Teacher Certification and Student Outcomes: What the Research Says

Lawmakers are considering two bills that would allow uncertified and unlicensed individuals to teach in public schools as long as they work “part-time,” or less than 30 hours per week. It also waives licensure requirements for part-time paraprofessionals. 

SB 374, which the Senate has already passed, and HB 1298, which is scheduled for a committee vote in the coming weeks. What does the research say about teacher certification and student outcomes?

Here are 3 things to know:

  1. Teacher quality is the most powerful indicator of student achievement within the school. The effect of a high-quality teacher can be as much as one grade level in annual achievement growth. High-quality and effective teachers are well-versed in teaching methods, learning theory, child development, assessment, and their content area. 
  2. High-quality preparatory programs, whether it is a “traditional” program or alternative pathways like Grow-Your-Own programs, help future teachers build the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively serve their students. 
  3. Uncertified teachers leave the profession at a higher rate than certified teachers. Approximately 30% of uncertified teachers leave the profession within a five year span compared to 15% of certified teachers. 

Much of the research on teacher licensure and certification includes alternative certification pathways, rather than a complete waiver of preparatory requirements. Studies often focus on the relationship between teacher certification and student outcomes, comparing teachers who have followed traditional certification pathways with alternative preparation pathways like Site-Based Learning Plans (SBLP), rather than completely abandoning all preparatory requirements. 

Addressing teacher shortages in New Hampshire and nationally

Nationally, states are pursuing a variety of pathways to certification to address national teacher shortages, including increasing their minimum starting salary and investing in apprenticeships and “Grow Your Own” programs that provide alternative pathways for future teachers to become certified. 

In New Hampshire, the effort to waive certification requirements for teachers and paraprofessionals marks a vastly different approach to addressing the workforce shortage than what was proposed by a two-year study committee, the Committee To Study Teacher Shortages and Recruitment Incentives. That committee urged lawmakers and districts to address some of the most consequential challenges facing schools in retaining teachers, including low teacher pay, controversial legislation like banning history, and the high cost of higher education. 

New Hampshire lawmakers have already begun implementing several of the recommendations of the study committee. Last year, they approved a program that would provide student loan forgiveness for teachers who teach in rural and underserved schools. This year, they are considering the creation of an induction program for new teachers with that emphasizes mentorship and partnerships with the community, which has been shown to increase teacher attrition and job satisfaction. This bill, HB1608, is schedueld for a hearing in House Education Monday, March 4, 2024 at 9:00 a.m.

Full list of bills related to the work of the Committee To Study Teacher Shortages and Recruitment Incentives:

  • SB217, which establishes the rural and underserved area educator incentive program.
  • HB1608, which creates an induction program for new teachers.
  • SB521, which changes definition of “master teacher” to 7 years of teaching experience, portfolio, and demonstrated quality of teaching. 
  • HB1164, which extends the validity of a criminal history records check of a first time teacher credentialing applicant to 4 years. 

Next Steps

The House Education Committee is scheduled to vote on a recommendation for  HB 1298 on March 6.  SB 374 passed the Senate in February and has been referred to the House Education Committee. Action on the bill has not yet been scheduled. 

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