Provisional and Emergency Licensure:
Mississippi

Hiring Policy

Goal

The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching. This goal was reorganized in 2021.

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2021). Provisional and Emergency Licensure: Mississippi results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MS-Provisional-and-Emergency-Licensure-94

Analysis of Mississippi's policies

Emergency License(s) Availability: Mississippi offers the following provisional licenses: special license—expert citizen; special license—nonrenewable for teacher preparation program completers; special license—nonrenewable for prospective non-traditional teacher preparation program completers;  special, nonrenewable license for adjunct teachers; and a one-year educator license for veteran teachers teaching out-of-field. These licenses are available at the request of the hiring district only. The requirements for each are as follows:

  • Special license—expert citizen: Districts may request this license to use "local business or other professional personnel to teach..." specialized or technical courses. Districts are required to provide a letter of justification and three letters of recommendation which "cite evidence of the applicant's expertise in the requested area of certification." Transcripts are also required to verify a degree.
  • Special license—nonrenewable for teacher preparation program completers: Candidates for this license will have completed all of the requirements of their traditional preparation programs except for licensure tests. They must have one of the following: a bachelor's degree in the endorsement area, 18 hours of coursework with a grade of "C" or higher in the endorsement area, or a bachelor's degree in any area and passage of the applicable subject area assessment. 
  • Special license—nonrenewable for prospective non-traditional teacher preparation program completers: Candidates for this license will not have completed an approved teacher preparation program. They must have one of the following for the issuance of the initial license: a bachelor's degree in the endorsement area, a non-education bachelor's degree in any area and 18 hours of acceptable coursework with a grade of "C" or higher in the endorsement area, or a non-education bachelor's degree in any area and passage of the applicable subject area assessment. 
  • Special, nonrenewable license for adjunct teachers: This license is available for districts to hire higher education personnel and other professionals "who possess the potential to earn full educator certification while temporarily addressing the ongoing teacher shortage." The applicant must have a master's degree in the content area and two years of relevant work experience. They must also hold a professional license in the applicable field or have passed a subject matter assessment in the area of the license. 
  • A one-year educator license for veteran teachers teaching out-of-field: This license is available to teachers with a current five-year standard license, and allows teachers to teach out-of-field in the applicable endorsement areas while working toward completing the requirements of the new endorsement area. In order to teach out of field, the candidate must submit a required plan of action to meet the requirements of the new endorsement area.
Emergency License Validity Period:
  • Special license—expert citizen: Valid for one year; can be renewed as long as the license holder "continues to meet the criteria and remains in good standing with regard to the Mississippi Educator Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct." 
  • Special license—nonrenewable for teacher preparation program completers: The license is valid for three years and is nonrenewable. However, in order for the candidate to teach for the entire validity period of the license, the employing district must show progress for years two and three that the license holder is "making sufficient progress toward the completion of requirements for obtaining full state certification." Year two and three documentation requirements include: official test score reports showing a candidate's attempt to achieve a qualifying passing score on required tests. Year two and three requirements also include evidence that the candidate has been provided high-quality professional development and "intensive supervision that consisted of structured guidance and regular ongoing support or teacher mentoring with a certified teacher during the preceding school year."
  • Special license—nonrenewable for prospective non-traditional teacher preparation program completers: The license is valid for three years and is nonrenewable. However, in order for the candidate to teach for the entire validity period of the license, year two and three requirements must be met. The employing district must show progress for years two and three that the license holder is "making sufficient progress toward the completion of requirements for obtaining full state certification." Year two and three documentation requirements include official test score reports showing a candidate's attempt to achieve a qualifying passing score on required tests; or unconditional acceptance to a non-traditional prep program; or an official sealed transcript showing required courses in progress or completed with a grade of "C" or higher. Year two and three requirements also include evidence that the candidate has been provided high-quality professional development and "intensive supervision that consisted of structured guidance and regular ongoing support or teacher mentoring with a certified teacher during the preceding school year."
  • Special, nonrenewable license for adjunct teachers: The license is valid for three years and is nonrenewable. However, in order for the candidate to teach for the entire validity period of the license, the adjunct teacher must receive successful ratings based on the state's evaluation system at the end of year one.
  • A one-year educator license for veteran teachers teaching out-of-field: This license is valid for one year and may be renewed twice. Districts must submit evidence that the candidate is making continued progress in meeting licensure requirements.
COVID-19 State Policy: Mississippi has implemented the following changes to its rules regarding Provisional and Emergency Licensure. The licenses described above expiring on June 30, 2020 will be extended for one year.  Districts employing teachers on these licenses must submit a request for the extensions. COVID-19 policies do not affect the state's grade in Provisional and Emergency Licensure.

Requirements for Out-of-State Teachers: Because licensure requirements for out-of-state teachers are scored in Requirements for Out-of-State Teachers, only the state's policies regarding emergency/provisional license(s) are considered as part of this goal.



Citation

Recommendations for Mississippi

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. Mississippi 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. Mississippi's current policy puts students at risk by allowing teachers to teach up to three years without passing required licensing tests.

State response to our analysis

Mississippi was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

Updated: March 2021

How we graded

6B: Provisional and Emergency Licensure 

  • Content knowledge: The state:
    • Should not, under any circumstance, award a license to a teacher who has not passed all required content licensing tests.
    • If it finds it necessary to confer emergency or provisional licenses to teachers who have not passed the required licensing tests, should do so only under limited and exceptional circumstances and ensure that all requirements are met within one year.
Content Knowledge
The total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Full credit: The state will earn full credit if all new teachers are required to pass each required content test as a condition of receiving provisional or emergency licensure, or the state does not issue emergency or provisional licenses. A state cannot get full credit in this goal if content tests are not required as part of its initial licensure policy.
  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if it grants emergency or provisional licenses to teachers who have not passed the required content tests, but such licenses are granted for no more than one year and are not renewable. OR The state will earn three-quarters of a point if it grants an emergency or provisional license to a licensed teacher to teach out-of-field for no more than one-year without passing the applicable content test.
  • One-half credit: The state will earn up to one-half of a point if it allows for emergency or provisional licenses to be granted for longer than one year, but the state has strong requirements for applicants (e.g., content area major or preparation program completion without requiring a content test). The state will also earn one-half of a point if the state does not issue emergency/provisional licenses, or issues emergency/provisional licenses with strong requirements, but content tests are not required as part of the state's overall initial licensure policy.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it maintains minimum requirements that fall short of the requirements listed above or only offers emergency or provisional licenses to teachers under "extenuating circumstances."

Research rationale

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.


[1] Research often finds a correlation between teachers' content knowledge and their effectiveness. For how this effect can play out in elementary ELA, see: Carlisle, J. F., Correnti, R., Phelps, G., & Zeng, J. (2009). Exploration of the contribution of teachers' knowledge about reading to their students' improvement in reading. Reading and Writing, 22(4), 457-486.; For how this effect can occur in secondary STEM subjects, see: Monk, D. (1994). Subject-area preparation of secondary mathematics and science teachers and student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 13(2), 125-145; For broader information about teacher qualities and student achievement, see: Goldhaber, D. D., & Brewer, D. J. (1997). Why don't schools and teachers seem to matter? Assessing the impact of unobservables on educational productivity. Journal of Human Research, 32(3), 505-523.; National Council on Teacher Quality. (2010). The all-purpose science teacher: An analysis of loopholes in state requirements for high school science teachers. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/p/publications/docs/NCTQ_All_Purpose_Science_Teacher.pdf.
[2] 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: Hanushek, E. A. (1992). The trade-off between child quantity and quality. Journal of Political Economy, 100(1), 84-117.; Hanushek has also found that highly effective teachers can improve future student earnings by more than $400,000, assuming a class size of 20. Hanushek, E. A. (2011). The economic value of higher teacher quality. Economics of Education Review, 30(3), 466-479. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w16606