Every five years, all public school educators in Maryland are required to renew their licenses to teach. This process is meant to ensure that teachers maintain competent practice and engage in career-long learning, development, and growth. However, the current process is cumbersome, unfocused, and largely disconnected from best practice around professional development and other systems with which teachers interact, such as evaluation and compensation.
While Maryland’s recertification system falls short in meeting its objectives, districts throughout the state are investing at least $52.8 million each year in professional development activities. Accounting for the time teachers and other school staff invest in professional learning and development and the direct costs borne by districts, Maryland is likely spending between $86.28 million and $1.08 billion on professional development annually.
Given the ambiguous relationship between licensure renewal and teacher effectiveness in the classroom—and that it is largely a publicly funded effort, unlike many other regulated, licensed professions—recertification in the state warrants a reexamination.
In “Reconsidering Teacher Recertification in Maryland,” author Mark Procopio examines the current system for recertification and questions Maryland’s overreliance on state-approved professional development trainings or graduate-level coursework despite research largely not bearing out the impact and value of these trainings and degrees on teacher effectiveness. Moreover, on the job training and development, which educators most value, are largely not eligible towards recertification requirements.
In the absence of demonstrable evidence that this system is working, the report finds that the state should remove or minimize the compliance requirements related to recertification. To achieve the goal of ensuring recertification encourages continued, effective teacher development resulting in stronger instructional practice and student outcomes, the report offers the following recommendations: