Retaining Effective Teachers Policy
The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal is reorganized for 2021.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Utah does not require evidence of teacher effectiveness in licensing and advancement policies.
Advancing to a Professional License: Utah's new licensure structure now allows all teachers to earn a professional educator license. There is no longer advancement from an initial license. As of July 1, 2020, all current licenses (levels 1, 2, 3) converted to professional educator licenses.
Renewing a Professional License: Renewal requirements for Utah's professional license include a professional learning plan that outlines professional learning activities in which the teacher will participate during the renewal cycle. Teachers earn points for earning a highly effective rating on an annual evaluation.
Utah Administrative Code R277-301, -500
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.
Utah noted that teacher effectiveness is accounted for in its licensure renewal regulations.
Although Utah's renewal regulations stipulate that "an educator may only count years of employment with satisfactory performance evaluations for license renewal points," the state confirmed upon additional outreach that only teachers deemed "ineffective" on their evaluations would not qualify as satisfactory for this purpose. Teachers rated "emerging/minimally effective" would be considered satisfactory. Utah is therefore encouraged to only count the top two evaluation ratings — "effective" and "highly effective" — as satisfactory performance evaluations, when considering renewal points.
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.