Licensure Loopholes: Utah

Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy


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

Nearly meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Licensure Loopholes: Utah results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Utah's policies

As of January 1, 2011, Utah requires all licensure candidates to submit passing scores on designated content tests to be eligible for initial licensure.

However, the state also allows alternate route teachers to teach on a temporary license for up to three years while they fulfill licensure requirements, including passing subject-matter tests.


Recommendations for Utah

Ensure that all teachers pass required subject-matter licensing tests before they enter the classroom.
Utah is commended for requiring that all licensure candidates pass designated content tests for initial licensure. However, the state continues to permit teachers on Alternate Route Licenses to teach in classrooms for three years before passing required subject-matter tests. While the state may find it appropriate to delay pedagogy assessments for these teachers, alternate route teachers—like all teachers—should have sufficient and appropriate content knowledge when they begin teaching. Utah could take its policy a step further and require all teachers to meet subject-matter licensure requirements prior to entering the classroom.

State response to our analysis

Utah asserted that ARL candidates are required to pass their content assessments during their first year of ARL participation. The state said that passage of this assessment is required "to proceed from temporary license status" (R277-503-4(B)(1)).  Utah added that this references an ARL candidate spending the first year in ARL on a Letter of Authorization and then moving to an ARL license (R277-503-4(B)(5)). An ARL candidate that does not pass their content assessment is therefore not eligible to participate in ARL during year two or three.       

Last word

NCTQ commends Utah for the progress it has made on this goal. Regarding the ARL license, it appears that the state's intent is to have a strong policy in place that requires candidates to pass content tests before being awarded an ARL license. However, the state might want to consider clarifying its language to reflect that intent, as it currently seems possible that candidates are only required to submit a score on the test, not necessarily a passing score.

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).