The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.
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.
Texas Administrative Code 230.502; 230.506; 230.507
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.
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.
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.
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).