Teacher Licensure and State Government: An Update

Many new licensing rules are now in effect for the new school year, and there many additional changes proposed within the state budget and through stand-alone legislation. Here’s what you need to know:

New Licensing Rules Now in Effect Under Emergency Rule

  • Creation of a 3 year license (with stipulations) for a district-sponsored pathway for experienced teachers to receive another teacher license in a new subject or developmental level.
  • Educator Effectiveness as an option for initial and professional educators to use to advance or renew their license. Since the design and implementation phase, WEAC has been recognized as an expert in the Educator Effectiveness process, and offers support to members statewide through regional partnerships. Our union is committed to strengthening our support under this new option for members who seek this optional license renewal and advancement, rather than using a Professional Development Plan (PDP)or graduate credits for license renewal.
  • Library Media Specialists will no longer be required to obtain a master’s degree for licensure.
  • Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructors can now teach high school JROTC courses.

Emergency Rules that Recently Became Permanent

  • Educators who are age 55 or older may apply for a five-year, nonrenewable license without having to meet professional development requirements (i.e., 6 credits or a PDP).
  • Renewal options for emergency licenses have expanded to include attempting to pass required tests for licensure for educators who have met all other requirements.
  • Expanded pathway for teachers to add additional licenses based on content tests to allow:
    1. Teachers who hold an Early Adolescence-Adolescence (grades 5-12) regular education license can add another regular education license at the same developmental/grade level by passing a content test.
    2. Teachers who hold a Middle Childhood-Early Adolescence (grades 1-8) regular education license and have at least four semesters of teaching experience in grades 1 or 2 can add a regular education license at the Early Childhood level (birth to grade 3) by passing the Praxis II Elementary Education Content Knowledge test and the Foundations of Reading Test.
    3. Teachers who hold a Middle Childhood-Early Adolescence (grades 1-8) regular education license and have at least four semesters of teaching experience in English/language arts or math in grades 7 or 8 can add a license in that subject at the Early Adolescence-Adolescence level by passing a content test.
    4. Teachers who hold an Early Childhood-Adolescence (grades PK-12) regular education license can add another Early Childhood-Adolescence regular education license or an Early Adolescence-Adolescence (grades 5-12) regular education license by passing a content test.

Proposed Licensure Changes in the State Budget

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.

  • 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.

If you’re looking for additional information on any of these areas, contact Communications@weac.org.