Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy
The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.
Michigan offers the Expert in Residence permit, which allows individuals to teach a specific subject area for no more than two hours a day. This permit can only be issued by the superintendent or administrator when there is no properly certified teacher available for this assignment.
Candidates must have a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited college or university and have "demonstrated unusual distinction or exceptional talent in the field of specialization that will be taught." The individual must have five years of successful work experience within the preceding seven years; however, an individual who teaches world language is exempt from the work experience requirement if he or she passes an oral language exam to demonstrate proficiency. Expert in Residence candidates are required to complete an orientation to teaching that includes classroom management, instructional strategies and working with diverse learners.
The Expert in Residence permit is valid for the school year for which it is issued and expires on August 31 of that year. Renewal may be approved by the superintendent of public instruction.
Require applicants to pass a subject-matter test.
Michigan is commended for offering a license that increases districts' flexibility to staff certain subjects, including many STEM areas, that are frequently hard to staff or may not have high enough enrollment to necessitate a full-time position. Although this license is designed to enable individuals who have demonstrated unusual distinction or exceptional talent in a specialized field to teach, Michigan should still require a subject-matter test. Only a subject-matter test ensures that teachers on the Expert in Resident permit know the specific content they will need to teach.
Ensure that teacher orientation addresses the immediate needs of an adjunct teacher.
While Michigan is commended for providing teachers on this license with an orientation to teaching before they enter the classroom, the state should ensure that this orientation is streamlined and geared toward immediate needs.
Michigan was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for 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.