Microcredentials for Teacher Education - State Developments & Digital Promise

Last Updated: 03/10/2024

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Overview

Several U.S. states are incorporating microcredentialing into their educator (teacher) preparation and/or professional development.

The 2020 Virginia legislative session passed an Act to require its State Department of Education to develop a plan to adopt and implement standards for three microcredentials. The governor of Virginia signed a law directing the Virginia Department of Education to craft a system for incorporating and recognizing microcredentials for licensed teachers —to focus on microcredentials in science, math, and engineering. The Department of Education is directed to include the use of presentable work (lesson plans and student projects) as an additional way to avoid classroom time in awarding credentials for skills.

Tennessee completed a statewide pilot program on the functionality of micro-credentials from 2017-2020 by paying teachers to participate in microcredentialing programs from third parties instead of traditional professional development hours. The pilot was successful from a teacher perspective, resulting in greater satisfaction and engagement with professional development. After the pilot, Tennessee continued to offer microcredentialing programs to its teachers in areas to include content areas and skill-building, pedagogy-focused courses on topics like classroom community and student engagement.

Digital Promise, a global nonprofit organization that works with a wide range of partners and practitioners in the U.S. and around the world, has been building an ecosystem of microcredentials for educators since 2014. It offers more than 450 competency-based microcredentials on a wide range of research-backed skills. These microcredentials recognize educators for the skills they develop throughout their careers, regardless of where or how they learned them.  Approved microcredentials are required to be:

  • Competency-based - Microcredentials articulate a discrete skill to support educator practice and the specific evidence educators must submit to demonstrate their competence in that skill.
  • Research-backed - Each microcredential is grounded in sound research that illustrates how that competency supports student learning.
  • Personalized - Educators select microcredentials from the catalogue aligned to personal goals, student needs, or school-wide instructional priorities.
  • On Demand - Educators can start and continue their micro-credential journeys on their own time and in their own ways.
  • Shareable - Microcredentials can be added to your résumé and online profile and shared with current and potential employers.

These microcredentials are developed, assessed, and awarded by more than 50 partner organizations, ranging from institutes of higher education to non-profit organizations.

Digital Promise has designed a framework to guide the development of each microcredential. This framework ensures that each microcredential:

  • focuses on a single competency
  • has a key method backed by research
  • requires the submission of evidence
  • includes a rubric or scoring guide.

According to Digital Promise's Microcredential Program, several states have policies around accepting microcredentials as a valid form of professional development for K-12 teacher certification renewal:

  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming

While many other states do not have statewide policies in place regarding microcredentials for educators, individual districts in the following states may have policies around microcredentials as part of in-service plans and award points for completion of a microcredential: Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin).

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