Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy
The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.
Ohio offers two teaching permits that allow content experts to teach part time: the 12-hour permit and the 40-hour STEM permit. Nonlicensed individuals with a 12-hour permit can teach for no more than 12 hours a week. Nonlicensed individuals with a 40-hour STEM permit must not exceed 40 hours of instruction a week. Individuals must have a bachelor's, a master's or a doctoral degree or significant experience in the intended teaching field. Permit holders are not required to pass a subject-matter test.
The state does include the provision that individuals under this license volunteer their time, or that a contract with their current employer be agreed to by the school board. A school or district cannot hire an individual under either permit if it displaces an existing licensed teacher.
Ohio Administrative Code 3319.301
Require applicants to pass a subject-matter test.
Ohio 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 significant content knowledge to teach, Ohio should still require a subject-matter test. While the state does require a degree or significant experience, only a subject-matter test ensures that teachers on the 12-hour permit or 40-hour STEM permit know the specific content they will need to teach.
Ohio was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state added that the 12-hour permit is "extended to content experts in other subjects that are frequently hard to staff or may not have high enough enrollment to necessitate a fulltime position."
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.