Provisional and Emergency Licensure: Nevada

Hiring Policy


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.

Nearly meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017). Provisional and Emergency Licensure: Nevada results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Nevada's policies

Emergency License(s) Availability: Nevada does not permit provisional licenses to be issued to teachers who apply for the following certificates: elementary license; special teaching license in music, art or special education; or secondary license in art, biological science, chemistry, English, French, general science, history, mathematics, music, physical science, reading, social studies, Spanish, speech and drama.

However, if a local district determines there is a shortage area, they can submit a request to the superintendent of public instruction to hire licensed teachers to teach in the shortage area. The request allows licensed teachers to teach outside of their endorsement areas to fill the shortage area for up to three years. 


Recommendations for Nevada

Ensure that all teachers—including teachers filling shortage areas—meet subject-matter licensing standards.
Allowing licensed teachers who have not passed licensure tests in the shortage area in which they are teaching to remain in the classroom for up to three years neglects the needs of students. Having fully licensed teachers teach in shortage areas only minimizes the risks inherent in having teachers in classrooms who lack appropriate subject-matter knowledge. Nevada could strengthen its policy by requiring all teachers to meet the subject-matter test requirements of the shortage area within one year, or limit the ability of a teacher to teach out-of-field to one year.

State response to our analysis

Nevada was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts necessary for this analysis.  The state also indicated that new legislation allows out-of-state teachers "...who obtain a reciprocal license pursuant to NRS 391.032 are not required to take the examinations for the initial licensing of teachers and other educational personnel . . . or any other examination for initial licensing required by the regulations adopted by the Commission." Therefore, Nevada stated, those transferring from other states with current, valid licenses earned via traditional or alternate route preparation programs are no longer required to demonstrate coursework completion via transcript analysis or pass the basic competency exams in reading, writing, and mathematics; principles and methods of teaching; or subject matter endorsement, which results in true reciprocity.

In addition, the state noted that new legislation allows for districts to submit a request to the Superintendent (with a subsequent report to the Commission and State Board) that they may employ teachers in shortage areas for up to three years. However, in accordance with Nevada's federal ESSA Plan and Educator Equity Report, these teachers will be publicly reported in the aggregate by district and school via the Personnel tab of the annual Nevada Report Card as not-fully-state-certified.

Updated: December 2017

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 emergency or provisional licensure.
  • 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.
  • 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 may also be eligible for one-half of a point if it offers emergency or provisional licenses to teachers under "extenuating circumstances." 
  • 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.

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
[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