The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal is reorganized for 2021.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Tennessee considers evidence of effective in its licensure advancement and renewal policies. However there is no guarantee that effectiveness will be included.
Advancing to a Professional License: To advance from a practitioner license to a professional license, Tennessee requires teachers to have three years of experience and either the recommendation of the director of schools or documentation of 30 professional development points (PDPs). The state allows teachers to earn PDP points by achieving overall scores of 3 to 5 on their evaluations. However, points may also be accrued through training (academy, institute, seminar, conference) and college/university coursework.
Renewing a Professional License: Tennessee requires teachers to have documentation of 60 PDPs to renew the professional license. The state allows teachers to earn PDP points by achieving overall scores of 3 to 5 on their evaluations. However, points may also be accrued through training (academy, institute, seminar, conference) and college/university coursework.
Educator Licensure Policy 5.502
Require evidence of effectiveness as a part of teacher licensing policy.
Tennessee should require evidence of teacher effectiveness to be a factor in determining whether teachers may renew or advance to a higher-level license.
Discontinue license requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.
Although targeted requirements may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve teacher practice, Tennessee's allowance of general, nonspecific 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.
Tennessee 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.