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: Wisconsin's requirements for licensure advancement and renewal are not based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
Advancing to a professional license: Wisconsin requires teachers to complete a professional development plan (PDP) that includes: activities and objectives related to professional development and district or performance goals, a timeline for achieving the goals, evidence of peer collaboration, and an assessment plan specifying growth indicators. PDPs focus professional learning on each individual educator's needs and must document professional growth and its impact on student learning. Acceptable documentation includes evidence of student performance measured by state assessments, mentor comments, and lesson plans. Wisconsin offers an optional 10-year Master Educator License for applicants who complete certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards or the Wisconsin Master Educator Assessment Process.
Renewing a professional license: Wisconsin requires teachers to renew their licenses every five years by completing a professional development plan (PDP) that is verified by a professional development team. Professional development activities can include, but are not limited to, "evidence of whole group and individual student performance as measured by state, local, formal and informal assessments; lesson plans; [or] supervisor and mentor comments of classroom performance."
Wisconsin Administrative Code PI 34.17(4) and PI 34.18
Require evidence of effectiveness as a part of teacher licensing policy.
Wisconsin 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, Wisconsin's general, nonspecific coursework requirements for license renewal merely call for teachers to complete a certain amount of seat time. These requirements do not correlate with teacher effectiveness.
Wisconsin was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced 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.