Licensure Loopholes: Nebraska

2011 Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Licensure Loopholes: Nebraska results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/NE-Licensure-Loopholes-10

Analysis of Nebraska's policies

Nebraska does not require subject-matter testing as part of its teacher certification policy. 

Citation

Recommendations for Nebraska

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, 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 by not requiring such a test, Nebraska is abandoning one of the basic responsibilities of licensure. As such, the state 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

Nebraska recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it "takes the licensing of teachers very seriously and, although we do not meet your criteria, we do not accept that we are "abandoning" the responsibility of providing effective teachers for Nebraska students. One can find a range of research, including that which supports that there is no substantive research that proves that passing a content test will assure that a teacher will excel as a teacher and produce better student achievement outcomes."

Last word

NCTQ agrees that passing a content test provides no assurance that a teacher will excel and produce better student achievement outcomes. But one cannot teach what one does not know, and it is therefore virtually a certainty that teachers lacking in sufficient and appropriate content knowledge will not excel nor produce better student achievement outcomes.  

How we graded

Teachers who have not passed licensing tests may 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.

Research rationale

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 100 No. 1 (1992): 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 (2010).