Extended Emergency Licenses: Michigan

Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy


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

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Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Extended Emergency Licenses: Michigan results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MI-Extended-Emergency-Licenses-73

Analysis of Michigan's policies

Michigan allows full-year permits to be issued when a certified teacher is unavailable for a particular assignment. When a permit is requested for a core academic subject, the candidate must either have an academic major in the subject or pass a subject-area test. Permits are renewable for a maximum of four years. Renewal requires six semester hours of additional credit toward certification if a certified teacher remains unavailable. Candidates with a major must also pass the subject-area test within three years.

In addition, out-of-state certified teachers can be issued Temporary Teacher Employment Authorizations, valid for one year and nonrenewable, allowing teachers one year to meet Michigan testing requirements.

Michigan also issues permits in emergency situations, allowing candidates to teach if they hold at least a bachelor's or higher degree in the area to be taught if an otherwise qualified candidate is unavailable. The permit is only issued when "the lack of a teacher will deprive children of an education." These permits are renewable, provided the emergency situation continues and the candidate is enrolled in a teacher preparation program, has completed at least six credit hours toward certification and is assigned a mentor. 


Recommendations for Michigan

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. Even though Michigan requires at least some demonstration of subject-matter knowledge for its provisional permits, the state should ensure that all teachers pass all required licensure tests—an important minimum benchmark for entering the profession—before they enter 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. Michigan's current policy puts students at risk by allowing teachers to teach on special permits for at least three years without passing required licensing tests.

State response to our analysis

Michigan recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. 

Research rationale

Teachers who have not passed licensing subject-matter 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 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.

Extended Emergency Licenses: Supporting Research
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, Volume 100, No. 1, February 1992, pp. 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, December 2010.