The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal is reorganized for 2021.
Evidence of effectiveness: Delaware's policies for licensure advancement consider evidence of effectiveness. However, evidence of effectiveness is not required in the state's licensure renewal policy.
Advancing to a professional license: Delaware uses a three-tier licensure system: the Initial License, the Continuing License, and the Advanced License. To advance from Initial Licensure to Continuing Licensure, applicants must complete a mentoring program and demonstrate satisfactory annual summative evaluations. Teachers must not have received more than one unsatisfactory annual evaluation on the state's performance-based teacher evaluation system during the period of initial licensure. Advanced licensure is available for teachers certified by the National Board.
Renewing a professional license: Delaware requires teachers holding a continuing license to renew every five years by completing 90 hours of professional development or six semester hours of graduate school credit.
Require evidence of effectiveness for licensure decisions.
Although the standard for denying licensure—the right to practice in the state—need not be the same standard that might result in termination from a particular position, Delaware should consider whether its current policy, which allows advancement even if a teacher has a single ineffective rating, is appropriate and sufficient. Further, the state should also factor evaluation evidence into decisions about license renewal.
Discontinue license renewal requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.
Although targeted requirements may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve teacher practice, Delaware's 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.
Delaware recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.