Part-Time Teaching Licenses: New York

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 New York's policies

New York offers a Visiting Lecturer license with minimal requirements, although it is unclear whether the license was designed to be used part time.

According to state requirements, "at the request of a superintendent of schools, a license may be issued to an individual who has unusual qualifications in a specific subject." The Visiting Lecturer license is designed to supplement the regular program of instruction.

The state does not provide additional guidelines for obtaining a Visiting Lecturer license.

Citation

Recommendations for New York

Offer a license that allows content experts to serve as part-time instructors.
It is unclear whether the Visiting Lecturer License 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, New York 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 Visiting Lecturer teachers know the specific content they will need to teach.

State response to our analysis

New York asserted that the Visiting Lecture certificate does license individuals with content expertise as part-time instructors. The STEM Pathway leading to a Transitional G certificate provides a license for individuals with content expertise in science or mathematics. Both licenses are designed for individuals with strong content backgrounds and require minimal additional coursework. The Transitional G provides an expedited pathway for college professors with advanced degrees in science and mathematics to become certified as secondary classroom teachers in New York. The state requires the same licensure whether a teacher teaches part time or full time. The rationale behind this requirement is based on the premise that a teacher must have the same amount of subject knowledge and pedagogical skill to teach one class in a specific subject as they would if they were teaching five classes in the same specific subject. A reduction in teaching load does not correlate with a reduction in content knowledge or pedagogical skill.

Last word

It does appear that the state offers both the Visiting Lecturer license to provide a part-time option for content experts to teach, as well as the Transitional G license, which offers content experts a path to certification. NCTQ suggests that the state consider the recommendations offered here to clarify the intent and usage of the Visiting Lecturer license.  

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.