Following a string of scandals related to student attendance and graduation rates, an internal investigation by the District’s State Superintendent of Education found that 1,000 teachers lack the credentials necessary to teach in the District of Columbia, many due to an expiration of their credentials.
The article uses the terms “certification” and “license” somewhat interchangeably, despite the important distinction between the two terms. The District offers a number of different options to qualify to work for the D.C. Public Schools (DCPS), including traditional licensure and initial credentialing with demonstrated effectiveness in teaching for a local education agency.
Interim chancellor of DCPS Amanda Alexander said that the lack of certification does not mean the teachers are unqualified to teach (they all have college degrees and have undergone drug and criminal background checks). Alexander also stated in an interview with The Washington Post that, “We do believe in the value of licensure…Licensure is just one of many components when we look at whether our teachers are meeting a high standard of excellence. Before they receive an offer, we do a background check. Our selection process is rigorous.”
There is little evidence that licensure improves teacher quality, save in wealthier school districts, but restricting entry to the teaching profession is shown to reduce minority representation among teachers and adverse selection problems from the non-transferability of teaching skills needed for licensure leads to lower-quality teachers in the profession compared to regimes with less-restrictive alternative requirements.