Part-Time Teaching Licenses: Washington

2015 Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.

Meets a small part

Analysis of Washington's policies

Washington offers a Conditional Certificate license with minimal requirements; it appears that individuals under this license can be hired by a district either part time or full time.

A candidate for a Conditional Certificate must be "highly qualified and experienced in the subject matter to be taught and has unusual distinction or exceptional talent demonstrated through public records of accomplishments and/or awards."

The state does not provide additional guidelines for obtaining a Conditional Certificate.

Citation

Recommendations for Washington

Offer a license that allows content experts to serve as part-time instructors.
It is unclear whether the Conditional Certificate serves as a vehicle for individuals with deep subject-area knowledge to teach a limited number of courses without fulfilling a complete set of certification requirements. It appears that this may be the intent of the license; however, state policy does not describe the conditions of employment, including the requirements that candidates must fulfill.

Require applicants to pass a subject-matter test.
Although this license is designed to enable distinguished individuals to teach, Washington should still require a subject-matter test. While documentation provided by the applicant may show evidence of expertise in a particular field, only a subject-matter test ensures that Conditional Certificate teachers know the specific content they will need to teach.

State response to our analysis

Washington was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

Washington commented that districts apply for a conditional certificate on behalf of the applicant they wish to hire, whether full time or part time. Districts are allowed a lot of discretion for why they are hiring the individual. In addition, the person on the conditional certificate must be provided a “plan of support” developed by the district that is appropriate to his or her assignment, and he or she must complete a specified number of credit/clock hours within a given time frame.

The state added that NCTQ is correct that passage of a content test is not required. This is mostly because of the relationship with current federal highly qualified (HQ) requirements. To be HQ, the individual either has to pass the content test or be enrolled in an alternative route program, for which admission requires successful passage of a content test.

How we graded

Research rationale

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 requirements for part-time licenses 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.