Letters to the Editor
The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, in conjunction with the Contract Administrators Association of the Interstate Certification Project and the National Teacher Examination Policy Council, recently conducted a comprehensive survey of state policies, regulations, and practices intended to improve and maintain the quality of professional education preparation. Although the results of the survey have not yet been compiled, our information on teacher recertification is at variance with that of a recent survey conducted by Allan Odden and Van Dougherty for the Education Commission of the States. The results of this survey were cited in your recent article "'Effective-Schools' Efforts Taking Root in the States" (Sept. 22, 1982).
The broadest interpretation of the term "teacher recertification" is that a teacher, once certified, must be certified anew to be employed legally in a state's schools. The opposite condition would exist in states where a teacher's initial certification is valid for the life of the holder, unless the certificate is annulled, revoked, or suspended for cause. Currently, there are only a handful of states with lifetime certification.
What then is the definition of recertification? This varies from state to state but clearly there are some basic distinctions: (a) a permanent or continuing certificate awarded after a teacher, who has received an initial certificate valid for a limited number of years, completes specific graduate-level course work or gains teaching experience or both; (b) ongoing recertification, where a certificate expires after a fixed period of time and can be renewed only if specific academic (collegiate or noncollegiate) or experiential requirements are met; and (c) a permanent or continuing certificate that requires additional course work or experience on a regular, specified basis to remain valid.
Of the 18 criteria that the ecs researchers have identified as school-improvement initiatives, teacher recertification is associated with only eight states--the least number of all but one of the initiatives shown.
Clearly, teacher recertification as generally defined in the previous paragraph predates the current five-year period in which, according to the ecs study, many states created school-improvement programs. More specifically, if the concept of teacher recertificaton as defined in the first two instances above most closely approximates that envisioned by the authors, then our survey's preliminary findings show more than 20 states that currently require teacher recertification, or plan to do so in the next two to five years. In many instances, the impetus for this change occurred in the early '70s, long before the current attention to teacher quality and its effect on educational programs and learning.
Charles C. Mackey Jr. President, 1980-81 National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification Albany, N.Y.