The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.
Wyoming allows new teachers who have not met licensure requirements to teach under an "exception authorization." This authorization is issued in emergency situations to individuals who, due to extenuating circumstances, cannot meet the requirements for full licensure. It is only valid for one year and allows the individual to teach while completing the requirements. However, the state requires that only elementary education and social studies composite teachers pass a subject-matter test before obtaining an initial license.
Wyoming Professional Teacher Standards Board Exception Authorization http://ptsb.state.wy.us/Licensure/TypesofLicensure/ExceptionAuthorization/tabid/90/Default.aspx Complete Requirements for Initial Licensure in Wyoming http://ptsb.state.wy.us/Licesnure/BecomingLicensed/CompleteRequirementsforInitialLicensure/tabid/170/Default.aspx
Award standard licenses to teachers only after they have passed all required subject-matter licensing tests.
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. 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. As such, Wyoming's current policy should require all teachers—not just elementary and social studies teacher candidates—to pass subject-matter tests prior to entering the classroom. The state's current policy, although it only allows one-year, nonrenewable exception authorizations for teachers who have not met these requirements, still puts students at risk.
Wyoming had no comment on this goal.
Teachers who have not passed licensing subject-matter tests 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.
Extended Emergency Licenses: Supporting Research
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, Volume 100, No. 1, February 1992, pp. 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, December 2010.