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 nonrenewable Restricted Transitional Teaching License, which is valid for three years and is issued one year at a time. Eligibility requirements include a bachelor's degree and a letter from the employing district describing a particular need for the applicant's teacher qualification. Upon expiration of the certificate, applicants are expected to meet the requirements of an initial license.
In addition, the state makes available an Emergency Teaching License when there are extenuating circumstances that prevent a teacher from completing the initial licensure requirements within the three years allotted by the Restricted Transitional Teaching License. Emergency Teaching Licenses offer extensions for up to one year and may be issued upon joint application from a teacher and the employing district.
Oregon Administrative Rules 584-060-0162
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 three—and sometimes four—years without passing required licensing tests.
Oregon was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. In addition, the state noted that it allows the Restricted Transitional Teaching License (RTTL) for one year at a time in order to monitor completion of licensure requirements. Oregon added that it rarely grants one-year extensions to any license using the Emergency Teaching License. These licenses are issued primarily for 30 to 120 days, unless there are extreme extenuating circumstances (death in family, etc.), which may merit a one-year extension. Currently there are only 26 active Emergency Teaching Licenses, and they cover all emergencies demonstrated by a district.
Finally, Oregon acknowledged that the requirement for the RTTL to pass the subject-matter test prior to licensure merits consideration by the state.
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).