Day 11: Adopt Teacher Certification System Based on Student Outputs, Not Inputs

Day 11:  Adopt Teacher Certification System
Based on Student Outputs, Not Inputs

There is increasing evidence that excellent teachers are among the most important factors in improving educational outcomes in public schools.1 Unfortunately, there is also a great deal of evidence that traditional teacher certification tools do not have a significant impact on teacher quality.2 The following chart illustrating the small impact of teacher certification.

It is widely-recognized that more, better, teachers are essential to improving our educational system, yet government licensing policies are designed to limit supply. A PhD physicist who has retired from Sandia Labs would need years of additional schooling to put their considerable schools to work as a teacher in the classroom.3

Teacher licensing is an issue both for those who would like to become teachers through alternative paths and for accomplished and effective teachers who would move up in terms of pay much faster absent the “three-tiered licensing” system New Mexico has in place.4

According to the New Mexico Effective Teacher Task Force:

The current teacher recognition process in New Mexico places emphasis on years of experience and credentials obtained. Members of the Task Force recognize these factors are important; however, they fail to offer teachers any acknowledge of student achievement. Many New Mexico teachers see the growth of students in the classroom, but work in a system that does not recognize or reward them for it.5

The Legislative Finance Committee recently confirmed the fact that teacher licensing in New Mexico is ineffective, saying: “New Mexico’s three-tiered career ladder system does not align pay with student achievement.”6

The New Mexico Legislature must enact legislation to allow for truly alternative teacher certification paths for qualified professionals. Eliminating the “three tiered” licensing system (which measures inputs) in favor of a system that measures and rewards outputs in terms of student achievement would also be sensible.

1Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff, “The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers,” National Bureau of Economic Research, December 2011,

2Robert Gordon, Thomas Kane, Douglas Staiger, “Identifying Effective Teachers Using Performance on the Job,” The Brookings Institution, April 2006,

3New Mexico Public Education Department

4Teach NM, “3-Tiered Licensure System,”

5New Mexico Effective Teaching Task Force: “Final Report and Recommendations,” August 26, 2011;

6Legislative Finance Committee, “Promoting Effective Teaching in New Mexico,” November 15, 2012,

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2 Replies to “Day 11: Adopt Teacher Certification System Based on Student Outputs, Not Inputs”

  1. Aren’t value added test scores the best way to measure teacher competence? For example, a student starts the school year with a new teacher and tests at the 50% comprehension level. At the end of the year, the student is tested for reading and now scores at the 47% level. The student has regressed under this example. The teacher has done a poor job.

    Teachers’ unions have vehemently opposed value added test scores for decades – which leads me to believe the scores probably have merit.

  2. There are probably some methodological challenges with value added measurements.

    On the other hand, “value added” should be an important philosophic principle undergirding the assessment of student achievement.

    After all, if teachers and schools cannot show that students have “learned more” or “achieved more” as a result of the experience, then it is doubtful that they have really accomplished much.

    There is also an important place for standards-based assessments, if the standards are sufficiently challenging and if they pertain to some real world goal.

    It is important to know how our students’ performance measures up to that of students in other states and other nations.

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