Part-Time Teaching Licenses: Texas

2015 Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.

Nearly meets

Analysis of Texas's policies

Texas offers the Texas School District Teaching Permit (SDTP), which allows individuals with deep subject-area knowledge to teach a limited number of courses without fulfilling a complete set of certification requirements. School districts recently received more flexibility to hire individuals under an SDTP for noncore career and technical education assignments without approval by the commissioner of education.

Applicants for the Texas SDTP must have at least a bachelor's degree with relevant college coursework of at least 18 hours for elementary and middle school and 24 hours for high school. School districts can use any combination of work experience, training and education, or industry license, certification or registration, to use as evidence of subject-matter knowledge to qualify an individual for an SDTP. Candidates must also have five years of relevant work experience. A subject test is not required.

Citation

Recommendations for Texas

Require applicants to pass a subject-matter test.
Texas is commended for offering a license that increases districts' flexibility to staff certain subjects, including many STEM areas, that are frequently hard to staff or may not have high enough enrollment to necessitate a full-time position. Although this license is designed to enable individuals who have significant content knowledge to teach, Texas should still require a subject-matter test. While the state does require verification, only a subject-matter test ensures that teachers on the School District Teaching Permit know the specific content they will need to teach.

State response to our analysis

Texas was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

Texas added that except for Health Science Technology and Trade and Industrial Education assignments, applicants for the Texas School District Teaching Permit (SDTP) must have at least a bachelor's degree and relevant college coursework of at least 18 hours for elementary and middle school and 24 hours for high school. Health Science Technology assignments require at least an associate’s degree, active professional licensure, certification, or registration by a nationally recognized professional accrediting agency, and five years of full-time wage earning work experience requiring licensure within the past eight years. Trade and Industrial Education assignments require at least a high school diploma, active professional licensure, certification, or registration by a nationally recognized professional accrediting agency, and five years of full-time wage earning work experience requiring licensure within the past eight years. Special education and bilingual education teaching assignments are not eligible for a SDTP.

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.