Legislative Update – September 12 – Teacher licensing changes proposed

WEAC is closely monitoring several provisions included in the state budget that impact teacher licensure. With any of the measures, which insiders say are likely to pass, the DPI will have a big role in developing the rules for enactment. WEAC leaders are committed to being front-and-center as an educator voice as procedures are adopted.

Provisions include:

  • Grade level licenses (bands) may be consolidated in the elementary and middle school grades.
  • Broad field licensing for high school teachers maybe expanded.
  • Internships and residencies for pre-service teachers would be encouraged.
  • Out-of-state licensing reciprocity opportunities are increased.
  • Hard-to-fill positions would have expanded licensing pathways.
  • Substitute teaching permits would be granted to candidates with an Associate Degree and specific professional development training.
  • College faculty would be allowed to teach in a high school without a license issued by DPI.
  • Initial teaching licenses will be issued as provisional for three years, and after six semesters of successful teaching, a lifetime license will be granted. (Note: Although not expressly stated, it is expected that all professional teaching licenses will convert to lifetime licenses, as well).
  • Alternative teacher preparation programs would be considered for granting initial teaching licenses. Under this provision, an initial license is awarded to anyone with a bachelor’s degree and who has completed an alternative certification program (aka online licensing factories that refuse to meet minimum standards set by the legislature). Under the measure, the certification program must be operated by a provider that is a non-profit organization under the internal revenue code, that operates in at least five states and has been in operation for at least 10 years, and that requires the candidate to pass a subject area exam and the Professional Teaching Knowledge exam. This opens the door to outfits such as the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, which operates in Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee, to name a few. The Board’s website promotes its program as a way to earn teacher certification in less than one year, without taking on debt or returning to school. Student teaching is not required as a basis of certification. Note: WEAC and the DPI strenuously objected to this provision, as Wisconsin has existing alternative pathways and also recognizes out-of-state licenses. This is a backdoor way to lower standards.