JFC Budget Dramatically Revamps Teacher Licensure

The K-12 spending package adopted by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) last week could have far-reaching effects on teacher licensure and on the teaching profession in our state. The package scraps the alternative teacher licensing proposal the governor put forward in his original budget, but substitutes provisions for middle- and high-school teachers with arguably far fewer safeguards of teacher quality than what the governor proposed, because those provisions abandon a requirement for teacher training programs and, in many cases, even abandon the concept that a bachelor’s degree is required to hold a teaching permit.

(Note: Traditional licensure requires educators in middle and high school to have a bachelor’s degree and a major or minor in the subject they teach, plus completion of intensive training on skills required to be a teacher, and successful passage of skills and subject content assessments.)

While these provisions would place school boards, and not the DPI, as the judge of a teacher candidate’s credentials (which may be welcomed by some school boards), the provisions also empower governing boards of voucher schools to make the same determinations, and direct that the DPI must grant a license or permit if the voucher board deems a candidate qualified.

Here is a more complete description of the general teacher licensure provisions in the JFC package:

For teachers of English, social studies, mathematics, or science: The JFC provisions would require the DPI to issue a teaching license to teach English, social studies, mathematics, or science to any individual with a bachelor’s degree, if the school board of a public school district, the operator or governing body of an independent charter school or the governing body of a private voucher school in which the individual intends to teach determines that the individual is proficient in each subject that he or she intends to teach and that the individual has relevant experience in each subject that he or she intends to teach.

Subjects other than English, social studies, mathematics, or science: Language in the JFC package would require the DPI to issue a teaching permit to teach to any individual in any subject area excluding English, social studies, mathematics, or science, if the school board of a public school district, the operator or governing body of an independent charter school or the governing body of a private voucher school in which the individual intends to teach determines that the individual is proficient in each subject that he or she intends to teach and that the individual has relevant experience in each subject that he or she intends to teach.

A license or permit issued under the above provisions would authorize an individual to teach only: (a) the subject of subjects for which the school board determines the individual is proficient and possesses sufficient experience; (b) within the school district governed by the school board that determines the individual is proficient and possesses sufficient experience; and (c) pupils in grades 6 through 12. The license would be valid for three years, and would be renewable upon a request made jointly by the school board and the license of permit holder. The JFC package language specifies that the DPI could not impose additional requirements for a license or permit issued based on these requirements.

In addition, the JFC package would require the DPI to make an online teacher training program consisting of at least 40 hours of instruction available to any individual holding a license or permit based on the determination of a school board under on the requirements outlined above.

(Note:  The JFC package also contains a separate set of provisions related to technical education teacher licensure. These will be discussed in a separate blog post.) 

Delegates to the WASB Delegate Assembly have adopted the following resolutions related to teacher training and teacher shortages:

4.52 Teacher Training

The WASB supports teacher training programs that require:

(a) Successful completion of an English grammar course;

(b) Successful completion of an experiential requirement;

(c) Successful completion of a teacher competency exam;

(d) Successful completion in a course on the structure and function of the American education system; and

(e) Grade point standards for admission to and retention in teacher training programs.(1998-14)

(f) A working knowledge of Wisconsin’s academic standards and assessments as well as an ability to integrate the state standards into curriculum and instruction. (1999-7)

4.53 Teacher Training Process

The WASB supports a teacher training process that produces highly motivated teachers who understand school governance and are prepared to integrate language arts across all subjects, integrate technology into the school curriculum, adapt their teaching approach to address the needs of a wide variety of children and develop a curriculum in a standards-based system.

This training process must recognize that:

(a) School districts are stakeholders in the teacher education process;

(b) School districts expect to be partners with the universities in ensuring that teacher education institutions are held accountable for quality; and

(c) School boards should not have to take funds out of the classroom to retool new teacher graduates. (1998-14) (2005-21)

4.63 Alternative Certification

The WASB calls on the Superintendent of Public Instruction to actively promote alternative administrative and teacher certification that includes a mentorship/residency and a training program. (1991-15)(2005-22) 

Resolution 15-17: Teacher Shortages & Alternative Licensure Pathways (adopted January 2015)

Create: The WASB supports reasonable efforts to provide pathways to licensure for teaching candidates in subject or content areas where there is a shortage of licensed teachers, provided that candidates have bachelor’s degrees and are qualified to be in a classroom as demonstrated by appropriate experience, knowledge and skills in the subject or content area, and rigorous training in pedagogy, assessment, and classroom management. (2015-17)