State Regulations on Out-of-Field and Uncertified Teachers

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Due to difficulties in staffing targeted subject areas, school administrators often find themselves forced to assign teachers to positions or subject areas for which they may not be certified. For example, a recent article in Education Week reported that California’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing found more than 11,000 out-of-field teachers of English-language learners from 2003 to 2007—more than 50 percent of the total out-of-field instructors reported statewide. In order to address this problem, some states have implemented policies to regulate the numbers of out-of-field and uncertified teachers in all K-12 schools. In Quality Counts 2008, the EPE Research Center found that 32 states had at least one policy in place to limit out-of-field teaching during the 2007-08 school year. Eleven states place limitations on the exceptions that might allow teachers to instruct out-of-field, at least on a temporary basis. Nine states require that out-of-field teachers earn an alternative certification or accreditation. Five states notify parents about out-of-field or uncertified teachers, while four states have a ban or cap on the number of out-of-field teachers permitted. Other measures, including a school and district accountability provisions or the imposition of financial penalties, have been enacted in seven states.

For more state-by-state data on teacher qualifications and other topics, search the EPE Research Center's Education Counts database.

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