One in four DCPS teachers lack DC teaching license


Mia Chinni

Almost a quarter of DCPS teachers are unlicensed, according to a yearlong internal investigation from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).

To be licensed, teachers must pass exams offered by DCPS and complete certification courses. Teachers are exempt from these exams only if they have been rated “effective” or higher on classroom evaluations.

Councilmember David Grosso, in an interview with The Washington Post earlier this summer, stated that licensing teachers is important to raise the standard of a student’s education. “Licensing requirements were put in place to ensure that our students are safe and that we have quality educators in our schools.”

Joe Weeden, a member of the DC Board of Education, believes that proper licensing ensures that teachers are adequately trained and prepared. “Licensing [of teachers] is the safety net,” Weeden stated in an interview with DC’s News4 I-Team.

While many teachers lack licensure, all DCPS teachers have college degrees and have undergone background checks, according to city officials. “The lack of city-issued certification does not mean the teachers are unqualified to educate children,” Interim Chancellor Amanda Alexander said in an interview with The Washington Post earlier this summer. “Licensure is just one of many components when we look at whether our teachers are meeting a high standard of excellence.”

English teacher Joseph Welch notes that delays within DCPS Central Office make it difficult to get licensed. “I know the DCPS Central Office has been, for me, very slow,” he said. Welch says it took the office six months to issue his licence.

Widespread lack of teacher licensing is not prevalent in nearby school districts as it is in DCPS. Prince George’s County and Anne Arundel Public Schools said 100 percent of their teaching force is licensed. In these districts, only substitute teachers are allowed to be unlicensed.

DCPS plans to begin reinforcing the requirements in the 2018-2019 school year, when all newly hired teachers will need to apply for their license with the OSSE before beginning work. The school system and the teacher’s union will work to notify veteran teachers about the necessity of a licence, though they have not specified when they’ll begin the notification process.

This investigation adds to recent bad publicity for DC’s school system, including reports of fraudulent graduation rates, widespread attendance violations, and residency fraud.