Licensure Loopholes: Kentucky

Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy


The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.

Nearly meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Licensure Loopholes: Kentucky results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Kentucky's policies

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 that 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. Beginning July 1, 2011, these emergency certificates will no longer be available for renewal.


Recommendations for Kentucky

Ensure that all teachers pass required subject-matter licensing tests before they enter the classroom.
While Kentucky's policy attempts to minimize the risks brought about by having teachers in classrooms who lack sufficient subject-matter knowledge by offering its conditional and emergency certificates for one year only, the state should consider whether some teachers' test scores suggest they should not be teaching that subject matter, with or without additional support.  As described in several other goals, the state's cut scores on at least some tests are already set at a point that makes assurance of content knowledge questionable; granting a conditional license to individuals unable to meet these low bars puts adult interest before student need. Kentucky could eliminate such risks by requiring all teachers to meet subject-matter licensure requirements prior to entering the classroom. 

State response to our analysis

Kentucky was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

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).