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: 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 "valid out-of-state" 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. Alternate route teachers must also verify that the alternate route program was for secondary education, have a GPA of 2.50 on a 4.0 scale, and complete a student teaching or internship or have three years of teaching experience.
Background Checks: Regrettably, Iowa no longer requires a full criminal-history background check, complete with a fingerprinting requirement. Therefore, the state cannot ensure that teachers granted certification through reciprocity possess an updated clean record.
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. Although Iowa requires proof of "successful" evaluations, the policy falls short of ensuring that evidence of effectiveness will be reflected in these evaluation scores.
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.
To uphold standards, require that teachers transferring from other states meet testing requirements.
Iowa 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.
Require a criminal-history background check.
As a condition of licensure, Iowa should ensure that all out-of-state candidates pass a complete criminal-history background check. Because of differences in state statutes regarding the scope of teacher criminal background checks, a clear criminal background check from another state would not necessarily indicate that a teacher would pass Iowa's criminal background check.
Iowa recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.