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