Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy
The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.
Wyoming offers a Professional, Industry, and Careers (PIC) Permit. This permit is valid for five years and may be renewed by meeting standard renewal requirements. To qualify for this permit, candidates must have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent, at least two years' recent work experience and a valid Wyoming license for the trade or occupation if required to practice. Permits in some areas, specifically Agriculture, Business, Family and Consumer Science, Technology or Industrial Arts, require candidates to have at least a bachelor's degree in the specific discipline for which they seek a permit.
Offer a license that allows content experts to serve as part-time instructors.
It is unclear whether the PIC Permit 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 that may be the intent of these licenses; 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.
Wyoming should consider requiring all applicants to pass a content knowledge test. Applicants for the PIC Permit should be experts in the area they plan to teach and therefore should be able to demonstrate this on an exam. A subject-matter exam serves as an important safeguard; teachers without sufficient content knowledge place students at risk.
Wyoming was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.
The state added that any Wyoming license holder may teach part time.
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.