The state should help to make licenses fully portable among states for effective teachers, with appropriate safeguards. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.
Eligibility for Standard License: Iowa allows out-of-state teachers to apply for its standard license.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Iowa does not specifically require evidence of effective teaching during previous employment in its reciprocity policy. Teachers must have at least three years of "successful" teaching experience.
Testing Requirement: Iowa does not require teachers with three or more years of experience to meet its testing requirements.
Additional Requirements: Iowa requires all candidates to submit transcripts; however, Iowa explicitly analyzes those submitted by alternate route teachers "for the requirements necessary for full Iowa licensure." Alternate route teachers must also meet the recency requirement of 160 days of teaching experience within the last five years or six semester hours of credit within five years. Iowa also requires a criminal-history background check.
Require evidence of effective teaching when determining eligibility for full certification.
To facilitate the movement of effective teachers between states, Iowa 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 determinative factor of a teacher evaluation. (See 7-A Student Growth analysis and recommendations.) Although Iowa requires proof of "successful" evaluations, the policy falls short of ensuring that evidence of effectiveness will be reflected in these evaluation scores.
To uphold standards, require that teachers coming from other states meet testing requirements.
Iowa should insist that out-of-state teachers meet its own testing requirements, and it should not waive its teacher testing requirements unless an applicant can provide evidence of a passing score that meets its own standards. By continuing to allow testing waivers, Iowa cannot ensure that teachers who have passed assessments in other states have met comparable content-knowledge expectations.
Offer a standard license to certified out-of-state teachers, absent unnecessary requirements.
Transcript reviews are not a particularly meaningful or efficient exercise, and Iowa should consider discontinuing its requirement for the submission of transcripts for all teachers. States that reach a determination about an applicant's licensure status on the basis of the course titles listed on the applicant's transcript may end up mistakenly equating the amount of required coursework with the teacher's qualifications. Further, transcript analysis is likely to result in additional coursework requirements, even for traditionally prepared teachers; alternate route teachers, on the other hand, may have to virtually begin anew, repeating some, most or all of a teacher preparation program in Iowa.
Iowa should also reconsider its recency requirement as a means to judge licensure eligibility. Recent coursework or experience is unlikely to positively affect a teacher's effectiveness, and such a requirement may deter effective teachers from applying for licensure in the state.
Iowa was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis. The state added that out-of-state teachers are also required to meet a C- or better grade requirement for all courses that will be considered for licensure. In addition, National Board Certified teachers who meet all other qualifications are not required to complete Iowa testing or undergo transcript analysis for coursework deficiencies.
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.