Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy
The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.
Pennsylvania offers a Resource Specialist Permit issued at the request of a public school entity for a competent, but noncertified, individual to provide supplemental instruction in his or her profession or area of expertise. Individuals must provide supplemental instruction under the direct supervision of a certified teachers as a part-time service not to exceed 400 clock hours during a school year. This temporary permit is valid for three calendar years and is not transferable to another public school entity.
Certification and Staffing Policy Guideline (CSPG) 100 http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/certification_staffing_policies_%28cspgs%29/8626/ancillary_staffing_information
Offer a license that allows content experts to serve as part-time instructors.
Pennsylvania's Resource Specialist Permit Class only allows individuals to provide supplemental instruction in their profession or expertise under direct supervision of a certified teacher. The state should expand on this idea and offer a license that permits all individuals with deep subject-area knowledge to teach a limited number of courses without fulfilling a complete set of certification requirements. The state should verify content knowledge through a rigorous test and conduct background checks as appropriate, while waiving all other licensure requirements. Such a license would increase 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.
Pennsylvania 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.