The Wisconsin state department of education announced a new path for potential teachers to receive certification. Those who have teaching experience in private schools, workplace training centers, or child care centers can qualify to receive a teacher equivalency certification.
“We want to create career opportunities and at the same time ensure students have great educators in the classroom,” state Superintendent Tony Evers said in a press statement.
The License Based on Equivalency (LBE), as it is called, is designed to allow those with teaching experience from other states and places outside public education an easier pathway to show their experience and become eligible to teach in Wisconsin schools.
“We know there are people who have completed college, have work and content area expertise, and would like to share their knowledge by becoming teachers in our public schools,” Evers said. “The License Based on Equivalency will help them get there.”
In order for a candidate to be considered for an LBE, the candidate must meet the following criteria:
• Have a bachelor's degree
• Have been a private school teacher, or
• Be an out-of-state alternative route completer, and
• Have at least 3 years of teaching experience in PK-12, post-secondary, and/or an industry
While many see this as a positive step toward making it easier to get more qualified teachers in the classroom, some experts are expressing reservations.
Marvin Lynn, associate dean for teacher education at UW-Eau Claire's College of Education and Human Sciences, explained to the Superior Telegram in Superior, Wis. that while he believes this is a positive step, he worries about the new system’s ability to determine who is ready to become a public school teacher.
“From the perspective of most higher education professionals, I would say it will be more difficult to determine whether or not these people have the requisite knowledge and skills and dispositions that we require for people to become teachers in this state,” Lynn said.
However, anyone accepted into the program will be required to participate in Wisconsin-recognized educator preparation programs and have to pass a performance-based assessment to determine their competency.
“Having a well-prepared and high-quality educator in the classroom is one of the most important factors driving improved student achievement,” Evers said.
Wisconsin, and many other states, have similar programs that allow teachers to take an alternative route to receiving licensure.
However, those programs are more rigorous in that the candidate must have a bachelor’s degree in their respective field—meaning if a candidate wants to teach math they must have a degree in math—or take extra classes to become qualified.
Gov. Scott Walker and teacher’s union officials praised the move as it would allow school districts facing teacher shortages a quick way to fill positions in high-need areas like math, science and foreign languages.
“We will continue to work together to strengthen this honored profession,” Walker said in a statement. “We must also help districts find qualified men and women with workplace experience who are interested in sharing their knowledge with the next generation, especially in high need areas like science and math.”
Daniel Duerden is a writer and content editor for 360 Education Solutions