The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal is reorganized for 2021.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Massachusetts's requirements for licensure advancement and renewal are not based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
Advancing to a Professional License: To advance from an initial to a professional license, Massachusetts requires teachers to complete a one-year induction program with a mentor, have three years' teaching experience, and fulfill 50 hours of a mentored experience beyond the induction year. They are also required to complete one of the following: an approved licensure program for the professional license; a program leading to eligibility for master teacher status, such as those sponsored by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; or, for those who have an advanced degree, 12 credits of graduate-level courses in subject-matter knowledge.
Renewing a Professional License: Massachusetts requires teachers to renew their professional licenses every five years by earning 150 professional development points through approved professional development. An educator must earn at least 15 PDPs in each of the following areas: content, pedagogy, ESL/Sheltered English Immersion, and special education/diverse learning styles.
Require evidence of effectiveness as a part of teacher licensing policy.
Massachusetts should require evidence of teacher effectiveness to be a factor in determining whether teachers may renew or advance to a higher-level license.
Discontinue license renewal requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.
Although targeted requirements may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve teacher practice, Massachusetts's 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.
Massachusetts recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.