Provisional and Emergency Licensure

Hiring Policy

Provisional and Emergency Licensure

The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching. This goal was reorganized in 2021.

Best practices

Michigan and New Jersey fully ensure that all teachers will have met licensure requirements prior to entering the classroom by not offering provisional or emergency licenses. South Carolina does not allow emergency certifications in core subject areas.

Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2021). Provisional and Emergency Licensure national results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/national/Provisional-and-Emergency-Licensure-94
Best practice 3

States

Meets goal 7

States

Nearly meets goal 5

States

Meets goal in part 10

States

Meets a small part of goal 3

States

Does not meet goal 23

States

How long do states permit new teachers to teach under emergency or provisional licenses without passing content licensing tests?

2021
2017
Figure details

No deferral : AL, DC, IL, MI, NE, NJ, NY, OH, SC, SD, UT

Up to 1 year: AK, GA, ID, KS, NH, TX

Up to 2 years:

3 years or more (or unspecified): AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, IA, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NM, NV, OK, OR, PA, RI, TN, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY

Footnotes
AZ: Passage of a content test is one option for candidates in Arizona to demonstrate content knowledge for initial licensure.
CA: Passage of a content test is one option for candidates in California to demonstrate subject matter competence for initial licensure.
CO: Passage of a content test is one option for secondary candidates in Colorado to demonstrate content knowledge for initial licensure.
FL: Florida's temporary certificate is nonrenewable but may be extended for an additional two years for specific "extenuating circumstances."
HI: Passage of a content test is one option for candidates in Hawaii to demonstrate content knowledge for initial licensure.
NV:
OK: Oklahoma's emergency certificate is not issued to those teaching preK-5 unless they have passed the applicable subject-area assessment.
SD: Content licensing tests are optional for middle and secondary candidates in South Dakota.
TX: Emergency Permits can be extended without passing licensing tests if districts receive hardship approval.
WI: Passage of a content test is one option for candidates to demonstrate content knowledge for initial licensure.
WY: Wyoming requires that only elementary education and social studies composite teachers pass a subject-matter test before obtaining an initial license.

Do states mitigate risk associated with emergency or provisional licenses?

2021
2017
Figure details

Yes. State maintains no emergency or provisional licenses.: MI, NJ, SC, SD

Partially. State maintains nonrenewable emergency or provisional licenses.: AK, CA, DC, GA, ID, IL, KS, NC, NE, NH, NY, VA

No. State maintains renewable emergency or provisional licenses.: AL, AR, AZ, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, IA, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MN, MO, MS, MT, ND, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, TN, TX, UT, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY

Footnotes
AL: Passage of content tests is required for first issuance.
DC: The District of Columbia's initial license functions as a de facto provisional license.
FL: Florida's temporary certificate is nonrenewable but may be extended for an additional two years for specific "extenuating circumstances."
IA: There is one emergency extension available for the Conditional Class B licenses "if coursework progress has been made."
NE: Content tests are required for first issuance.
NY: Passage of a content test is required for issuance.
OH: Ohio's supplemental and interim licenses are renewable, but requires passage of content test for first issuance.
UT: Passage of a content test is required for first issuance.
VT: Provisional license is non-renewable but can be extended if there are extenuating circumstances preventing the individual from completing the approved plan for obtaining an initial license.
WY: Only candidates teaching under an emergency authorization while completing licensure requirements may apply for a second and third authorization with "proof of substantial progress toward full licensure."

Updated: March 2021

How we graded

6B: Provisional and Emergency Licensure 

  • Content knowledge: The state:
    • Should not, under any circumstance, award a license to a teacher who has not passed all required content licensing tests.
    • If it finds it necessary to confer emergency or provisional licenses to teachers who have not passed the required licensing tests, should do so only under limited and exceptional circumstances and ensure that all requirements are met within one year.
Content Knowledge
The total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Full credit: The state will earn full credit if all new teachers are required to pass each required content test as a condition of receiving provisional or emergency licensure, or the state does not issue emergency or provisional licenses. A state cannot get full credit in this goal if content tests are not required as part of its initial licensure policy.
  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if it grants emergency or provisional licenses to teachers who have not passed the required content tests, but such licenses are granted for no more than one year and are not renewable. OR The state will earn three-quarters of a point if it grants an emergency or provisional license to a licensed teacher to teach out-of-field for no more than one-year without passing the applicable content test.
  • One-half credit: The state will earn up to one-half of a point if it allows for emergency or provisional licenses to be granted for longer than one year, but the state has strong requirements for applicants (e.g., content area major or preparation program completion without requiring a content test). The state will also earn one-half of a point if the state does not issue emergency/provisional licenses, or issues emergency/provisional licenses with strong requirements, but content tests are not required as part of the state's overall initial licensure policy.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it maintains minimum requirements that fall short of the requirements listed above or only offers emergency or provisional licenses to teachers under "extenuating circumstances."

Research rationale

Teachers who have not passed content licensing tests place students at risk. While states may need a regulatory basis for filling classroom positions with a few people who do not hold full teaching credentials, many of the regulations permitting this put the instructional needs of children at risk, often year after year.[1] For example, schools can make liberal use of provisional certificates or waivers provided by the state if they fill classroom positions with instructors who have completed a teacher preparation program but have not passed their state licensing tests. These allowances are permitted for up to three years in some states. The unfortunate consequence is that students' needs are neglected in an effort to extend personal consideration to adults who cannot meet minimum state standards.[2]

While some flexibility may be necessary because licensing tests are not always administered with the needed frequency, making provisional certificates and waivers available year after year could signal that the state does not put much value on its licensing standards or what they represent. States accordingly need to ensure that all persons given full charge of children's learning are required to pass the relevant licensing tests in their first year of teaching, ideally before they enter the classroom. Licensing tests are an important minimum benchmark in the profession, and states that allow teachers to postpone passing these tests are abandoning one of the basic responsibilities of licensure.


[1] Research often finds a correlation between teachers' content knowledge and their effectiveness. For how this effect can play out in elementary ELA, see: Carlisle, J. F., Correnti, R., Phelps, G., & Zeng, J. (2009). Exploration of the contribution of teachers' knowledge about reading to their students' improvement in reading. Reading and Writing, 22(4), 457-486.; For how this effect can occur in secondary STEM subjects, see: Monk, D. (1994). Subject-area preparation of secondary mathematics and science teachers and student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 13(2), 125-145; For broader information about teacher qualities and student achievement, see: Goldhaber, D. D., & Brewer, D. J. (1997). Why don't schools and teachers seem to matter? Assessing the impact of unobservables on educational productivity. Journal of Human Research, 32(3), 505-523.; National Council on Teacher Quality. (2010). The all-purpose science teacher: An analysis of loopholes in state requirements for high school science teachers. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/p/publications/docs/NCTQ_All_Purpose_Science_Teacher.pdf.
[2] Research has shown that "the difference in student performance in a single academic year from having a good as opposed to a bad teacher can be more than one full year of standardized achievement." See: Hanushek, E. A. (1992). The trade-off between child quantity and quality. Journal of Political Economy, 100(1), 84-117.; Hanushek has also found that highly effective teachers can improve future student earnings by more than $400,000, assuming a class size of 20. Hanushek, E. A. (2011). The economic value of higher teacher quality. Economics of Education Review, 30(3), 466-479. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w16606