Extended Emergency Licenses: North Carolina

Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy


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

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2013). Extended Emergency Licenses: North Carolina results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/NC-Extended-Emergency-Licenses-24

Analysis of North Carolina's policies

North Carolina does not require teachers to pass a subject-matter test until the end of the second year of teaching if the test is taken at least once during the first year of teaching.

The state does require that teachers receive passing scores on the Praxis II to obtain the standard professional 2 license, which a teacher may obtain usually after three years of teaching.

In addition, the state's Lateral Entry certificate, which is designed as an alternate route to teaching, does not require individuals to pass the Praxis II exam. Individuals may obtain this certificate with a relevant bachelor's degree and a 2.5 GPA. The certificate is valid for three years, during which time the teacher must complete coursework and pass required Praxis II tests. 


Recommendations for North Carolina

Award standard licenses to teachers only after they have passed all required subject-matter licensing tests.

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. 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. As such, North Carolina should require all teachers to pass subject-matter tests prior to entering the classroom. The state's current policy puts students at risk.

State response to our analysis

North Carolina noted that even prior to the adoption of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL), teacher candidates in elementary and special education programs were required to pass licensure tests as a requirement of initial licensure. The MTEL General Curriculum test will be required for initial licensure for elementary and special education program candidates.

North Carolina asserted that the state requires all licensure candidates to earn satisfactory scores on tests of pedagogy and content knowledge. For secondary education candidates, Praxis II exams in content and pedagogy fulfill this requirement.

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.