2017 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy
The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Utah requires some evidence of teacher effectiveness in licensing and advancement policies.
Advancing to a Professional License: Utah requires teachers to complete the Entry Years Enhancement (EYE) program, which requires collaborating with a trained mentor, passing a pedagogical exam, completing three years of employment and evaluation, and compiling a working portfolio. Under the EYE program, evaluations must occur twice during the first three years of teaching with a satisfactory final evaluation. This evaluation, however, does not require objective measures of student growth. To move from a Level 2 to a Level 3 license, teachers must acquire a doctorate in an education-related field or have National Board Certification.
Renewing a Professional License: Utah requires Level 2 teachers to renew their licenses every five years and Level 3 teachers every seven years. Level 2 and 3 teachers develop and maintain a professional learning plan, which takes into account "feedback from the educator's yearly evaluation." This professional learning plan must also document that teachers have acquired at least 200 license renewal points during each period. Teachers may earn points for years with satisfactory performance evaluations, as well as for college coursework, professional learning activities, educational research and workshops.
Utah Administrative Code R277-502-4; 522-7; 500-3, -5
Require evidence of effectiveness as a part of teacher licensing policy.
Utah 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 renewal requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.
Although targeted requirements may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve teacher practice, Utah's general, nonspecific professional development point requirements for license 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 doctoral degrees.
Utah should remove its mandate that teachers obtain a doctorate degree for any level of license advancement. Research is clear that advanced degrees generally do not have any significant correlation with classroom performance. Rather, advancement should be based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
Utah 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.