The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching. This goal was reorganized in 2021.
Emergency License(s) Availability: Arkansas authorizes the use of an emergency teaching permit by a nonlicensed teacher and waivers from licensure rules by request of a district. Persons teaching under either of these license exceptions must meet the state's Qualified Teacher Requirements. To meet the Qualified Teacher Requirements, an applicant must have a bachelor's degree or higher and one of the following: the degree is in the content area to be taught, passage of a content area assessment, National Board Certification, documentation of relevant work experience, or a bachelor's or advanced degree with at least 18 credit hours in the content area to be taught.
Arkansas also authorizes the state board to issue provisional licenses.
Additional Licensure Plan (ALP): A teacher with a standard license can teach out-of-field on an Additional Licensure Plan. The ALP is issued by the Arkansas Department of Education.
Traditional Preparation Route Candidates: A provisional license can be issued to a candidate who has completed all licensure requirements (including passage of content tests) except for: completed coursework in Arkansas history, passage of a pedagogy test, or, if applicable, passage of a reading test.
Emergency License Validity Period: The emergency teaching permit is valid for the school year in which it is issued, but may be extended for one additional school year with approval from the Arkansas Department of Education. Waivers from licensure rules or laws shall not be granted for more than five years.
Provisional licenses for traditional route candidates are issued for one year and are nonrenewable.
An ALP is valid for three years and is not renewable. If the ALP is issued for testing out of a content area, the teacher must attempt the content test during the first year. If the content test isn't passed, the teacher must complete six semester hours toward the new endorsement area each year until the content test is passed.
COVID-19 State Policy: Arkansas has implemented the following changes to its rules regarding Provisional and Emergency Licensure. Institutions of higher education will recommend candidates from their educator preparation programs for licensure. In the event that a graduate is missing one or more required components for a standard license, the DESE will exercise options to issue a Provisional License or an Emergency Teaching Permit as applicable. Additional Licensure Plans (ALP), Administrator Licensure Completion Plans (ALCP), Emergency Teaching Permits (ETP), and Long-Term-Substitute (LTS) will be approved or denied on a case-by-case basis using maximum flexibility due to COVID-19. Current documentation procedures still apply. COVID-19 policies do not affect the state's grade in Provisional and Emergency Licensure.
Requirements for Out-of-State Teachers: Because licensure requirements for out-of-state teachers are scored in Requirements for Out-of-State Teachers, only the state's policies regarding emergency/provisional license(s) are considered as part of this goal.
Ensure that all teachers pass required subject-matter licensing tests before they enter the classroom.
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, because it enables adults who may not be able to meet minimal state standards to earn teaching licenses. Arkansas should ensure that all teachers are required to pass licensing tests — an important minimum benchmark for entering the profession — before entering the classroom as the teacher of record.
Limit exceptions to one year.
Although suboptimal, there may be limited and exceptional circumstances under which conditional or emergency licenses are necessary. In these instances, it is reasonable for a state to give teachers up to one year to pass required licensing tests. Arkansas's current policy puts students at risk by allowing teachers to teach on emergency certificates up to three years without passing required subject-matter licensing tests.
Arkansas recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
6B: Provisional and Emergency Licensure
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. 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.
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.