Promoting Professional Learning Through Teacher Licensure Renewal Policies

Writing for New America, Melissa Tooley and Taylor White highlight how the policies undergirding most states’ licensure renewal systems not only conflict with what is known about best practices in adult learning, but that “whether a teacher grows considerably while fulfilling her state’s renewal requirements or does not improve at all is of no consequence under most renewal systems.”

The authors argue that most states are squandering the opportunity to use the relicensure process to promote professional learning that improves students’ educational experiences and outcomes. A few states have recognized this and are trying new approaches that take a more competency-based approach to professional development (PD) as part of relicensure. Rethinking Relicensure surfaces promising practices in these forward-looking states, and provides five recommendations for replacing current compliance-oriented relicensure systems with approaches that attempt to assess the impact of professional development.

The recommendations include the following:

  1. Ensure teachers choose professional learning based on demonstrated needs for growth.
  2. Invest in implementation capacity, particularly around the assessment of meaningful professional learning for licensure renewal.
  3. Explore incentives to promote meaningful professional growth for all teachers as part of the renewal process.
  4. Reduce duplication and ensure coherence throughout state systems that incorporate educator development.
  5. Develop data systems to evaluate the relevance and impact of professional development at a more macro level.

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