Licensure Loopholes: Delaware

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: Delaware results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Delaware's policies

Delaware allows new teachers who have not passed required licensing tests to teach on a three-year emergency certificate. The state can issue an emergency certificate if the candidate holds at least an initial license (which requires a passing score on a basic skills test but not a subject-matter test). The employing district is required to submit a plan to assist the certificate recipient in proceeding toward full certification. At the end of each school year, the district must submit evidence that the teacher received a satisfactory evaluation on the Delaware Performance Appraisal System and document the emergency-certificate holder's progress toward meeting certification requirements.


Recommendations for Delaware

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. Delaware 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 licensure tests. However, Delaware's current policy puts students at risk by allowing teachers to teach on emergency certificates for three years without passing required subject-matter tests.

State response to our analysis

Delaware was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state also noted that the Professional Standards Board is finalizing amendments to limit Emergency Certificate validity to one year, with a possible provision for a one-year school extension, provided the educator has made documented progress toward the Standard Certificate. 

Last word

NCTQ looks forward to reviewing Delaware's progress in future editions of the Yearbook and encourages the state to limit the time teachers are granted to pass subject-matter licensing tests to one year only.

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).