Defining the Problem: Across the United States licensure
requirements vary. The fear of pending teacher and administrator
shortages has led states and localities to become creative
in order to fill vacancies in the classrooms. Meeting these
demands, then retaining educators, and providing ongoing training,
only just begin to ensure an educator in every classroom
without sacrificing quality of teaching.
Key Definitions: It is important in the discussion to consider
the distinction among the terms teacher quality, teaching
quality, and teaching qualifications. As noted by the US Department
of Education (Fabiano, 1999), the first two of these in particular
are highly complex issues and difficulty to define, much less
assess. Teaching qualifications generally include general
ability, content knowledge, pedagogic (teaching methods) knowledge,
and credentials. Even these components are difficult to assess.
Other important terms include licensure and certification.
Licensure is the process by which an agency of the state government
grants permission to persons meeting determined state qualifications
to practice the educational profession. Certification is the
process by which a non-governmental agency or association
grants professional recognition to an individual who has certain
predetermined qualifications specified by that agency or association.
(Virginia Department of Educations Report on Teacher
Education and Licensure, 2000)
Routes to Licensure: Two primary routes to licensure exist,
and are detailed here.
State-Approved University Programs: Typically colleges and
universities offer an on-campus curriculum followed by a semester
of student teaching. However, some programs provide a wide
variety of field experiences in various settings, prior to
the culmination of the student teaching experience. The state-approved
programs offered at local universities permit recommendations
for licensure based on a students completion of the
program. Non-traditional students who return to college also
may participate in approved, yet different, programs based
on prior degrees and experience.
According to the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher
Education (NCATE) 2000 standards, accredited universities
in the 21st century will be expected to focus on candidate
performance. Not only will teacher candidates be expected
to show mastery of content knowledge, but also must demonstrate
they can teach effectively. Second, colleges of education
will be responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of their
programs and using the information to improve the current
program. Both internal (GPA, portfolios, lessons, video, written
reflections) and external (licensing exam, employer evaluations,
placement rates) methods will be used to show levels of acceptable
performance have been attained. The identified institutional
benchmarks will be reflective of national benchmarks.
Amidst the frenzy of teacher shortages, the university level
offers the positive news that 10% of college freshmen say
they have plans to teach in schools. This percentage is the
highest since the 1970s. However, approximately one
half of students preparing to enter the teaching profession
fail to do so within four years of graduation. In addition,
of those who do enter, one in five leave the educational arena
within three years of beginning their careers.
Tests are designed to identify the competence of those seeking
to go into education. The Professional Teachers Assessment
includes Praxis I (academic skill assessment); and Praxis
II (specialty area tests). The tests require prospective teachers
to pass according to standards predetermined.
Three traditional routes exist for individuals to become
licensed to teach in Virginia. The first begins with enrollment
in a state-approved college or university program. Second,
teachers relocating to Virginia and holding a license from
a state-approved program in another state and national certification
are offered reciprocity. Third, through the recommendation
of a Virginia school division or non-public school a teacher
can be offered a three-year provisional license. The provisional
license is given to an individual who holds a bachelors
degree and satisfies requirements in one or more specified
Alternative Programs: Alternative programs seek to fill key
shortage areas around the country. One report indicates that
41 states offer alternative certification or licensure programs
(Feistritzer & Chester; 1996). Alternative licensure programs
provide a quicker route to the classroom through emergency
certification or significantly condensed teacher preparation
programs. Some of these avenues include:
College graduates. National programs such as Teach for America
offer intensive, five-week study programs designed to place
individuals holding a bachelors degree in the classroom
after specialized training. The program focuses output into
under-funded, remote rural, and inner city schools, all of
which have critical shortages of teachers. Another route in
Virginia includes licensure based on coursework. The candidate
must have earned a bachelors degree and have met criteria
for teaching endorsement requirements. In addition, the candidate
must complete the Professional Teachers Assessment and
meet Praxis I (academic skill assessment) & II requirements
(specialty area tests) and have completed specified course
hour requirements (15 hoursgrades 6-12; 18 hoursPre/K-3,
Pre/K-6 and special education).
Military. Troops to Teachers, designed specifically to assist
with military reductions, offers the opportunity for positive
role models and a relief to the impending teacher shortage
problem. Building on the premise that many military personnel
have experience in teaching and discipline and hold a bachelors
degree, they seem to be prime candidates for recruitment by
the education field.
Paraprofessionals. Para-educator to educator teacher programs
exist in thirty states. Concentrated in California, Texas
and New York, the focus is to expand the number of minority
teachers. More recently, agreements have developed between
some four-year institutions and community colleges to provide
more direct, intensive support for paraprofessionals who are
interested in teaching (Fideler, 2000).
Special Education. In Virginia, special education teachers
who do not hold appropriate special education criteria may
be issued a three-year, nonrenewable teaching license. The
conditional license is issued to an individual with a baccalaureate
degree, an assigned mentor, a planned program of study, and
who has completed a minimum of six (6) semester hours in the
core area of special education.
Technical Professional. Technical professional, five-year
renewable licenses are also issued in Virginia. Those graduating
from high school and exhibiting academic proficiency, technical
competency and hold 4000 hours or two years of experience
qualify. This license if acceptable in teaching health occupations,
business education, vocational education, work and family
studies, trade and industrial education and marketing education.
Local Eligibility License. The Virginia General Assembly
(2000) amended the Code of Virginia to establish a mechanism
for local school boards to issue a valid three-year, nonrenewable
license to teachers according to specified criteria. Candidates
must hold a baccalaureate degree and have experience or training
in the content area intended for teaching. During the three
years, the candidate must complete training prescribed by
the state Board of Education. The license is only valid in
the issuing division. Local school boards provide information
to Virginias Board of Education about teachers receiving
local licenses. The Board of Education may revoke and reinstate
a local school boards authority.
On-the-Job Training: Improving teacher retention rates through
better pre-service education and early-career support may
help reduce the current teacher shortage fear.
Induction: The themes of fostering improvement through new
teacher induction programs are now common. Programs designed
to support, assist, train and assess teachers within their
first three years of employment in public schools are booming.
Because no national program exists, each state determines
how involved it will be in helping school districts induct
teachers; funding levels allocated to such programs vary.
Mentoring: The leading emphasis in most new-teacher training
initiatives is the support designated through the use of a
coach or mentor. At least one-half of all states have a training
program, regardless of the licensure route a new teacher has
taken. Other key emphases include orientation to school processes
and policies. Virginia implemented a requirement that school
divisions establish mentoring programs in 2000. The process
for instituting this requirement, however, is still under
development; training for mentors has not necessarily been
Professional Development School Certification: On the cutting
edge of teacher training and licensure is the idea of Professional
Development School Certification. Through the National Board
for Professional Teaching Standards, a proposal, presented
by Secretary of Education Riley, has been introduced for teachers
beginning with an initial license, followed by a professional
license and, finally, the teacher could seek a voluntary advanced
license. The initial license is granted upon successful completion
of a written exam of content and teacher knowledge and performance.
Assessment of performance could be completed through traditional
teacher program or during the first year of mentored teaching.
The initial license represents the minimum level of knowledge
and skills and indicates a trial period. The professional
license would be based on clear standards developed by participating
states, identifying what teachers should know and be able
to do. Teachers would be assessed on their performance through
classroom observation by a group of peers and a supervisor.
Teachers are expected to keep knowledge of skills up to date
and renew license periodically.
Accountability: The Virginia Education Accountability Act
(EAA, 1998) holds local schools responsible for provisional
license holders in various ways. Local school requirements
- (22.1-303 and 22.1-305, lines 264-270 & 297-298)
- Probationary teachers must be evaluated annually during
the probationary period
- Use evaluation procedures developed by school board for
- Superintendent must consider evaluation when making non-renewal
recommendations to school board
- Provide mentor teacher for 1st-year probationary teachers
The five year-renewable license is awarded after three conditions
have been met:
- Professional Teachers Assessment (Praxis I &
- Professional Studies Requirement (four-year institute
or alternative route)
- One year successful teaching in public or non-public school
with the support of a mentor.
Licensure is currently being transformed in at least thirty
states in attempts to truly measure a teachers knowledge
and skills as a prerequisite for licensure. In addition, colleges
across the nation should be planning for a performance-based
system. Teacher candidates will be expected to show mastery
of the content knowledge in their fields and demonstrate that
they can teach it effectively. (Wise & Gollnick, N.D.).
Loopholes: Emergency licensure, incidental teaching and misassignments
are quite common. Many teachers are hired who are either not
yet certified as teachers, or who are unendorsed in the area
of specialization which they will be expected to teach. According
to the National Commission on Teaching and Americas
- More than 1/4 of teachers enter the profession without
having fully met state standards
- 12% are hired with no license at all
- 15% hold temporary, provisional, or emergency licenses
- Further, the US Department of Education (2000) indicates
30% of new teachers enter the profession without full certification.
Nearly every state provides loopholes in the licensing and
certification process, allowing teachers in the classroom
that have not met the criteria. For example, 36 of 39 states
requiring teachers to pass a test of basic skills (e.g., Praxis)
allow people to begin teaching without having passed the exam.
Of the 36, only 20 set a time limit on the exception, while
the remaining 16 allow for unqualified educators in the classroom
until a qualified applicant has been hired.
Teaching without an appropriate license seems most evident
at the middle school level, and also in high-poverty localities,
small schools, among beginning teachers, and in lower track
academic classes. Only 17 states require middle school teachers
to obtain secondary level licenses in academic subjects they
expect to teach. In addition, only nine states require all
prospective middle school teachers to pass tests in their
academic disciplines. Eleven states permit teachers to instruct
out of their content area for part of the day and only the
state of Florida requires parents be notified if children
are taught by an out-of-field teacher.
In Virginia, teachers who have successfully taught for at
least two years in an accredited public or nonpublic school
outside of Virginia are exempt from the assessment requirement.
Other loopholes exist as well. For example, individuals failing
the Praxis test are granted a three-year provisional nonrenewable
license. Upon successful completion of the test, licensure
will be granted.
Ensuring teachers know their subjects and how to teach just
begins to skim the surface of successful teaching. In addition
teachers are expected to understand students, know what to
do if a child is having difficulty and challenge those with
advanced abilities in the classroom. The means for accomplishing
this complex task receive significant debate in the field.
Differing views are discussed here.
Licensure and Training
Admissions: Differing opinions prevail regarding raising
or lowering the bar for acceptance requirements into preparation
programs and licensure. Some argue that in order to increase
the number of teachers entering the pipeline, standards for
admission to preparation programs should be lowered. Others
argue that standards should be raised to attract the best
and brightest to the field. Most proponents of the latter
view explain, however, that raising the bar without improvements
to the field of teaching will not address the problem. A more
comprehensive approach to the problem is suggested.
Minimize licensing and certification requirements: One view
of the licensing-requirements debate suggests keeping these
to a minimum. Supporters believe that requirements as they
stand act as an artificial hurdle, keeping talented people
from entering the profession. They suggest that minimal standards
for licensure should include a criminal check, evidence of
solid general education, and demonstration of content mastery.
They also argue that principals should be free to hire teachers
as needed and pay them based on performance and demand. Accountability
for school performance would ensure schools seek competent
teachers, proponents suggest. Certain programs specifically
target underfunded schools, addressing one of the critical
shortage areas. The negative is that those with potentially
the least teacher training are serving the most educationally
Emergency hiring: Emergency licensure and out-of-area teaching
assignments are areas of debate in the field. Many of those
responsible for hiring decisions see no choice when shortages
exist in certain subject areas or in special education. Opponents
of such practices argue adamantly against emergency hiring
practices and, instead, emphasize concentrating on other measures
to train and attract quality applicants. There is evidence
that the proportion of teachers on emergency certificates
is a strong negative predictor of student achievement (Darling-Hammond,
1999). Candidates may be hired cold, without any
prior training or preparation. This places increased burden
on the local school and division, particularly teachers in
those schools, for mentoring and training on the job. One
special education department chair in a large, suburban high
school in Virginia indicated that an increasing number of
teachers being hired have neither training and experience
with special education populations, nor basic classroom teacher
training. This places a tremendous responsibility on school
personnel who must provide massive on-the-job training, in
addition to their regular teaching and administrative duties.
Late career starters: Some suggest the hiring of older personnel,
typically those coming to teaching after another career or
later in life, including retired military personnel. Proponents
of this idea believe that such candidates bring maturity to
the job, as well as an attraction to the altruistic nature
of the profession. Often such prospective applicants are provided
with reduced requirements for training, such as a one-summer
(or less) intensive program, or post-hiring requirements for
coursework. Opponents argue that the intensive, short-term
training provided to such candidates is insufficient to prepare
these recruits for the job.
Increase licensing and certification requirements: On the
other hand the National Commission on Teaching and Americas
Future recommends increasing requirements for licensure, including:
improving teacher preparation and assessment; raising standards;
encouraging professional preparation; and providing support
for beginning teachers. Supporters of increased requirements
argue that merely jumping through the hoops does
not guarantee quality teachers. With regard to national testing,
for example, there exists significant debate as to whether
the test accurately measures what it seeks to achieve. One
example of efforts to improve requirements includes the Interstate
New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC)a
group of more than 30 states working together to create more
rigorous licensing standards. Content knowledge is only one
element of the licensure requirements for individuals from
accredited programs. The National Council for Accreditation
of Teacher Education (NCATE) standards incorporate not only
the ability to show mastery in field of expertise, but also
demonstrate the ability to effectively teach so that children
may learn. In addition, the theme of technology is interwoven
throughout the standards established.
Five-year programs: Some suggest that states provide incentives
for the establishment of more extended (e.g., five-year and
fifth-year) teacher education programs. The concept behind
this proposal is to increase the depth of training provided
at the university, including extensive clinical preparation.
Others argue for reduction in time requirements for preparation,
saying that the route to licensure discourages potential applicants.
Addressing shortage areas: It has been suggested by some
that universities should work in conjunction with local school
divisions to determine current and projected shortage areas,
and encourage students to pursue those subject areas. Some
simply suggest that universities expand teacher education
programs in high-need fields.
Common ground: Although the views on whether to lower or
raise requirements vastly differ they do hold some common
ground. Both believe that teachers need to know subjects they
teach, and that more learning about how to teach should take
place in actual schools under the supervision of master teachers.
Reciprocity: Some in the field advocate that states establish
licensing reciprocity across states, to allow for ease of
teacher movement from one location to another. In areas experiencing
a mobile teaching population, interstate licensure would ease
the process of hiring teachers. Those who oppose this idea,
however, express concern about inconsistency of expectations
from state to state. Another suggestion most recently is that
states grant a license to out-of-state entrants who have achieved
certification with the National Board for Professional Teaching
Standards. The U.S. Department of Education (2000) reported
learning is doubled among students receiving instruction from
board certified teachers.
University level preparation: Within the realm of training
at the university level, two dichotomous opinions, and a third
composite, are evident. Regarding the content of teacher preparation
programs, one view is that pedagogy should be emphasized.
That is, pre-teachers should be well versed in the methods
of teaching. One study pointed out that teachers with less
preparation in teaching methods are more likely to leave the
field than peers with more training in this area (NCES, 2000).
Another view holds that training should have a greater emphasis
on content knowledge, arguing that a stronger academic background
in ones intended field of teaching is essential to effective
teaching (Forbes, 1998). Yet a third view suggests that both
content knowledge and methods training are essential in the
preparation of teachers (Darling-Hammond, 1999; and others).
After viewing 20 years of research, Darling-Hammond found
a strong and consistently positive influence of education
coursework (i.e. pedagogical study) and licensure on student
achievement (cited in Laitsch, 2000). Another suggestion is
to provide incentives for community colleges and others that
prepare paraprofessionals for certification. Proponents of
this measure suggest that paraprofessionals enter teaching
with experience in schools, and are therefore excellent candidates
to move from paraprofessional to professional roles as teachers.
In addition, in many localities this may also increase the
pool of minority educators.
On-site induction and mentoring: Induction and mentoring
programs for new teachers are currently required in Virginia,
but not yet implemented in all localities nor assessed to
determine quality of implementation. It is generally, and
relatively recently, accepted that support for new teachers
is critical in keeping them on the job. Over half of new teachers
surveyed nationally by Public Agenda expressed a desire for
increased time with an experienced supervisor. A focus on
high-quality programs is key. Detractors of this plan take
issue only with the lack of depth and/or follow through by
mentors within the program (e.g., meeting a mentor one time,
but receiving no direct assistance).
Trade-offs: Recent measurement studies seesaw between findings
that alternative routes produce teachers who are better prepared
and that traditionally prepared teachers remain in the classroom
longer. (Shen, 1997; Stoddart & Flodden, 1995; cited in
Ferraro, 1998). This suggests that neither the traditional
nor alternate routes alone are sufficient to address the challenges
of teacher shortages and licensing requirements.
An external review of the Massachusetts Teacher Tests (MTT),
which have received national attention for excessive failure
rates among teachers, reported that scores in reading and
writing were highly unreliable (Haney, Fowler,
Wheelock, Bebell, & Malec; 1999). A rebuttal from a representative
of the Educational Testing Service (ETS) argued in at least
partial support of the use of the MTT with necessary improvements
Some examples of the licensure and training issues around
the nation include:
All fifty states, as well as District of Columbia, license
prospective teachers. Although the requirements vary and some
can be waived, they remain key in promoting teacher quality
Revising licensing standards: Connecticuts 1986 Education
Enhancement Act eliminated shortages and improved quality.
Standards for licensure were strengthened through more rigorous
requirements for teacher education, carefully designed licensing
exams, and a beginning teacher internship and assessment program.
In addition, a consortium of 38 states is working together
to devise new, rigorous standards for beginning teachers and
to come up with new ways of measuring whether candidates deserve
a license to teach.
Redesigning teacher education: U.S. Secretary of Education
Richard W. Riley announce 5.13 million in new grants to redesign
teacher education in Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana,
Maine, and Oklahoma. The focus will be on changing statewide
policies and practices that continue when federal funding
ends. (Press Release, 2000)
Partnerships: Examples of partnerships between universities
and local school divisions abound. The University of Cincinnati
and Cincinnati Public Schools have engaged in a partnership
for more than a decade, training aspiring teachers in Professional
Practice Schools. Success is noted in hiring rates of teachers
trained via this model; demonstration of leadership; increased
ratings by principals; and increased collaboration. Ongoing
professional development of experienced teachers is provided
through the model. These teachers demonstrate leadership;
higher rates of national board certification; greater commitment
to school reform and use of research-based practices. University
faculty benefit as well in their work. The University of Colorado
at Denver and surrounding public schools also have developed
a two-pronged approach for teacher preparation and ongoing
development. Governance for the programs is shared by the
university and partner schools. In St. Louis, Maryville University
and Parkway South High School have partnered to develop secondary
teachers. Through this partnership, a mentoring team made
up of faculty members from Arts and Sciences, the School of
Education, and the high school follow students through the
program. The mentor team assists in the development of an
action research plan and the individuals professional
portfolio. The University of Southern Maine revised its teacher
preparation program during the last decade, in response to
criticisms of the quality of graduates. They now offer the
Extended Teacher Education Program (ETEP), a two-tiered program
including a bachelors degree and graduate program in
education. Their partnership is with Southern Maine Partnership
schools; together they have developed clearly defined expected
outcomes for graduates. The El Paso (Texas) Collaborative
for Academic Excellence was formed with collaboration from
the University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College,
business and local government leaders, area superintendents,
and a community organization. A primary focus has been on
simultaneously improving the teacher education program and
the quality of education in area schools. Two essential features
have been the efforts to incorporate technology into effective
teaching practices, and preparation for how to work together
with parentsparticularly addressing the local needs
of low-SES and minority parents. Wyoming has addressed its
unique problems of a highly rural and remote school population
with the Video Education Interactive Network (VEIN), a statewide
compressed video system. The network is used for course instruction,
statewide meetings, meetings with pre-service students in
field placements. Students professional portfolios are
recorded on a CD-ROM. Coursework in teaching with technology
is an integral part of the preparation program. Other outstanding
programs are noted in Chattanooga, Milwaukee, Washington,
DC, Oregon, Albuquerque, Ohio, and other areas. (US Department
of Education, National Conference on Teacher Quality: Exemplary
Recognizing national certification: Nearly half of the states
provide raises for teachers completing certification with
the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. North
Carolina teachers earn a 12% raise as a result of successful
completion. Approximately 15 states honor National Board certification,
allowing teachers to carry a teaching license from state to
state (where recognized). Currently, many teachers who move
to a new state leave the teaching field rather than complete
the new states requirements for certification.
Twenty-four states currently provide extra resources for
teachers seeking this voluntary certification, while another
five states have recently approved the practice.
Alternate routes to licensure: Approximately 40 states offer
alternative means for obtaining licensure, beyond the typical
college path, particularly for mid-career switchers and retired
military personnel. Another pool of potential teachers includes
paraprofessionals; at least six states thus far provide incentives
and training for this group. In Virginia, the DeWitt-Wallace
Readers Digest Program at Norfolk State University has
prepared a number of paraprofessionals for teaching. For military
personnel, Old Dominion University has been preparing approximately
200-250 teachers per year in their Troops-to-Teachers program,
through an agreement between Defense Activity for Non-Traditional
Education Support (DANTES). Massachusetts offered $20,000
bonuses in 1998 over four years to selected individuals who
were not in a traditional teaching preparation program. Recipients
of this bonus were provided an intensive summer training program
to prepare them to enter teaching. Critics argue, however,
that this money could be more wisely invested during the 3rd-5th
years of teaching, based on successful (and rigorous) performance
Programs to increase minority applicant pool: NCATE initiated
a support network for historically black colleges in 1995.
Currently 80% have teacher preparation programs receiving
NCATE accreditation or preparing to seek accreditation (Gehrig,
The issues surrounding licensure and training are numerous,
most of which are addressed in this series of policy briefs.
Provided here is a brief mention of some of the related issues.
Professional Development: Ongoing professional development
on the job is a generally accepted practice. Its implementation,
however, is generally assumed and often falls drastically
short of intended benefits.
Retention: Not only must school divisions fill initial positions,
but they must also attend to retaining teachers and administrators
in the job. Attrition rates of new teachers are extremely
high; some reports estimate that 20% of teachers leave the
field by their fifth year, while other estimates are higher.
Improve societal perception of teaching as a career: On
a societal level, increasing the image of and worth given
to teaching as a career is suggested by many as critical to
attracting quality applicants to the profession. In addition,
states and localities might consider increasing the incentives
to not retire.
Recruiting young students in middle and high school: Some
programs target young students before career decisions are
made. Programs typically offer a course or club, in some cases
targeting minorities and males.
New teacher benefits: Increased pay and benefits for new
teachers are suggested by some. The idea behind this strategy
is to entice new teachers into the field, with the hopes that
they will stay in the job.
The importance of having well-prepared and qualified teachers
in our educational system is well documented. As with most
components within education, the need for good teachers is
stated simply. However, the challenge of training and licensing
teachers in order to accomplish this goal is a highly complex
one. No single policy, plan, or perspective can address all
that is involved in this process.
It is critical that policy makers and educators view this
as a holistic, systemic challenge, involving many complex
components. Needs of students and communities will vary from
region to region and state to state, and these needs must
be considered in developing local policy. The needs of a large
urban division may differ greatly from those of a small rural
system or a suburban locality. Needs also are different for
various populations of students, such as those with a low
number of English language learners or a high rate of transience,
for example. In many cases, teachers might benefit from preparation
to address specific needs in diverse settings. This is not
to say that licensure requirements need necessarily be unique
to the situation; the preparation and induction support may
need to be individually tailored, however.
As noted earlier, defining quality is yet another highly
complex and challenging task. This term provides, often, a
moving target. How are quality teaching and teacher preparation
defined? Significant debate exists on this issue. Policy makers
and educators will want to keep in mind that quality should
not be considered synonymous with course credits, test scores,
and other such measures alone. Extensive and interactive discussion
is needed at all levels (policy, university, K-12, community)
to explore this issue in depth and in an ongoing manner.
Policy makers may want to consider the benefits of increasing
the ease with which localities could hire experienced teachers
from a national pool of applicants. In addition to accepting
National Board Certification in place of state level requirements,
establishing or increasing licensing reciprocity among states
demonstrating similar standards and high quality assessments
could be examined further. This would allow localities with
shortages to hire teachers from other geographic regions where
teacher supply exceeds the demand.
Given the current and projected trends in teacher and administrator
retirements, school divisions need flexibility in hiring practices.
However, it is crucial that student learning is not traded
for haphazard hiring practices. In addition, the impact of
unprepared teachers on the local school faculty must also
be considered. As emergency hires are made (often at the last
minute to fill a vacancy) peer faculty and administrators
face immediate, unanticipated demands for providing intensive
training and supervision to assist the teacher without a license
or subject area certification. This point is often overlooked
in the sometimes desperate need to find a warm body
to fill a vacancy as school opens. Policy makers may want
to consider the impact that such policies, without supporting
resources for local schools, are likely to have.
Use of targeted incentives from federal and state governments
to expand programs in shortage fields might be considered.
Funding may be available for areas such as special education,
higher level sciences and mathematics, for example.
Recruiting potential applicants to the field is critical.
Providing channels for middle and high school level students
to explore teaching as a career option is one avenue for consideration.
Recruiting students to college initially and then among non-education
majors is another means for generating interest in a teaching
career. Alternative routes for mid-career changers provide
yet another way for schools to attract potential educators.
Policy makers might consider the financial costs associated
with such diverse recruiting efforts and provide funding sources
for this work to build the pool of potential teachers.
Those teachers trained in five-year programs enter and remain
in higher rates than those in traditional programs. In addition,
the costs are less to prepare students in extended programs.
Policy makers may want to consider the long-term benefits
and cost effectiveness associated with supporting the development
of such programs. In addition, partnerships among universities
and school divisions warrant significant consideration. Development
of meaningful professional development school programs and
integrated training partnerships contribute to effective preservice
training and ongoing professional development for teachers.
Partnerships including community colleges might provide pathways
for paraprofessionals not yet in college, often increasing
the pool of minority teachers. Again, such efforts require
extensive commitment of time and resources from all parties
involved. Policy makers might consider funding incentives
for the development or enhancement of such initiatives.
Intensive mentoring of new teachers results in fewer turnovers.
Training for mentors is critical, and an ongoing relationship
is essential. Such training will require funding and release
time for master teachers and novices alike. The induction
process for new teachers in the early career years cannot
be overlooked. Provision of resources to support new teachers
is likely to increase retention rates of those teachers, thereby
serving as a long-term, cost-effective measure.
Currently there is more rhetoric than reality in current
established standards if districts hire teachers who do not
meet the standards; teachers who meet standards do not stay
in the profession, and; states eliminate or lower standards
for entry into the teaching profession. Increasing, or
for that matter lowering, the standards for licensing
and certification are not likely to address the problems at
hand. A more comprehensive approach to this very complex issue
is called for. This might include consideration of what quality
teaching looks like, how it is achieved, and how to support
its continued development both before and after hiring. Rather
than an either/or approach to teacher preparation (either
traditional or alternative), reframing the issue in a both/and
perspective (creating and sustaining diverse, effective preparation
and ongoing training programs at all levels) is more likely
to bring desired results. This would include high quality
university and college preparation programs as well as carefully
designed, high quality alternative routes for those outside
the field of education. Only with a holistic, comprehensive,
ongoing view regarding the preparation, retention, and development
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