The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.
Maine offers a one-year, conditional certificate to teachers who have not met certain requirements, including passing state licensing tests. This certificate can be renewed twice, and a passing score on all obligatory tests is required only during the third and final review period.
The state also offers a special Targeted Needs Certificate, a one-year credential that may also be renewed twice, to individuals who are teaching in a designated shortage area. Holders of this certificate must pass all required assessments prior to the issuance of the third certificate, meaning that individuals teaching under this certificate may teach for two full years without passing all required tests.
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. Maine should ensure that all teachers pass licensing tests— an important minimum benchmark for entering the profession—before 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 licensing tests. Maine's current policy puts students at risk by allowing for the issuance of conditional certificates that are valid for one year but that can be renewed for a second year before teachers are required to pass required licensing tests.
Maine recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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).