Licensure Advancement: Georgia

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2013). Licensure Advancement: Georgia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Georgia's policies

While Georgia includes teacher performance information in its teacher licensing policies, license advancement does not appear to be based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.

To advance to a Clear Renewable Certificate, the state requires that teachers complete a state-approved program as well as special Georgia requirements, including passing scores on content knowledge assessments, FBI background checks, and study or experience within five years of application. Also, any teacher certified in the fields of early childhood education, middle grades, mental retardation, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, interrelated special education and interrelated special education/early childhood must also complete specified coursework in the teaching of reading and writing.

Teachers in Georgia must renew their teaching licenses every five years. In order to renew their licenses, teachers may not have any combination of two unsatisfactory, ineffective, or needs development annual summative performance evaluations, which are now required to be based primarily on evidence of student learning. Teachers who receive two unremediated, unsatisfactory performance evaluations may request a one-year nonrenewable waiver certificate. These requests are reviewed by the Professional Standards Commission. During the validity period, the individual must demonstrate that the performance deficiency has been satisfactorily addressed as verified by the employer. If the deficiency is addressed, the teacher may apply for a four-year renewable license. 

As a result of House Bill 1307, teachers with licenses expiring between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2015, will not be required to complete any professional learning units in order to apply for renewal of their certificates.  


Recommendations for Georgia

Require evidence of effectiveness as a part of teacher licensing policy. Georgia is commended for requiring evidence of teacher effectiveness from its strong teacher evaluations to be the primary factor in determining whether teachers can renew their licenses. However, the policy allowing teachers with multiple ineffective ratings to apply for a waiver undermines this policy, since the request comes from the ineffective teacher.  If a waiver policy is desired, better policy would be for this request to come from the employing district.  Make repeal of coursework requirements for licensure renewal permanent policy. While targeted requirements may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve teacher practice, 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.

State response to our analysis

Georgia was helpful in providing facts that enhanced this analysis.  In addition, Georgia noted that it is a member of a multistate network focused on reforming educator licensing and preparation, use of outcomes data for program evaluation and improvement, and data sharing practices.  
According to the state, beginning in school year 2014-2015, Georgia will phase in the following four-tiered certification structure:  
Preservice—issued upon admission to a teacher preparation program—will require a successful federal background check.  
Induction—begins upon employment and lasts three years; successful completion will require a minimum of two proficient ratings on the summative statewide evaluation system (student growth measures comprise 50 percent of the summative rating), as well as completion of job-embedded professional learning linked to performance evaluations.  
Professional certificate—teachers will be required to perform at the Proficient level on the statewide evaluation system and successfully complete job-embedded professional learning linked to performance issues; the Professional certificate will be renewable every five years.  
Advanced Professional and Lead Professional certificates—both require exemplary performance ratings and advanced degrees explicitly linked to their roles in schools.  
In addition, Georgia indicated that new professional learning requirements that will link professional learning to performance were developed in fall 2013, and rule changes are expected in spring or summer 2014.

Research rationale

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. Thus, 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: These degrees have not been shown to make teachers more effective. This is likely due in no small part to the fact that teachers generally do not attain master's degrees in their subject areas. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, less than one-fourth of secondary teachers' master's degrees are in their subject area, and only 7 percent of elementary teachers' master's degrees are in an academic subject.

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.

Licensure Advancement: Supporting Research

For a meta-analysis of the research on the relationship between advanced degrees and teacher effectiveness, see M. Ozdemir and W. Stevenson, "The Impact of Teachers' Advanced Degrees on Student Learning" which has been published as an appendix in Arizona's Race to the Top: What Will It Take to Compete? (NCTQ, 2009).

Studies in the analysis include: Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. L., 2004, Teacher sorting, teacher shopping, and the assessment of teacher effectiveness, which is the previous draft of the current paper entitled C. Clotfelter, H. Ladd, and J. Vigdor, Teacher-student matching and the assessment of teacher effectiveness, January 2006 from the National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 11936, web site:; C. Clotfelter, H. Ladd, and J. Vigdor, How and why do teacher credentials matter for student achievement?, January 2007 from the NBER, Working Paper 12828, web site: R. Ehrenberg and D. Brewer, Do school and teacher characteristics matter? Evidence from high school and beyondEconomics of Education Review, Volume 13, No. 1, March 1994, pp. 1-17; D. Goldhaber and E. Anthony, Can teacher quality be effectively assessed? National board certification as a signal of effective teachingReview of Economics and Statistics, Volume 89, No, 1, February 2007, pp. 134-150; D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, Why don't schools and teachers seem to matter? Assessing the impact of unobservables on educational productivityThe Journal of Human Resources, Volume 32, No. 3, Summer 1997, pp. 505-523; D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, Does teacher certification matter? High school teacher certification status and student achievementEducational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Volume 22, No. 2, June 20, 2000, pp. 129-145; E. Hanushek, J. Kain, D. O'Brien, and S. Rivkin, (2005) The market for teacher quality. Retrieved February 2005 from the National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 11154 from web site:; E. Hanushek, J. Kain, and S. Rivkin, Teachers, schools, and academic achievement. Retrieved August 1998 from the National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 6691 from web site:; D. Harris and T. Sass, Value-added models and the measurement of teacher quality. Unpublished paper, Florida State University; D. Harris and T. Sass, What makes for a good teacher and who can tell?, Calder Institute, September 2009, Working Paper 30; Harris, D. and T. Sass, Teacher training, teacher quality, and student achievement; Calder Institute, March 2007, Working Paper 3; D. Harris and T. Sass, The effects of NBPTS-certified teachers on student achievement, Calder Institute, March 2007, Working Paper No. 4; C. Jepsen, Teacher characteristics and student achievement: Evidence from teacher surveys. Journal of Urban Economics, Volume 57, No. 2, March 2005,  pp. 302-319; D. Monk, Subject area preparation of secondary mathematics and science teachers and student achievementEconomics of Education Review, Volume 13, No. 2, June 1994, pp. 125-145; J. Riordan, Is There a Relationship Between No Child Left Behind Indicators of Teacher Quality and The Cognitive and Social Development of Early Elementary Students? April 8, 2006, Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, San Francisco, CA; B. Schneider, Further evidence of school effects, Journal of Educational Research, Volume 78, No. 6, Jul.-Aug., 1985, pp. 351-356.

For evidence on the lack of correlation between education coursework and teacher effectiveness, see M. Allen, "Eight Questions on Teacher Preparation: What Does the Research Say?" Education Commission of the States, 2003 at: