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: Maine offers a conditional certificate to teachers who have not met certain requirements, including passing state licensing tests. The state also offers a special Targeted Needs Certificate. 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.
Emergency License Validity Period: Maine's conditional certificate is valid for one year. 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 Targeted Needs Certificate is valid for one year and may also be renewed twice for 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.
Rule Chapter for the Department of Education, 05-071 Chapter 115 Part I, Sections 5.4 and 5.5
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, because it enables adults who may not be able to meet minimal state standards to earn teaching licenses. Maine should ensure that all teachers are required to pass licensing tests — an important minimum benchmark for entering the profession —before entering the classroom as the teacher of record.
Limit exceptions to one year.
Although suboptimal, there may be limited and exceptional circumstances under which conditional or emergency licenses are necessary. In these instances, it is reasonable for a state to give teachers up to one year to pass required licensing tests. However, Maine's current policy puts students at risk by allowing the issuance of conditional certificates that are valid for one year but can be renewed for a second year before teachers are required to pass required licensing tests.
Maine indicated that Chapter 180 addresses professional educator effectiveness, and that local control allows for individual districts to make changes.
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.