The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.
Alaska does not require subject-matter testing for new teachers. The state's initial license only requires candidates to have a passing score on a basic skills test. The state's current certification system allows new teachers to delay passing a subject-matter test for three years.
The state does require that teachers receive passing scores on the Praxis II to obtain a professional teaching certificate, which a teacher may obtain after three years of teaching.
4 AAC 12.305; 4 AAC 04.210
Award standard licenses to teachers only after they have passed all required subject-matter licensing tests.
All students are entitled to teachers who know the subject matter they are teaching. Permitting individuals who have not yet passed state licensing tests to teach neglects the needs of students, instead extending personal consideration to adults who may not be able to meet minimal state standards. 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. As such, Alaska should require all teachers to pass subject-matter tests prior to entering the classroom. The state's current policy puts students at risk.
Alaska recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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 E. Hanushek, "The Trade-Off between Child Quantity and Quality," The Journal of Political Economy 100 No. 1 (1992): 84-117. Hanushek has also found that highly effective teachers can improve future student earnings by more than $400,000, assuming a class of 20. "The Economic Value of Higher Teacher Quality." National Bureau of Economic Research. Working Paper 16606 (2010).