Part Time Teaching Licenses: Washington

2011 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
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Part Time Teaching Licenses: Washington results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/WA-Part-Time-Teaching-Licenses-7

Analysis of Washington's policies

Washington offers a Conditional Certificate license with minimal requirements, although it is unclear whether the license was designed to be used for part-time teaching.

The Conditional Certificate is only issued when no person with regular teacher certification is available. 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, whether it is for part-time or full-time teaching or 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 asserted that NCTQ's analysis did not go far enough. In addition to the language quoted in the analysis, the state pointed out that the statute allows districts to hire candidates under this license as "circumstances warrant."  Districts do use this provision for part-time teachers, including local musicians or artists. Washington further noted that it was used recently for TFA corps members in Seattle.

How we graded

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 licensure requirements to those that verify subject-matter knowledge and address public safety, such as background checks.

Research rationale

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" 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 28 (1991), 465-498.

For more on math and science content knowledge, see D. Monk and J.R. King, "Subject Area Preparation of Secondary Mathematics and Science Teachers and Student Achievement," Economics of Education Review 12, no. 2 (1994), 125-145; R. Murnane, "Understanding the Sources of Teaching Competence: Choices, Skills, and the Limits of Training," Teachers College Record 84, no. 3 (1983)