In June 2016, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction established emergency rules that repealed parts of its teacher licensing requirements under PI-34, a document that prescribes standards, requirements, and procedures for the approval of teacher preparatory programs leading to licensure. These new emergency rules were adopted to curb the teacher shortage in Wisconsin in SS 050-16, published in Register No. 726A1, which includes the following
1. Wisconsin educators 55 and older no longer have to meet professional development requirements.
2. Short-term substitute’s time in position has been increased by 125%.
3. Licensed teachers can add on licenses by passing Praxis II or other content-only tests.
Per the order, this rule change is meant to “address staffing difficulties in school districts . . . to make the teacher licensing process more amenable to school district staffing needs.” Therefore, school districts can hire teachers without the proper credentialing in pedagogy in a specific content area so long as the teacher passes a test showing proficiency in that content. There does not seem to be any stipulation that the emergency licensee must pursue education in the teaching (pedagogy) of the added-on content.
Implications for English Language Arts/NCTE
The softening of teacher licensing may have a dire effect on university schools of education and
departments of English, where teacher certification is housed, as well as the
school districts who hire teachers under this system. Institutions of higher
education in Wisconsin already have been hit hard by lower enrollments and
lowered state funding. Concerns have been raised that allowing teachers not to professionally develop and licensing teachers without appropriate pedagogy in the content area diminishes the professionalization of the field. As a subject-specific methods course is the primary location where teachers develop subject-specific-matter pedagogical content knowledge (Ball, Thames & Phelps, 2008; Shulman, 1987), rescinding this requirement seems in direct conflict with the intent of PI-34 to provide highly qualified teachers to the children of Wisconsin.