Licensure Advancement: Kentucky

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


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

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Licensure Advancement: Kentucky results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Kentucky's policies

Kentucky's requirements for licensure advancement and renewal are not based on evidence of teacher effectiveness. 

To advance from the state's initial provisional teaching certificate to the professional teaching certificate, which is valid for four years, teachers must successfully complete the beginning teacher internship, a one-year program that provides new teachers with additional supervision and assistance and culminates with a Teacher Performance Assessment that measures mastery of Kentucky Teacher Standards.

To renew the professional teaching certificate, teachers must complete a fifth-year approved program of preparation consistent with the state's teacher standards. For the first renewal, teachers must complete 15 graduate hours, or half of the continuing education option (CEO) requirements. For the second five-year renewal, teachers must complete a master's degree or the CEO requirements. Each subsequent five-year renewal requires three years of classroom teaching during the previous five-year period, or an additional six hours of graduate credit.  


Recommendations for Kentucky

Require evidence of effectiveness as a part of teacher licensing policy.
Kentucky should require evidence of teacher effectiveness to be a factor in determining whether teachers can renew their licenses or advance to a higher-level license. While Kentucky's performance assessment may be a step in the right direction, there is no indication that objective evidence of student learning is considered as part of this assessment. 

Discontinue license renewal requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.
While targeted requirements may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve teacher practice, Kentucky's general, nonspecific continuing education 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.

End requirement tying teacher advancement to master's degrees.
Kentucky should remove its mandate that teachers obtain a master's degree for license advancement. Research is conclusive and emphatic that master's degrees do not have any significant correlation to classroom performance. Rather, advancement should be based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.

State response to our analysis

Kentucky asserted that both the continuing education option (CEO) program and the National Board Certification (NBC) program require evidence of classroom effectiveness. Successful completion of the CEO program can result in either a Rank II or Rank I. Successful completion of the NBC program can result in a Rank I.

The state also pointed out that as part of its first-year goals with the Network for Transforming the Education Profession (NTEP), the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) unanimously voted that by July 15, 2015, the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP) Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) will be redesigned to reflect the Teacher Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES). The data collection system and Intern Management System (IMS) are also being redesigned to allow for the PGES data collection system and KDE Continuous Improvement Instructional Technology System (CIITS) to be electronically transferred to the EPSB IMS as a part of its Strategic Plan adopted in March 2014.

The first-year pilot to test the new combined KTIP/PGES system in 22 Kentucky districts was completed in June 2015. In June 2015, the EPSB granted a waiver of language in 16 KAR 7:010 pertaining to the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP), which allowed for implementation of the pilot statewide in fall 2015. Approval of the waiver allowed districts statewide to move forward with the goals established by the EPSB in 2013. EPSB has been involved with the Teacher Professional Growth and Effectiveness System work for several years and has had two staff members on the PGES steering committee. Currently, the KTIP pilot work is included in the goals of the EPSB Strategic Plan and also is a component of the CCSSO NTEP (Network to Transform Educator Preparation) grant. The KTIP pilot work has been led by the Kentucky Advisory Council for Internship (KACI), which is comprised of stakeholders from public and nonpublic P-12 districts, higher education institutions, Kentucky Education Association (KEA), the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), and the EPSB. After feedback evaluated from the statewide pilot, it is expected that regulatory amendments to 16 KAR 7:010 will be presented to the EPSB in the early spring of 2016.

Kentucky further noted that a key foundational piece of its TPGES is the Framework for Teaching. The Kentucky Teaching Standards and the Kentucky Department of Education's Characteristics of Highly Effecting Teaching and Learning, along with research from many of the top educator appraisal specialists and researchers, are the foundation for this system. The Framework for Teaching provides structure and feedback for continuous improvement through individual goals that target student and professional growth, thus supporting overall school improvement.

Kentucky added that EPPs (preparation programs) will utilize the data collected on student growth and achievement, which will be collected on the teacher intern’s effectiveness when the KTIP/PGES are fully implemented as a part of continuous improvement, accreditation and program approval; thus, a full data collection and feedback loop regarding effectiveness will then be provided.

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