Evidence from the First Cohort of Emergency License Holders in Massachusetts

Authors: Andrew Bacher-Hicks, Sidrah Baloch, Olivia Chi, Ariel Tichnor-Wagner

Project Summary

In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, amid fears of a sudden disruption to the supply of new teachers, Massachusetts put an emergency teaching license into effect. The policy allowed districts to employ teachers who had not yet completed the traditional requirements for obtaining licensure. This report summarizes key learnings from the first cohort of individuals to participate in this new, temporary pathway into teaching, providing insight into how licensure requirements—and changes to those requirements—influence the composition of the teacher labor market and workforce.

Key Findings

  • The emergency license appears to have served as a stop-gap in a pandemic-induced teacher shortage.
  • The emergency license appears to be diversifying the teaching workforce at greater rates than traditional licenses.
  • Emergency-licensed teachers are staying in the workforce at rates similar to other newly licensed teachers and most hope to remain in the profession.

Future Work

As described above, this research provides a first look at the impact of the emergency license policy in Massachusetts. The initial findings suggest that the emergency license was likely an important policy intervention in the context of the pandemic – ensuring continual access to the profession for the pipeline of individuals interested in becoming teachers. In addition to stemming an anticipated teacher shortage, the emergency license also appears to have had some additional benefits aligned with state and district priorities; namely, the increased racial/ethnic diversity of the workforce.

Through additional extensions of the emergency license, we will be able to understand even more about its use and impact on the composition of the workforce in the years ahead. Future work will include updating the analyses shared within this report to include additional cohorts of ELHs as well as effectiveness outcomes, such as educator evaluation and student growth.


Project Resources

Policy Report