The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.
Kansas allows new teachers who have not met all or part of their licensure testing requirements to apply for a one-year, nonrenewable teaching license. Teachers must complete all required tests during the school year in order to upgrade to the conditional teaching license.
Kansas also allows some teachers who have not met its licensure requirements to continue teaching under a two-year prestandard license, referred to as Exchange Teaching. Based on an exchange agreement with nine other states, teachers who have completed an approved teacher education program can teach for two years while completing any licensure deficiencies, including subject-matter assessments.
Kansas Department of Education One Year Non-Renewable Teaching License Requirements http://www.ksde.org/?tabid=308 Kansas Department of Education Two Year Exchange License Requirements http://www.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=307
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. Kansas 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, Kansas's current policy puts students at risk by allowing out-of-state teachers to teach on exchange certificates for up to two years without passing required subject-matter tests.
Kansas recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that as directed by the State Board of Education, regulations were reviewed to remove barriers for out-of-state applicants. As a result, Kansas has created a system that guarantees access for fully licensed out-of-state applicants to start teaching by providing a series of licenses that allow full-time teaching while providing a time frame to complete any deficiencies such as testing.
Kansas should require that all teachers, even those previously licensed in other states, meet all of its content testing requirements before entering the classroom. Some states set extremely low standards for passing their licensure tests. Kansas takes considerable risk by granting licenses to all teachers without ensuring that they meet the state's standards. If a conditional license is necessary to put a teacher in the classroom, then the state is urged to allow only one additional year to meet testing requirements. While the state may feel that additional time is warranted to fulfill coursework requirements without overburdening the new teacher, two years is too long to allow an individual to remain in the classroom without proving that he or she has the requisite subject-matter knowledge.
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.