2017 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: Pennsylvania's requirements for licensure advancement are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness. The state's policy regarding license renewal does not address evidence of effectiveness.
Advancing to a Professional License: Pennsylvania requires teachers to complete a department-approved induction program as well as three years of teaching and 24 credit hours of collegiate study. In addition, each teacher must have three years of satisfactory ratings on evaluations.
Renewing a Professional License: Pennsylvania has no requirements for renewal once a teacher reaches Level II licensure.
Pennsylvania Code Title 22, 49.83 Level II Certification http://www.education.pa.gov/Teachers%20-%20Administrators/Certifications/Certification%20Staffind%20Policies%20CSPGs/CSPG%207.pdf
Require evidence of effectiveness as a part of teacher licensing policy.
Pennsylvania should require evidence of teacher effectiveness to be a factor in determining whether teachers may renew licenses.
Discontinue license requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.
Although targeted requirements may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve teacher practice, Pennsylvania's nonspecific coursework requirements for license advancement merely call for teachers to complete a certain amount of seat time. These requirements do not correlate with teacher effectiveness.
Pennsylvania recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it uses a period of three to six years, six satisfactory evaluations, and a minimum of 24 post-baccalaureate credits for an educator to move from a Level I to a Level II instructional certificate. Pennsylvania does not require a teacher to earn an advanced degree to obtain a Level II instructional certificate. The state establishes "acceptable credits" for converting a Level I to a Level II instructional certificate; however, language is not included that requires credits to address the needs of an individual teacher.
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.