The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.
Emergency License(s) Availability: Massachusetts has a waiver for critical shortage situations in which no fully qualified teacher is available. Individuals employed under these waivers must demonstrate that they are making progress toward meeting certification requirements.
Massachusetts also allows certified, out-of-state teachers to teach on a temporary license if they have not failed any part of the applicable licensing tests.
Emergency License Validity Period: Massachusetts's one-year waiver for critical shortage situations is valid for one year and is not renewable. The out-of-state temporary license is valid for one year and is nonrenewable.
603 CMR 7.04 (2)(d) and 603 CMR 7.15 (13) Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: Educator Licensure http://www.doe.mass.edu/Educators/e_license.html?section=k12
Ensure that all teachers pass required subject-matter licensing tests before they enter the classroom.
Massachusetts's policy offering its waiver for one year minimizes the risks inherent in having teachers in classrooms who lack appropriate subject-matter knowledge; however, the state could strengthen its policy by requiring all teachers to meet subject-matter licensure requirements prior to entering the classroom.
Massachusetts recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
6B: Provisional and Emergency Licensure
Teachers who have not passed content licensing 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 minimum state standards.
While some flexibility may be necessary because licensing tests are not always administered with the needed frequency, making provisional certificates and waivers available year after year could signal that 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.