Licensure Loopholes: Texas

2011 Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy


The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Licensure Loopholes: Texas results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Texas's policies

Texas allows new teachers who have satisfied all requirements for the initial teacher certification, except the examination requirements, to teach under a nonrenewable permit for no more than one year.

The state also allows teachers who have not met licensure requirements to teach under an emergency permit for up to three years.


Recommendations for Texas

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. Texas 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. Texas's current policy puts students at risk by allowing teachers to teach on an emergency permit for up to three years without passing required subject-matter licensing tests. 

State response to our analysis

Texas asserted that teachers on temporary permits may teach up to two years, and teachers on emergency permits may teach up to three years. In addition, the state pointed out that teachers on probationary certificates while they are in training to become certified teachers may teach up to three years.  

Texas added that all candidates in educator preparation programs must pass the required licensure tests to receive a "standard certificate." Candidates in alternative programs must pass a licensure test or have 24 coursework hours in the content area prior to receiving a one-year probationary certificate.

Last word

By allowing teachers on any permits or certificates to teach without passing required state licensing tests, Texas puts the instructional needs of students at risk in favor of accommodating adults who may be unable to meet minimum standards. Further, Texas's licensure loopholes are particularly worrisome, as the state has strong subject-matter requirements for elementary teachers that are potentially sabotaged by the fact that teachers who have not passed licensure tests are allowed to be in the classroom for up to three years.

How we graded

Teachers who have not passed licensing tests may 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.

Research rationale

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).