The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.
Ohio allows teachers who have not met standard licensure requirements for a particular endorsement area to teach in that area under a supplemental license. The license must be requested by the employing superintendent and is only issued to those who hold a currently valid Ohio standard certificate "to teach in a supplemental area while they are in the process of obtaining standard licensure for that area." The certificate is valid for one year, and although it is renewable twice, successful completion of the Praxis II content knowledge test for the particular licensure area is required for the first renewal.
Ensure that all teachers pass required subject-matter licensing tests before they enter the classroom.
While Ohio's policy offering its supplemental license for one year only before requiring successful completion of the Praxis II does minimize the risks of having teachers in classrooms who lack sufficient or appropriate subject-matter knowledge, the state could take its policy a step further and require all teachers to meet subject-matter license requirements prior to entering the classroom.
Ohio recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that through state initiatives and programs such as the TeachOhio program, the state is working with Educational Service Centers (ESCs) and districts/schools to assist teachers holding supplemental licenses to move as quickly as possible to full licensure; the TeachOhio program includes specific and targeted support for teachers who need to successfully complete a licensure test.
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.