Microcredentials are finding their way into educators’ professional development programming, and while they aren’t a substitute for more robust offerings, they do allow educators to show their skills and expertise, EdSurge reports.
Districts in several states — including Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington — are already experimenting with microcredential programs, but Odelia Younge, senior project director of the educator microcredentials initiative at Digital Promise, recommends careful vetting to ensure broad buy-in on their worth.
States need to define which leadership roles are most important and create microcredential programs to match — and once the microcredential is earned, teachers must be allowed to share their expertise through teacher-led PD.
The teacher-training microcredential trend allows educators to specialize and gain additional training in the areas most relevant to their interests and classroom style. Once they earn those credentials, they can share their knowledge with their peers through teacher-led PD.
This is another example of how the traditional sit-and-get model of professional development is being replaced by more relevant training teachers seek. To offer these programs, states and districts typically contract with companies like Digital Promise.
Some districts, including New York City and the Kettle Moraine School District in Wales, Wisconsin, have tried tying microcredentials to pay increases and promotions. Others, including Mineola Union Free Schools in Long Island, New York, offer leadership opportunities. In fact, Mineola also offered a permanent $500-a-year pay bump for teachers who completed 18 microcredentials in its pilot year. Two teachers managed to complete that task.
Advocates of these programs say students also see a benefit in the classroom because teachers must often work with students to earn the credentials. However, states and districts need to carefully vet providers to ensure they're worth the time and money.
So far, feedback from teachers suggests a positive impact on their practices, along with an appreciation for the personalized learning and schedule flexibility that microcredential programs offer.