulfill a set of requirements to receive advanced certification. Therefore, ending the probationary period is based on whether a checklist has been completed rather than on teacher performance and effectiveness.
Most state requirements for achieving professional certification have not been shown to affect teacher effectiveness. Unfortunately, not only do most states fail to connect advanced certification to actual evidence of teacher effectiveness, but also the requirements teachers must most often meet are not even related to teacher effectiveness. The most common requirement for professional licensure is completion of additional coursework, often resulting in a master's degree. Requiring teachers to obtain additional training in their teaching area would be meaningful; however, the requirements are usually vague, allowing the teacher to fulfill coursework requirements from long menus that include areas having no connection or use to the teacher in the classroom. The research evidence on requiring a master's degree is quite conclusive: with rare exceptions, these degrees have not been shown to make teachers more effective. This is likely due in no small part to the fact that teachers may not attain master's degrees in their subject areas.
In addition to their dubious value, these requirements may also serve as a disincentive to teacher retention. Talented probationary teachers may be unwilling to invest time and resources in more education coursework. Further, they may well pursue advanced degrees that facilitate leaving teaching.