The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.
Evidence of effectiveness: Georgia requirements for licensure advancement and renewal are not based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
Advancing to a professional license: Georgia requires teachers to receive either proficient or exemplary annual performance ratings on the Teacher Assessment on Performance Standards (TAPS) component of Georgia's statewide evaluation system, Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES), for at least two of the three most recent years of experience to advance from an induction certificate to a performance-based professional certificate. Teachers with only two years of qualifying experience must have received ratings of proficient or exemplary for both years. A standard professional certificate is available for teachers not evaluated by the statewide evaluation system.
Renewing a professional license: Georgia requires teachers to renew their licenses every five years. To renew the performance-based professional teaching certificate, teachers must earn a minimum of two proficient or exemplary ratings on the Teacher Assessment on Performance Standards (TAPS) component of TKES within five years of the renewal date. Teachers who receive a combination of two ineffective or needs development ratings during a five-year validity cycle must not be entitled to any certificate, although waiver certification may be requested and issued at the discretion of the state.
Require evidence of effectiveness as a part of teacher licensing policy.
Georgia should require evidence of teacher effectiveness to be a factor in determining whether teachers may renew or advance to a higher-level license. Although the state links evaluation ratings to advancement to and renewal of the professional certificate, teachers must only demonstrate strong ratings on the Teacher Assessment on Performance Standards (TAPS) component of the evaluation tool. This does not take into consideration student growth, which must be considered when determining effectiveness in the classroom.
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.