Licensure Loopholes: Louisiana

2011 Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Licensure Loopholes: Louisiana results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/LA-Licensure-Loopholes-10

Analysis of Louisiana's policies

Louisiana allows teachers who have not met licensure requirements to teach for up to three years on a Temporary Authority to Teach (TAT) certificate. Eligible candidates include teachers who have failed a Praxis exam required for licensure and potential alternative certification candidates who fail either a basic skills or a content test. Individuals with a bachelor's degree who are hired late can also teach with a one-year temporary authorization. This authorization may be renewed twice, provided the teacher meets certain guidelines, which, depending on the applicant's category, include taking the Praxis exam at least twice a year and/or completing six credit hours toward certification. 

The state also offers a one-year Temporary Employment Permit (TEP), which allows individuals who have not passed required state tests to teach if their aggregate score on all of their exams is equal to or higher than the total required on all the tests. This permit may be renewed for up to three years if the candidate demonstrates that the test was retaken during the past year. 

Citation

Recommendations for Louisiana

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. Louisiana should ensure that all teachers have passed their licensing tests—an important minimum benchmark for entering the profession—prior to entering the classroom. 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.

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, Louisiana's current policy puts students at risk by allowing teachers who have not passed required subject-matter tests to teach for up to three years on either a TAT or TEP certificate.

State response to our analysis

Louisiana recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

How we graded

Teachers who have not passed licensing tests may 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.

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).