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Wading Through the Bureaucracy of Teacher Certification

Wading Through the Bureaucracy of Teacher Certification


As a teacher, I have hundreds of goals. They shift each year with my students. I am dedicated and believe that I am accomplishing much in the classroom. The process the state has set up is a headache more than anything else. Maybe that isn’t true for every teacher. I know that many professional educators, who have the choice to undergo a PDP or take a course, choose the PDP because it is free. Perhaps they find value in the system. Perhaps because their teams can be all peers, they are a little more relaxed.

So many people with good intentions must have supported this state system. I wonder, though, how many teachers were actually involved and what sort of feedback they provided. I can’t imagine having to deal with all of this my first year teaching. (Because I switched states and have been part time, my licensure cycle is a little out of order.) I recently went to a Madison Metropolitan School District session on completing PDPs, and a woman there was crying. The instructor tried to explain that the PDP exists to help initial educators, and the teacher said through her tears, “This will be the reason that I leave teaching.” I can’t imagine that the PDP planners would have wanted that.

And so it is with most top-down education reform grounded in theory: it is mostly well-planned, has built in means of assessing quantifiable progress, but ignores the emotions and needs of the people in the classroom.

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So, the point here is not just to complain about the disappointments of Wisconsin’s licensure system, but to suggest an alternative. Why not require teachers to become Nationally Board Certified or, at least, forgo state licensure for teachers pursuing NBC? Here is a system that actually monitors how a teacher is at teaching. Even looking at the language arts standards makes me feel like a teacher with greater focus. If you’re interested in more information, see their Web site at

I wonder which other states have moved beyond credits into bureaucracy or if any states do accept NBC instead of their licensure requirements. What have you all had to do to maintain your certification? What would be better?

Gabrielle teaches English and Drama at a school for gifted students in Madison, WI.

Helpful Certification Links:

Don’t Wait: Renew Your Credential
Alternate Routes to Teaching Certification
Teaching State Directory for Teaching Jobs
5 Steps to Becoming a Teacher
Certification Requirements for all 50 States

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