Solving Maryland’s Teacher Staffing Crisis: Executive Summary



The Calvert Institute for Policy Research



Solving Maryland’s Teacher Staffing Crisis: A Comparative Analysis of Teacher Certification in Maryland and Other States


June 2013


Executive Summary


Maryland’s public schools consistently suffer from shortages of qualified teachers, especially in science, math, technology, foreign language, special education, and English for Speakers of Other Languages. They also suffer from broad geographical teacher shortages and shortages of male and minority teachers. These shortages have been largely caused by Maryland’s particularly burdensome traditional teacher certification policies, which function as barriers and disincentives to entering the teaching profession. States all over the country have used alternative certification to address teacher shortages, but Maryland’s failure to embrace alternative certification pathways has allowed the State’s teacher shortages to persist.


While more research is needed to gain a complete picture of how Maryland’s traditional and alternative teacher certification requirements compare with requirements in all other states, initial evidence indicates that both traditional and alternative certification in Maryland is more burdensome than in other states, including states whose teaching professions rank higher than Maryland’s.


The educational and training requirements of traditional teacher certification are designed to enhance the quality of the teaching force. However, as study after study has found, such involved requirements have failed to produce any observable effect on teacher performance. In fact, many studies have reported that alternatively certified teachers outperform their traditionally certified counterparts.


There is a large and growing body of evidence that shows that alternatively certified teachers benefit school districts in a variety of ways. In addition to performing at least as well in the classroom, and sometimes better than traditionally certified teachers, alternatively certified teachers help increase the diversity of the teaching force by attracting higher percentages of men and racial minorities to the profession, diminish the use of emergency certification, expand the pool of individuals interested in becoming teachers, and help close the gap between the qualifications of teachers in high-income areas and those in low-income areas. Alternative certification in Maryland already has a track record of success in producing badly needed science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers, producing more than half as many new STEM


teachers as the traditional programs produced candidates

between 2010 and 2012, despite producing six times fewer teachers in all subjects over the same period.

Despite the overwhelming positive evidence about alternative certification, only 12% of Maryland’s new teacher hires over the last 2 years have been alternatively certified, well below the recent 5-year national average of 40% and in spite of Maryland’s critical teacher shortages. A total of 840 of those 902 alternatively certified teachers worked in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, while Maryland’s remaining 22 jurisdictions hired a combined total of only 62 alternatively certified teachers over the last 2 years.


Alternative certification is often the subject of criticism. Yet a review of the criticisms that are commonly levied against alternative certification shows that they are often based on incomplete information. A more thorough examination of alternative certification largely negates its criticisms by reasonably accounting for alternative certification’s perceived shortcomings.


Without a policy change, Maryland’s public schools will continue to suffer from shortages of qualified teachers in critical subjects, geographical teacher shortages, and shortages of male and


minority teachers. Yet Maryland can make substantial progress toward resolving their shortage of public school teachers and strengthen its teaching force by altering and curtailing the state-mandated certification requirements that currently serve as barriers to entering and remaining in the teaching profession. This will allow Maryland to attract greater numbers of candidates interested in teaching and certify them more quickly, helping address Maryland’s long-term teacher shortages. Maryland should also emulate other states that have had positive results in teacher performance, staffing, and diversity by more actively employing alternative certification.


Note: Detailed citations can be found throughout the full report



Posted in: Education