Student Teaching and Initial Licensure in the Times of Coronavirus

Writing for the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), Patricia Saenz-Armstrong explores how student teaching and initial licensure practices are shifting during this time of school closures. Excerpts from the piece appear below:

School closures have obvious impacts on current students and teachers and are also creating challenges for teacher candidates hoping to graduate this spring and enter classrooms in the fall.

States must now consider how coronavirus-related closures are impacting student teaching and other licensure requirements.

Student Teaching – School closures are affecting the clinical experiences of teacher candidates during the 2020 spring semester, leaving them at risk of not meeting their certification requirements. This is a catch-22 for states, which must balance incoming teacher performance requirements and their impact on students in the long run, with competing and pressing issues such as teacher shortages and the health and safety of the population during this pandemic.

Other Teacher Licensure Requirements – Other certification requirements have also been affected by the current closures. School closures are having a negative impact on teacher candidates’ ability to complete portfolios and performance-based assessments, such as the edTPA. The closure of testing centers is also preventing candidates from being able to sit for their required certification exams.

Moving forward, states should:

  • Make use of emergency licenses as opposed to issuing standard licenses to teachers who have not met the requirements. These licenses should be one-year and non-renewable licenses for teacher candidates who are unable to fulfill specific licensure requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic. Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio are using a one-year emergency license that clearly states it is non-renewable and specifies a deadline for the completion of the missed requirements.
  • Track the impact of the flexibility or waivers granted during this period to ensure that teachers with emergency licenses are not disproportionately assigned to vulnerable populations.
  • Consider extra measures of support for incoming first-year and novice teachers, including additional professional development, induction, and mentoring.

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