SBOE Approves Changes to License Requirements

As expected, the State Board of Education approved changes to licensing requirements. The Parsons Sun speaks in favor of the move:

Changes the state board approved include removal of the requirement for out-of-state teachers, no matter their years of classroom experience, to have earned a 2.5 grade point average in college to be hired in Kansas. Teachers still would have to pass exams in the subjects they teach to get a license.

The new policy also would allow a licensed teacher with an endorsement in one science subject to gain an additional endorsement by passing the state’s content exam. So, a high school biology teacher could pass a test to become qualified to also teach chemistry.

[snip]

But it also points out an intriguing idea made by the board’s former chairman:

Board Member Steve Abrams, Arkansas City, was the lone dissenter on the 10-member state board, saying the move will decrease the quality of education. He suggested the state develop other ways to determine teacher effectiveness, including a licensing system partly based on test scores.

“If scores go up, then they have done all that’s expected. If they go down, they have proven not to be effective,” Abrams said.

The Sun dismisses the idea of using test scores on the grounds that “How students do on standardized tests, while a big focus because of federal mandates, is not the only indicator of future success in school or in life and shouldn’t be overly relied upon as an indicator of a successful and qualified teacher.”

Requiring newcomers to the state to pass a performance standard, while none is applied to those who started their teaching careers in Kansas, may be unfair. It would also be odd given the fact that performance has no bearing on teacher compensation.

Some districts around the country are starting to experiment with pay-for-performance, if only for bonus money and not total compensation. But that would be a start. As for loosening the requirements for cross-disciplinary teaching in the sciences, on balance that’s probably a good thing.

(Parsons Sun Friday Editorial, June 15).

The DeSoto Explorer has more.  See Start changes teachers’ licensing requirements, June 21.

“We think it will reduce a little bit the barriers that we see in the teacher licensure system without doing anything to reduce the quality of the people,” said Martha Gage, who is director of teacher education and licensure for the Kansas State Department of Education.

Gage said changes are needed because Kansas schools are “facing some critical shortages,” especially in science and math instruction.

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