Part-Time Teaching Licenses: California

2015 Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.

Does not meet

Analysis of California's policies

California no longer offers a license that can be used to teach part time.

Citation

Recommendations for California

Offer a license that allows content experts to serve as part-time instructors.
California should permit individuals with deep subject-area knowledge to teach a limited number of courses without fulfilling a complete set of certification requirements. The state should verify content knowledge through a rigorous test and conduct background checks as appropriate, while waiving all other licensure requirements. Such a license would increase districts' flexibility to staff certain subjects, including many STEM areas, that are frequently hard to staff or may not have high enough enrollment to necessitate a full-time position.

State response to our analysis

California's Commission on Teaching Credentials (CTC) stated that California used to offer a Visiting Faculty Permit for content experts, but this option has been used fewer than 10 times in the entire history of the option. The CTC noted that the state believes that since its PreK-12 students are not part time, all students deserve teachers who are well prepared and well qualified with the full range of knowledge, skills and abilities required by California’s credentialing standards to help them achieve the state’s academic content standards. California does not intend to lower its standards to allow for part-time teachers who are less than fully prepared, and the state is surprised that NCTQ would recommend such a practice as an acceptable means of providing a quality education to all students in California.

Last word

As should be clear from the numerous other goals included in the Yearbook, NCTQ advocates strongly for state practices that help to ensure that all students have well-prepared and effective teachers. However, the reality is that districts face real issues in getting qualified teachers for certain subject areas, and a license such as this can help provide students with a subject-matter expert operating in a limited capacity with state and district support. This is surely a better option than a long-term substitute or a teacher teaching out of field.

How we graded

Research rationale

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 requirements for part-time licenses 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.