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Wisconsin Would Be In Minority If Lifetime Teaching Licenses Approved

National Teacher Quality Group Raises Concerns About Professional Development

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Matt Slocum/AP Photo

A proposal in Gov. Scott Walker’s state budget to offer lifetime teaching licenses has a national teacher quality advocacy group raising concerns about the plan.

If the Legislature approves the proposal, Wisconsin would join just three other states — New Jersey, West Virginia and Pennsylvania — that offer lifetime certifications.

Elizabeth Ross, who directs state policy at the National Council on Teacher Quality, said lifetime licensure is concerning because it’s not clear if professional development for teachers would be required or simply recommended by the state after a license is granted.

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“One of the benefits of relicensure is that it provides an opportunity for the state and the district to put in place requirements around what is required of teachers in different stages of their career to advance in licensure,” said Ross.

Currently, teachers must complete six credits of continuing education to qualify for recertification every five years. Language in Walker’s state budget proposal claims this is burdensome for educators and ends up costing them up to $750 over a 30 year career.

Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators Executive Director John Bales said reducing the costs and burdens of relicensure may help with a state teacher shortage, especially with regard to senior-level faculty. But he said professional development requirements shouldn’t be rolled back.

“The challenge isn’t about the license. The challenge is to make sure that we have ways to provide opportunities for teachers to have ongoing, high quality, professional development to stay current in the field,” said Bales.

The governor’s budget proposal calls for continued state support of the state Educator Effectiveness System, which encourages and keeps track of teacher professional development as educators move through their careers.

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