The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.
Oregon allows new teachers who have not met licensure requirements to teach under the Restricted Transitional Teaching License, which is valid for one year and may be renewed twice. Eligibility requirements include a bachelor's degree and a letter from the employing district describing a particular need for the applicant's teacher qualifications. Upon expiration of the certificate, applicants are expected to meet the requirements of an initial license.
New rules regarding the state's Emergency Teaching License, allow this license to be granted ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œat the discretion of the Executive Director, or the Director of Licensure, for any length of time deemed necessary to protect the district's programs or students." This license can be renewed, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œat the discretion of the Executive Director after considering all extenuating circumstances."
Ensure that all teachers pass required subject-matter licensing tests before they enter the classroom.
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. Oregon should ensure that all teachers pass licensing tests—an important minimum benchmark for entering the profession—before entering the classroom.
Limit exceptions to one year.
There might be limited and exceptional circumstances under which conditional or emergency licenses need to be granted. In these instances, it is reasonable for a state to give teachers up to one year to pass required licensing tests. Oregon's current policy puts students at risk by allowing teachers to teach on a Restricted License for up to two years without passing required licensing tests.
Oregon stated that the description of an entry alternative route license as a limitation under “exiting ineffective teachers” seems misplaced. Oregon noted that the district monitors effectiveness for persons holding Restricted Teaching Licenses, and the three years is to allow time to complete full teacher preparation. Furthermore, the state asserted, there is no data that correlates passage of the subject-matter test to effectiveness. According to the state, the commission has not relaxed its requirements for passage of the subject-matter tests (if they exist) for all newly nonprovisional licensed teachers.
The concern here, and the reason this goal is included in the area on “exiting ineffective teachers,” is that teachers who do not know their subject matter should not be able to stay in the classroom. While there is much that alternate route teachers are still learning while already the teacher of record, they should come to the classroom already knowing their content. Allowing any teacher, whether traditionally or alternatively certified, to teach for three years without verifying subject-matter knowledge puts students at risk.
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.