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.
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, though it only allows one-year, nonrenewable exception authorizations for teachers who have not met these requirements, still puts students at risk.
Wyoming recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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).