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: North Dakota allows new teachers who have not met licensure requirements to teach under the Alternative Access License, which is issued in areas where there is a documented shortage of regularly licensed teachers. The applicant must have a bachelor's degree in the content area to be assigned, and renewal depends on supply and demand of certificated teachers available for these positions.
Emergency License Validity Period: North Dakota's Alternate Access License can be renewed annually, up to three times, but the "license will be issued only once to complete all testing requirements for regular licensure."
North Dakota Administrative Code 67.1-02-04-01
Award standard licenses to teachers only after they have passed a subject-matter test.
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. Licensing tests are an important minimum benchmark in the profession, and by not requiring such a test, North Dakota is abandoning one of the basic responsibilities of licensure. As such, in order to avoid putting students at risk, the state should require all teachers to pass subject-matter tests prior to entering the classroom as the teacher of record.
North Dakota recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also added, that the Alternate Access License (One-Year) license is issued in a documented shortage area. This license is for those who do not have a teaching degree but do have a bachelor's degree in a content area where the vacancy exists in the school. It is expected that the applicant will work with a university to complete their education coursework over the next 3 years (if needed). The license must be requested in writing by the local school administrator indicating the unsuccessful search for a qualified applicant and the desire for this license to be issued. Requirements include the completed online application, a bachelor's degree in the content area to be taught (official transcripts), and a plan of study from the college of education where the applicant will complete 1/3 of the program of study each year toward the teaching degree. This license can be issued a year at a time for a maximum of 3 years.
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.