The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Maryland's requirements for licensure advancement are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness, but requirements for licensure renewal are not.
Advancing to a Professional License: Maryland offers four types of teacher certifications. The Professional Eligibility Certificate is issued to teachers not currently employed in the state, and the Standard Professional Certificate I (SPC I) is issued to those employed by a local school system. To advance to the Standard Professional Certificate II (SPC II), teachers must complete the SPC I and have three years of "satisfactory school-related experience" and a professional development plan for the Advanced Professional Certificate (APC). To advance to the APC, teachers must have three years of "satisfactory school-related experience"; six semester hours of credit; and either a master's degree or a minimum of 36 semester hours of postbaccalaureate coursework. It appears that there are renewal restrictions on the first three types of certifications, ultimately requiring teachers to advance to the APC.
Maryland defines "satisfactory school-related experience" as "professional, full-time experience...for which the annual overall evaluation rating is satisfactory or better."
Renewing a professional license: Maryland teachers must renew their APC every five years by completing six semester hours of acceptable credit at an accredited institution of higher learning. Acceptable credit is credit earned at an accredited institution of higher learning or through state-approved Continuing Professional Development (CPD) credits.
Require evidence of effectiveness for licensure decisions.
Maryland should require evidence of teacher effectiveness to be a factor in determining whether teachers may renew their licenses.
Discontinue license requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.
Although 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 clear that master's degrees generally do not have any significant correlation with classroom performance. Rather, advancement should be based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
Update language in certification regulations. Maryland's certification regulations define "satisfactory school-related experience" as earning an overall teacher evaluation rating of satisfactory or higher. However, the state's new evaluation system requires ratings of highly effective, effective, and ineffective. Maryland should clarify that teachers must be rated at least effective to satisfy the school-related experience criterion.
Maryland was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state added that it is currently exploring the existing certificate structure to determine if its policy remains appropriate for the needs of Maryland students.
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.