The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.
California offers the Visiting Faculty Permit (VPF), which allows individuals who have a minimum of three years' experience teaching at the postsecondary level to teach in a departmentalized K-12 setting. Candidates cannot apply for this license; only districts with a demonstrated need in a shortage area can make a request to hire an individual under a VPF.
Candidates for a VPF must have a master's degree or higher and submit their past two performance evaluations as evidence of effective teaching. VPF applicants are not required to pass a subject-matter exam.
The VPF is issued for a one-year term and may only be reissued twice. After the first year, individuals teaching under the VPF must complete a methodology course at a California college or university. If after three years the VPF teacher has also earned an English Learner authorization, then he or she is eligible for a full teacher credential.
Statutory authorization for this license expires in 2015.
CA Visiting Faculty Permit http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/cl881.pdf
Require applicants to pass a subject-matter test.
Although the VPF is designed to enable college and university faculty to teach in K-12 classrooms, California should still require a subject-matter test. While a major—or even an advanced degree—is generally indicative of background in a particular subject area, only a subject-matter test ensures that VPF teachers know the specific content they will need to teach.
Expand the license to include content experts other than college faculty.
California should permit other individuals with deep subject-area knowledge to teach a limited number of courses without fulfilling a complete set of certification requirements.
California recognized the factual accuracy of 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.