The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal is reorganized for 2021.
Evidence of Effectiveness: South Carolina's requirements for licensure advancement and renewal are not based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
Advancing to a Professional License: South Carolina allows teachers to advance to the bachelor's degree level, the first of five successive levels within its Professional Certificate, if they successfully complete the induction program, any ancillary requirements, and the formal evaluation. The remaining successive levels include a bachelor's degree plus 18 hours, a master's degree, a master's degree plus 30 hours, and a doctorate degree.
Each level within the Professional Certificate is renewable, so teachers are not necessarily required to advance past the bachelor's degree level; however, those who do not earn a master's degree must earn a minimum of 60 renewal credits during each five-year validity period.
Renewing a Professional License: South Carolina teachers must renew their licenses every five years by completing 120 renewal credits made up mostly of professional development requirements.
Require evidence of effectiveness as a part of teacher licensing policy.
South Carolina should require evidence of teacher effectiveness to be a factor in determining whether teachers may renew or advance to a higher-level license. The state's advancement requirement that teachers must successfully complete their teacher evaluations does not ensure that objective measures of student growth will be adequately considered.
Discontinue license requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.
Although targeted requirements may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve teacher practice, South Carolina's general, nonspecific credit hour coursework requirements for license advancement and renewal merely call for teachers to complete a certain amount of seat time. These requirements do not correlate with teacher effectiveness.
End requirement tying teacher advancement to master's degrees.
South Carolina 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.
South Carolina did not respond to NCTQ's request to review this analysis for accuracy.
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.