Part Time Teaching Licenses: Colorado

2011 Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Part Time Teaching Licenses: Colorado results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/CO-Part-Time-Teaching-Licenses-7

Analysis of Colorado's policies

Colorado offers an Adjunct Instructor Authorization, under which individuals can teach highly specialized academic enrichment areas outside of required content areas. State policy is clear that this certification is not issued for regular academic endorsement areas.

Applicants for the Adjunct Instructor Authorization must provide evidence of five years of employment in the area of specialization or a bachelor's degree in the intended teaching field. Candidates are not required to pass a subject-matter exam.

Citation

Recommendations for Colorado

Offer a license that allows content experts to serve as part-time instructors.
Colorado should build on its Adjunct Instructor Authorization to 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

Colorado contended that there are no other licensing requirements for an Adjunct Instructors license besides a background check. The state also explained that Adjunct Instructors can be hired for three years and renewed with documented evidence of continuing need.

How we graded

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.

Research rationale

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" 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 28 (1991), 465-498.

For more on math and science content knowledge, see D. Monk and J.R. King, "Subject Area Preparation of Secondary Mathematics and Science Teachers and Student Achievement," Economics of Education Review 12, no. 2 (1994), 125-145; R. Murnane, "Understanding the Sources of Teaching Competence: Choices, Skills, and the Limits of Training," Teachers College Record 84, no. 3 (1983)