The state should maintain requirements that make teaching licenses held by effective teachers fully portable across state lines, with appropriate safeguards. This goal has been revised since 2017.
Eligibility for Standard License: Georgia allows teachers with current, comparable out-of-state certificates to be eligible for its professional certificate.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Georgia requires candidates to have at least three years of "successful" teaching experience within five years of the date of application. A "successful" experience is defined as having received satisfactory ratings on annual performance evaluations.
Testing Requirement: Georgia grants waivers for its content-knowledge tests to any out-of-state teacher who has a professional certificate and has worked full time for the last five years in the same field of certification, or was required to pass a content assessment for the out-of-state certificate.
Additional Requirements: Georgia requires additional coursework in special education, which may be waived for out-of-state teachers who took comparable coursework at an education preparation program in another state or who have a professional certificate and have worked full time for the last five years in the same field of certification.
Background Checks: Georgia requires a full criminal-history background check.
Require evidence of effective teaching when determining eligibility for full certification.
To facilitate the movement of effective teachers between states, Georgia should require that evidence of teacher effectiveness, as determined by an evaluation that includes objective measures of student growth, be considered for all out-of-state candidates. Such evidence should indeed be a factor for candidates who come from states that make student growth a factor of a teacher evaluation. (See 7-A Student Growth analysis and recommendations.) Although Georgia requires proof of satisfactory evaluations, the policy falls short of ensuring that evidence of effectiveness will be reflected in these evaluation scores.
To uphold standards, require that teachers transferring from other states meet testing requirements.
Georgia should insist that out-of-state teachers meet its own testing requirements or provide evidence of a passing score on an applicable content test from the originating state. This ensures that out-of-state teachers have demonstrated the content knowledge necessary for the license they seek, instead of relying on a generic requirement like recent teaching experience.
Offer a standard license to certified out-of-state teachers, absent unnecessary requirements.
While Georgia's special education requirement is reasonable, the state should insert flexibility into its policy by allowing a test-out option.
Georgia indicated that if the commission adopts the currently initiated rules, rules changes will ease the process for those applying for initial Georgia certification based on reciprocity. Proposed changes include:
1. Georgia will grant waivers for its content-knowledge tests to any out-of-state teacher who has a professional certificate and has five years of successful full-time experience in the same field of certification earned throughout their career, or was required to pass a content assessment for the out-of-state certificate.
2. Georgia will require additional coursework in special education, which may be waived for out-of-state teachers who took comparable coursework at an education preparation program in another state or who have a professional certificate and have five years of successful full-time experience in the same field of certification earned throughout their career.
6A: Requirements for Out-of-State Teachers
Evidence of effectiveness is far more important than transcript review. In an attempt to ensure that teachers have the appropriate professional and subject-matter knowledge base when granting certification, states often review a teacher's college transcript, no matter how many years earlier a bachelor's degree was earned. A state certification specialist reviews the college transcript, looking for course titles that appear to match state requirements. If the right matches are not found, a teacher may be required to complete additional coursework before receiving standard licensure. This practice holds true even for experienced teachers who are trying to transfer from another state, regardless of their prior success. The application of these often complex state rules results in unnecessary obstacles to hiring talented and experienced teachers. Evaluation systems which prioritize effectiveness and evidence of student learning offer an opportunity to bypass counterproductive efforts like transcript review and get to the heart of the matter: is the out-of-state teacher seeking licensure in a new state an effective teacher?
Testing requirements should be upheld, not waived. While some states have historically imposed burdensome coursework requirements, many have simultaneously failed to impose minimum standards for licensure testing. Instead, some states have offered waivers to veteran teachers transferring from other states, thereby failing to impose minimal standards of professional and subject-matter knowledge. In upholding licensure standards for out-of-state teachers, the state should be flexible in its processes but vigilant in its verification of adequate knowledge. It is all too common for states to develop policies and practices that reverse these priorities, focusing diligently on comparison of transcripts to state documents while demonstrating little oversight of teachers' knowledge. If a state can verify that a teacher has taught successfully and has the required subject-matter and professional knowledge, its only concern should be ensuring that the teacher is familiar with the state's student learning standards.
States licensing out-of-state teachers should not differentiate between experienced teachers prepared in alternate routes and those prepared in traditional programs. It is understandable that states are wary of accepting alternate route teachers from other states, since programs vary widely in quality. However, the same variance in quality can be found in traditional programs. If a teacher comes from another state with a standard license and a clean criminal record, has demonstrated evidence of effectiveness, and can pass the state's licensure tests, whether the preparation was traditional or alternative should be irrelevant.