Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Licensure Exceptions and AQT

Memo Information

Memo Number
Memo Date
Memo Type
Educator Effectiveness & Licensure
Regulatory Authority
Response Required
Federal Programs; Superintendents; Principals; Technology Coordinator; Test Coordinator; General Business Manager; Teachers

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Memo Text

Licensure Exceptions

In light of current waivers that are available for teachers to teach classes without being fully licensed in the area or level of the class being taught, “Licensure Exceptions” will be addressed in both policy and in reporting.

For reporting purposes, school districts will document all licensure exceptions in eSchool using the new “Licensure Exception” field.  This field will default to “NA” and is only used when a teacher is assigned to a grade level or course for which he or she is not licensed to teach.  The licensure exception drop-down menu lists the ‘exceptions’ for which schools can receive an approved waiver from licensure.  The attached presentation details the correct markings on the licensure exception field.  Schools must ensure applicable teachers meet AQT where the requirement for an educator license is waived.  

AQT Rule Explanation

The State Board of Education and the Arkansas Legislative Council have approved the Final Rules Governing Arkansas Qualified Teacher (AQT) requirements.  The rules became effective in August of 2016.  These rules replace the rules for highly qualified teachers.  The rules can be found here:

The purpose of these rules is to ensure teacher quality as the state transitions to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  These rules will help the Arkansas public education system transition from NCLB to ESSA and may ultimately be modified as the state’s ESSA plan is developed and approved by the U.S. Department of Education.  Highlights of these rules include:

  1. The AQT rules do not apply to every teacher, but only apply in the limited circumstances outlined in the rules.
  2. In these limited circumstances, the AQT rules only apply for classes in a Core Academic Subject Area:
    • For which licensure is required but where the license requirements have been legally waived
      • Act 1240 of 2015 Approval to Waive Licensure
      • Charter School Approval to Waive Licensure
      • School of Innovation Approved Waiver of Licensure, or
    • In Special Education (must be licensed and AQT in assigned areas, if applicable) or
    • In Alternative Learning Environment (must be AQT in applicable assigned areas)
  3. Core Academic Subject Areas are: English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Early Childhood (Elementary), Music, Art, and Foreign Language.
  4. The AQT rules are NOT licensure rules and do not replace licensure rules.
  5. The AQT rules provide more flexible options for demonstrating content knowledge than previously existed under HQT.   A teacher who was HQT under previous rules automatically meets AQT under the new rules for the applicable areas. 
  6. For AQT, the following options allow the candidate to demonstrate subject area content knowledge:  (the following is a summary – see the rules for exact requirements):
  • If the teacher (who was not previously HQT) holds a bachelor’s or advanced degree and meets one of the following:
    • The degree is in the content area;
    • The educator has a minimum of 18 college credit hours in the content area;
    • The educator has passed a content knowledge assessment in the content area (see below for special education and ALE);
    • The educator is National Board Certified in the content area;
    • The educator has documented successful, relevant work experience (defined in the rules) in the content area.
  • For special education, the teacher must hold an Arkansas special education teaching license for the appropriate grade level and:
    1. Meet one of the above requirements,or
    2. Demonstrate content knowledge using the ARHOUSSE matrix,or
    3. Have a passing score on the Praxis ® Fundamental Subjects: Content Knowledge Exam (5511)
  • For educators teaching in alternative learning environments, the teacher must hold an Arkansas educator license (unless licensure has been waived) and:
    1. Meet one of the above requirements, or
    2. Demonstrate content knowledge using the ARHOUSSE matrix, or
    3. Have a passing score on the Praxis ® Fundamental Subjects: Content Knowledge Exam (5511)
  • The State Board of Education approved the use of the Fundamental Subjects assessment for ALE educators and K-12 licensed special education teachers as a means of demonstrating content knowledge in single or multiple core subject areas.  At this time, the assessment is not for licensure endorsements or certifications but only for AQT.

Schools are not required to submit additional AQT documentation, obtain Department approval for specific AQT situations, or submit plans for teachers meeting AQT.  However, records and documentation evidencing AQT should be maintained by the district for standards reviews.  The appropriate documentation will reflect the manner in which an applicable teacher meets AQT.

 For questions related to the documentation of licensure exceptions or AQT, please contact Cheryl Reinhart:











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