The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.
Emergency License(s) Availability:
Colorado allows new teachers with proof of enrollment in a teacher preparation program to teach on an emergency authorization. These authorizations are issued at the request of the employing school district, when no certified teachers are available.
Emergency License Validity Period: Colorado's emergency authorization is valid for one year. The Colorado State Board of Education can renew this authorization for one additional year, when the employing school district can demonstrate "continued existence of the hardship circumstances."
1 Colorado Code of Regulations 301-37: Rule 2260.5-R-4.03 Colorado Revised Statute 22-60.5-111(b)
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. Colorado 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. Colorado's current policy puts students at risk by allowing teachers to teach on emergency certificates for one year and possibly a second year without clear policy on what constitutes "continued existence of the hardship circumstances."
Colorado 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.