Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy
The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.
Nebraska offers the Dual Credit Certificate, the Career Education Certificate and the Provisional Commitment Certificate.
The Dual Credit Certificate is a five year teaching certificate issued to individuals who are teaching college courses to high school students where the student earns both high school and college credit. Applicants must be employed at a state postsecondary educational entity, be approved by the local school board, hold a masters degree, complete a minimum of six graduate hours in the subject area of the dual credit class, and submit evidence of meeting the human relations training requirement.
The Career Education Teaching Certificate is available for individuals hired to teach a course where no teacher education program exist, where instructional content of the course exceeds teacher preparation coursework, or for which the school system has not found a qualified teacher for a specific course in the career education field. This certificate is limited to instruction of students in grades 9-12 and is valid for five years in the endorsed career area only.
The Provisional Commitment Teaching Certificate can be issued to applicants with a baccalaureate degree who have completed the required portion of an approved teacher education program, including 50 percent of the prestudent teaching requirements, a course in teaching methods and 75 percent of the requirements for at least one subject or field endorsement.
Dual Credit Teaching Certificate http://www.education.ne.gov/tcert/pdfs/DualCreditInst.pdf Career Education Teaching Certificate http://www.education.ne.gov/tcert/pdfs/CareerEdInst.pdf Provisional Commitment Teaching Certification http://www.education.ne.gov/tcert/pdfs/teachprovcomm.pdf
Offer a license that allows content experts to serve as part-time
It is unclear whether the Dual Credit Certificate, the Career Education Certificate and the Professional Commitment Certificate serve as vehicles for individuals with deep subject-area knowledge to teach a limited number of courses without fulfilling a complete set of certification requirements. It appears that this may be the intent of the license; however, state policy does not describe the conditions of employment, whether it is for part-time or full-time teaching or the requirements that candidates must fulfill.
Require applicants to pass a subject-matter test.
Although these certificates may be designed to enable distinguished individuals to teach, Nebraska should still require a subject-matter test. While documentation provided by the applicant may show evidence of expertise in a particular field, only a subject-matter test ensures that Dual Credit Certificate, Career Education Certificate and Professional Commitment Certificate teachers know the specific content they will need to teach.
Nebraska was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.
The state added that Rule 21 provides clarification that these certificates do require subject-area knowledge and authorize an individual to teach without having fulfilled the requirements for "regular" certification at the time that the certificate is issued.
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.