Part Time Teaching Licenses: Oklahoma

2011 Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.

Meets in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Part Time Teaching Licenses: Oklahoma results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/OK-Part-Time-Teaching-Licenses-7

Analysis of Oklahoma's policies

Oklahoma authorizes an adjunct license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.

Candidates for an adjunct license must be "persons with distinguished qualifications in their field." Oklahoma does not provide any additional guidelines for adjunct requirements; however, adjunct teachers are not required to meet standard certification requirements.

The state limits an adjunct teacher to 90 clock hours of classroom teaching per semester.

Citation

Recommendations for Oklahoma

Require applicants to pass a subject-matter test.
Oklahoma 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 distinguished individuals to teach, Oklahoma 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 individuals granted this license know the specific content they will need to teach.

State response to our analysis

Oklahoma explained that each local board of education has the responsibility for determining the highly qualified status of the adjunct teacher and recommending such to the state.

Last word

Licensure is a matter of state oversight, and the state should therefore ensure that individuals are not licensed to teach in Oklahoma who do not meet minimum expectations. While the intent of this adjunct license is on track, the state should require applicants to pass a subject matter test to demonstrate their content expertise. Even for those with advanced degrees, only a rigorous subject-matter test ensures that these individuals know the specific content they will teach. 

How we graded

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.

Research rationale

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" 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 28 (1991), 465-498.

For more on math and science content knowledge, see D. Monk and J.R. King, "Subject Area Preparation of Secondary Mathematics and Science Teachers and Student Achievement," Economics of Education Review 12, no. 2 (1994), 125-145; R. Murnane, "Understanding the Sources of Teaching Competence: Choices, Skills, and the Limits of Training," Teachers College Record 84, no. 3 (1983)