The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.
South Dakota allows new teachers who have not met preparation standards and have not passed required licensing tests to teach on a one-year certificate. The certificate can be renewed once, but it is unclear as to whether Praxis II scores are required for renewal.
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. South Dakota 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. In South Dakota, it is unclear as to whether Praxis II scores are required for the one-year license's renewal. The state should specify whether teachers are required to pass subject-matter tests in order to teach a second year on a one-year license.
South Dakota noted that individuals have two years to complete the required Praxis II tests.
South Dakota is encouraged to limit the time-frame it allows for teachers to pass the required Praxis II tests to one year so as not to compromise the instructional needs of students in favor of accommodating adults who might be unable to meet minimum standards.
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).