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States Can Refine Relicensure Policies and Teacher Preparation to Advance Deeper Learning

For Immediate Release: April 18, 2018

Contact: Michael Spaeth,, 703-684-4002

States Can Refine Relicensure Policies and Teacher Preparation to Advance Deeper Learning

Alexandria, VA — An effective, well-prepared teacher workforce is central to students’ mastery of deeper learning skills such as critical thinking and teamwork. Two new NASBE policy updates help state boards of education examine the policy levers for increasing teachers’ capacity to engage students. Author Don Long urges boards to invigorate relicensure policies by embracing multiple tiers that support teachers throughout their careers and implementing requirements such as work portfolios, individual learning plans, and microcredentials. In another piece, author Gary Colletti suggests embedding philosophy instruction in teacher preparation programs to enable teachers to model skills they want students to acquire.

Relicensure requirements vary from state to state in a confusing, inconsistent patchwork that generally fails to require rigorous content and pedagogical knowledge. The system thus fails to support the profound instructional shifts required for advancing deeper learning skills, Long writes.

However, several promising state efforts use relicensure to support professional learning and develop career progressions toward increasing mastery and expert judgment. Rhode Island and Louisiana integrate licensure, licensure renewal, and educator evaluations based on evidence of effectiveness. New Mexico requires submission of a work portfolio, Georgia requires the creation of an individualized professional learning plan, and state boards in Delaware and Tennessee have explored microcredentials that could be counted toward license renewal. Additionally, many states are moving toward multitiered licensure. Seventeen states use at least three tiers, and Georgia has a four-tiered system: preservice, induction, professional, and advanced.

“An effective teacher workforce is essential to getting students ready for college and careers,” writes Long. “Conversely, weakening or waiving teacher relicensure risks sending the wrong message to the public and undermining a commitment to equity. State boards can use their powers of licensure to support teacher pipelines and career progressions toward mastery. Since relicensing affects all public school teachers, it can advance the profession immediately and powerfully.”

The teaching of philosophy provides an elegant framework for building deeper learning competencies in K-12 settings, Colletti asserts. A former teacher of high school philosophy, Colletti also lends personal testimony to the subject’s ability to engage diverse student populations.

Although no state has adopted standards of learning or course requirements for teachers in the U.S., schools of education in Ontario offer teacher preparation courses for philosophy. In addition, UNESCO recommends introducing philosophy courses and pedagogy in teacher training, with the aim of embedding philosophical enquiry in primary and secondary education and developing future teachers’ critical thinking.

“By encouraging universities to infuse philosophy instruction into teacher preparation programs, state boards can increase the capacity for teachers to engage K-12 students in all schools,” writes Colletti. “Such instruction will lessen teachers’ apprehension toward adding philosophical practice to K-12 classrooms, help students master all academic content, and develop the social and emotional learning benefits associated with improved skills at communication and self-analysis.”

Read and share the NASBE policy updates “Leveraging Relicensure Policies to Advance Deeper Learning” and “Engaging Philosophy in the Quest for K-12 Deeper Learning.” 

NASBE is the only national organization giving voice and adding value to the nation’s state boards of education. A nonprofit organization founded in 1958, NASBE works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and ensure continued citizen support for public education. Learn more at


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