Licensure: Exploring the Value of this Gateway to the Teacher Workforce
Empirical research bears out the conventional wisdom that teacher quality is the key schooling resource influencing student achievement, so it is not surprising that policy makers attempt to influence it by regulating admission into the teacher labor market through licensure systems. Most of these systems require teachers to graduate from an approved teacher training institution and pass one or more tests, the notion being that these preservice requirements ensure a basic level of teacher competence. A criticism, however, is that these requirements dissuade talented individuals from attempting to become teachers, thereby lowering the quality of teachers in the workforce. It is shocking how little we actually know about key aspects of the teacher licensure-teacher quality equation. The great majority of the empirical literature on licensure speaks to one crucial link in the teacher licensure-teacher quality equation: the correlation between licensure requirements and student achievement. In general this literature suggests only weak links between specific licensure requirements and student achievement. Far less evidence exists on the impact of licensure on the pool of potential teachers, or who school district hiring officials would employ in the face of fewer requirements, or the absence of requirements altogether.
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