The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.
Evidence of Effectiveness: New Mexico's requirements for licensure advancement are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness. However, it is not clear whether the state's policy for license renewal ensures consideration of objective measures of student growth.
Advancing to a Professional License: New Mexico has a three-tiered licensure system. To advance from a Level I Teaching license to a Level II Teaching license, teachers are required to complete three years' teaching experience, fulfill the mentoring requirement, and submit either a Professional Development Dossier (PDD) or National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification. The PDD includes evidence divided into five strands, which include "evidence of teacher effectiveness" and "evidence of student learning." Specific examples of acceptable evidence are included for each strand. Advancement is possible based on NMTEACH overall scores, with teachers scoring effective overall and earning at least 50 percent of the possible points in the improved student achievement domain of their effectiveness report.
New Mexico also offers a Level III-A license, which requires an advanced degree. Teachers, however, are not required to advance past the Level II certification.
Renewing a Professional License: New Mexico requires teachers to demonstrate effectiveness as a factor in the renewal of a same-level license. Each year, all teachers must demonstrate how they meet the competencies and indicators for their licensure level through an individual Professional Development Plan and Annual Evaluation.
Require evidence of effectiveness for licensure decisions.
Although New Mexico requires some evidence of teacher effectiveness and evidence of student learning for licensure advancement and renewal, the state should ensure that this evidence is in the form of objective measures of student growth.
End requirement tying teacher advancement to master's degrees.
New Mexico should remove its mandate that teachers obtain a master's degree for optional 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.
New Mexico recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.