NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How Certification Rules Impede the Growth of Virtual Schools

July 26, 2011

Teacher-certification requirements are among the most onerous rules enforced by state education agencies and have the potential to seriously limit the scope, quality and accessibility of virtual schooling for years to come.  By design, certification requirements prohibit unlicensed individuals who reside within a state -- such as higher education faculty, private-sector professionals, private school faculty and independent scholars -- from teaching virtual courses, says the John Locke Foundation.

  • There is no question that high-quality teachers produce high-achieving students.
  • The problem is that none of the standards that states and school districts traditionally use to identify high-quality teachers has a significant effect on student performance.
  • A large body of research shows that advanced degrees, years of experience, completion of education courses, teacher test scores and certification status do not improve teacher effectiveness.
  • Unfortunately, state licensure policies continue to use those criteria to determine who can and cannot teach.
  • Certification and licensure rules also artificially limit the number and kinds of teachers that state-managed virtual schools employ.
  • Thus, the most serious barrier to the widespread adoption of virtual schooling is the application of one-size-fits-all teacher-certification rules and regulations designed to maintain the educational status quo.

States should allow their virtual schools to have the flexibility to focus on hiring candidates who possess the requisite skills and relevant knowledge and experience, rather than those who possess mandated credentials, says John Locke.

Source: "Virtually Irrelevant: How Certification Rules Impede the Growth of Virtual Schools," John Locke Foundation, July 6, 2011.

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