The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.
Kentucky offers the Adjunct Instructor certificate as a
Candidates in the Adjunct Instructor Certification program must have either a bachelor's or master's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5, or 3.0 in the last 60 hours of coursework. Elementary applicants must have at least a minor in child development or a related area. Secondary applicants must have a major in their intended teaching field. Candidates are not required to pass a subject-matter exam.
The employing district must provide an orientation program for the adjunct instructor that provides information about student safety, policies and procedures and pedagogical assistance.
Require applicants to pass a subject-matter test.
Kentucky should consider requiring all applicants to pass a content knowledge test. Applicants for the Adjunct Instructor certificate should be experts in the area they plan to teach and therefore should be able to demonstrate this on an exam. Even with a minimum GPA and major requirement, it is unlikely that a bachelor's degree is sufficient evidence of expertise in a field. A subject-matter exam serves as an important safeguard; teachers without sufficient content knowledge place students at risk.
Kentucky 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.