Licensure Advancement : Maryland

2011 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Meets in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Licensure Advancement : Maryland results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MD-Licensure-Advancement--8

Analysis of Maryland's policies

Maryland's requirements for licensure advancement and renewal are not based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
 
Maryland offers four types of teacher certifications. The Professional Eligibility Certificate is issued to teachers not currently employed in the state. The Standard Professional Certificate I (SPC I) is issued to those already employed by a local school system. To advance to the Standard Professional Certificate II (SPC II), teachers must complete the SPC I, have three years of "satisfactory professional experience," six semester hours of credit and a professional development plan for the Advanced Professional Certificate (APC). To advance to the APC, teachers must have three years' full-time, school-related experience; six semester hours of credit; and either a master's degree or a minimum of 36 semester hours of post-baccalaureate coursework. It appears that there are renewal restrictions on the first three certifications, ultimately requiring teachers to advance to the APC.

Maryland does not include effectiveness as a factor in the renewal of a professional license. Maryland teachers must renew their professional or standard licenses every five years by completing six semester hours of acceptable credit at an accredited institution of higher learning.

Citation

Recommendations for Maryland

Require evidence of effectiveness for licensure decisions.
Maryland commendably connects its strong evaluation system (see Goal 3-B) to licensure advancement. However, states must consider carefully how to use this evidence, as the standard for denying licensure—the right to practice in the state—should not necessarily be the same standard that might result in termination from a particular position. Further, the state should also factor evaluation evidence into decisions about license renewal.     

Discontinue license requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.
While targeted requirements may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve teacher practice, Maryland's general, nonspecific coursework requirements for license advancement and 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.
Maryland should remove its mandate that teachers obtain a master's degree for any level of 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

Maryland recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that Maryland regulation delineates the requirements for advancement from one certificate level to the next. Earned credits must be related to the teacher's assignment, and to advance from the Standard Professional Certificate I to a Standard Professional Certificate II, the local school system must present verification of a minimum of three years of satisfactory school-related experience, in addition to coursework requirements. This experience requirement must also be fulfilled to progress to the Advanced Professional Certificate.

Maryland also noted that teachers are required to complete a professional development plan in agreement with the local superintendent of schools. All teachers are expected to engage in ongoing professional development through in-service, undergraduate or graduate coursework. This coursework must be tailored to the instructional needs of the teacher though school system collaboration that facilitates individualization. Thus, the requirement for continuous learning involves more than "seat time" and absolutely does not require an advanced degree.
 

Finally, if recommendations of the Certification Structure Workgroup are approved, a two-tiered licensure/certification structure would incorporate the performance of teachers into its implementation, including evidence of PK-12 student growth.

How we graded

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 seven 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.

Research rationale

For a meta-analysis of the research on the relationship between advanced degrees and teacher effectiveness, see Metin and 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. Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. L. (2006) Teacher-student matching and the assessment of teacher effectiveness. Retrieved May 20, 2009 from the National Bureau of Economic Research web site: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11936; Clotfelter, C. T. Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. L. (2007) How and why do teacher credentials matter for student achievement? Ehrenberg, R. G., & Brewer, D. J. (1994) Do school and teacher characteristics matter? Evidence from high school and beyond. Economics of Education Review, 13, 1-17; Goldhaber, D., & Anthony, E. (2007) Can teacher quality be effectively assessed? National board certification as a signal of effective teaching. Review of Economics and Statistics, 89(1), 134-150; Goldhaber, D. D., & Brewer, D. J. (1997) Why don't schools and teachers seem to matter? Assessing the impact of unobservables on educational productivity. The Journal of Human Resources, 3, 505-523; Goldhaber, D. & Brewer, D. J. (2000) Does teacher certification matter? High school teacher certification status and student achievement. Educational and Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 22(2), 129-145; Hanushek, E. A., Kain, J. F., O'Brien, D. M., & Rivkin, S. G. (2005) The market for teacher quality. Retrieved May 20, 2009 from the National Bureau of Economic Research web site: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11154.pdf; Hanushek, E. A., Kain, J. F., & Rivkin, S. G. (1998) Teachers, schools, and academic achievement. Retrieved May 20, 2009 from the National Bureau of Economic Research web site:http://www.nber.org/papers/w6691.pdf; Harris, D. N., & Sass, T. R. (2006) Value-added models and the measurement of teacher quality. Harris, D. N., & Sass, T. R. (2007a) What makes for a good teacher and who can tell? Harris, D. N., & Sass, T. R. (2007b) Teacher training, teacher quality, and student achievement. Retrieved May 20, 2009 from the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research web site: http://www.caldercenter.org/PDF/1001059_Teacher_Training.pdf; Harris, D. N., & Sass, T. R. (2008) The effects of NBPTS-certified teachers on student achievement. National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research; Jeptson, C. (2005) Teacher characteristics and student achievement: Evidence from teacher surveys. Journal of Urban Economics, 57,302-319; Monk, D. H. (1994) Subject area preparation of secondary mathematics and science teachers and student achievement. Economics of Educational Review, 13, 125-145; Riordan, J. (2006, April) Is there a relationship between No Child Left Behind indicators of teacher quality and the cognitive and social development of early elementary students? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, San Francisco, CA; Schneider, B. L. (1985) Further evidence of school effects. Journal of Educational Research, 78, 351-356.

For evidence on the lack of correlation between education coursework and teacher effectiveness, see M.B. Allen, "Eight Questions on Teacher Preparation: What Does the Research Say?" Education Commission of the States, (2003) at: http://www.ecs.org/html/educationIssues/teachingquality/tpreport/home/summary.pdf.