The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.
Kansas offers a Visiting Scholar teaching license to
individuals who demonstrate "exceptional talent or outstanding distinction
in one or more subjects or fields." The state does not provide additional
guidelines for obtaining a Visiting Scholar license or about the intent of the
Applicants must have written verification of employment upon licensure from a school district administrator. The state board of education reviews documentation and approves applicants on a case-by-case basis.
KSBE Regulations Chapter 91-1-201; 203 Kansas Visiting Scholar Application
Offer a license that allows content experts to serve as part-time
It is unclear whether the Visiting Scholar license serves as a vehicle for individuals with deep subject-area knowledge to teach a limited number of courses without fulfilling a complete set of certification requirements. It appears that may be the intent of the license; however, state policy does not describe the conditions of employment, whether it is for part-time or full-time teaching or requirements that candidates must fulfill.
Require applicants to pass a subject-matter test.
Although this license is designed to enable distinguished individuals to teach, Kansas should still require a subject-matter test. While documentation provided by the applicant may show evidence of expertise in a particular field, only a subject-matter test ensures that Visiting Scholar teachers know the specific content they will need to teach.
Kansas was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.
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.
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.