The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.
Indiana allows new teachers who have not passed required subject-matter licensing tests to teach on an emergency permit, which is valid for one year but can be renewed twice. To qualify for the permit, the employing school superintendent must submit evidence of an emergency situation, as well as verification of the applicant's progress toward meeting standards in the content area and his or her enrollment in an approved certification program.
Renewal requires six semester hours of coursework toward an initial license in the subject area or verification of appropriate progress by the licensing advisor.
515 IAC 9-1-19 511 IAC 16-4-1
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. Indiana 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.
Indiana respectfully disagreed with this rating and asserted that the state does not issue a standard or initial license to a teacher who has not passed all required subject-matter licensing tests. Indiana indicated that it felt that the state had at least partially met this standard.
Indiana Administrative Code clearly allows for the issuance of emergency permits. If the state at present denies all requests for such permits, the fact remains that the policy is on the books. The only way to make sure that emergency certificates are not granted at any point in the future is to repeal the authorizing code. Further, even if it is in the best interest of students to prohibit emergency certificates, it does local districts and prospective emergency hires no favors by allowing them to believe such permits can be issued if they are routinely denied.
Teachers who have not
passed licensing subject-matter 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 minimal state standards.
While some flexibility may be necessary because licensing tests are not always administered with the needed frequency, the availability of provisional certificates and waivers year after year signals that even 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.
Extended Emergency Licenses: Supporting Research
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, Volume 100, No. 1, February 1992, pp. 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, December 2010.