The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.
Kentucky allows teachers who have not passed state assessments to teach on a nonrenewable, conditional certificate for up to one year as long as the teacher preparation program and the school district agree to provide the teacher with support for retaking the assessment. The teacher must retake the required assessments during the one-year period for which the conditional certificate is valid.
For out-of-state teachers with fewer than two years of experience that have not taken required assessments for licensure, Kentucky issues temporary certificates valid for up to six months. These teachers must take and pass all required tests within the six-month window to have the temporary certificate extended for the remainder of the school year.
The state also allows local districts to apply for one-year emergency certificates for teachers without state licensure if they have a bachelor's degree and a cumulative GPA of 2.5 (or a 3.0 in the last 60 credit hours they completed) and no qualified, licensed teacher is available. These emergency certificates cannot be renewed.
16 KAR 2:120 http://www.lrc.ky.gov/kar/016/002/120.htm Kentucky Revised Statutes 161.030 http://www.lrc.ky.gov/KRS/161-00/030.PDF
Ensure that all teachers pass required subject-matter licensing tests before they enter the classroom.
While Kentucky's policy offering its conditional and emergency certificates for one year only attempts to minimize the risks brought about by having teachers in classrooms who lack sufficient subject-matter knowledge, the state should consider whether some teachers' test scores suggest that they should not be teaching that subject matter, with or without additional support. Kentucky could eliminate such risks by requiring all teachers to meet subject-matter licensure requirements prior to entering the classroom.
Kentucky recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.