Part-Time Teaching Licenses: Nebraska

2015 General Teacher Prep Programs 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 Nebraska's policies

Nebraska offers the Career Education Certificate and the Provisional Commitment Certificate.

The Career Education Teaching Certificate is available for individuals hired to teach a course where no teacher education program exists and where instructional content of the course exceeds teacher preparation coursework or for which the school system has not found a qualified teacher for a specific course in the career education field. Candidates must show proficiency in the subject matter through a course of study, five years of work experience or an exam. This certificate is limited to instruction of students in grades 9-12 and is valid for five years in the endorsed career area only.

The Provisional Commitment Teaching Certificate can be issued to applicants with a baccalaureate degree who have completed the required portion of an approved teacher-education program, including 50 percent of the prestudent teaching requirements, a course in teaching methods, and 75 percent of the requirements for at least one subject or field endorsement. 

Citation

Recommendations for Nebraska

Offer a license that allows content experts to serve as part-time instructors.
It is unclear whether the Career Education Certificate and the Professional Commitment Certificate serve as vehicles 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 the requirements that candidates must fulfill.

Require applicants to pass a subject-matter test.
Although these certificates may be designed to enable distinguished individuals to teach, Nebraska 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 Career Education Certificate and Professional Commitment Certificate teachers know the specific content they will need to teach.




State response to our analysis

Nebraska asserted that the Dual Credit and Career Education certificates (soon to be called permits) authorize individuals with deep content knowledge to teach on a part-time basis without meeting regular preparation requirements and are also excluded from some of the other statutory requirements.

Revisions to these certificates are awaiting formal approval, which is expected this Fall/Winter.

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.