Licensure Loopholes: Arizona

Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy


The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Licensure Loopholes: Arizona results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Arizona's policies

Arizona allows teachers who have not passed their licensing tests to teach for one year under an emergency teaching certificate. That certificate can be reissued, and the state does not specify how many times a reissuance can occur.


Recommendations for Arizona

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, instead extending personal consideration to adults who may not be able to meet minimal state standards. Protecting the most disadvantaged children from being in classrooms with teachers who have not passed licensure tests is a step in the right direction, though it appears that this policy is not in effect in Arizona. The state should ensure that all teachers have passed their licensing tests—an important minimum benchmark for entering the profession—prior to entering the classroom.

Limit exceptions to one year.
There might be limited and exceptional circumstances under which conditional or emergency licenses need to be granted. In these instances, it is reasonable for a state to give teachers up to one year to pass required licensing tests. Arizona's current policy puts students at risk by allowing teachers to teach on emergency certificates for three years without passing required subject-matter licensing tests.

State response to our analysis

Arizona asserted that it no longer issues emergency teaching certificates to core academic teachers because that certificate is considered a waiver by the USDOE, and, therefore, the holder does not meet ESEA Title IIA highly qualified teacher requirements.

Last word

It does appear that the state is not presently issuing emergency certificates. However, as long as the regulatory language remains unchanged, the state remains authorized to do so at any time.   

Research rationale

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).