Licensure Reciprocity: Idaho

Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy


The state should help to make licenses fully portable among states for effective teachers, with appropriate safeguards.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Licensure Reciprocity: Idaho results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Idaho's policies

Out-of-state teachers with at least three years of experience may apply for Idaho's interim professional certificate. To qualify for the professional license, teachers must now meet measurable student achievement criteria while teaching at least one year in Idaho. According to the state's new rules, "teachers may provide evidence based on experience outside of the state of Idaho if proficiency and measurable student achievement is comparable to Idaho requirements."  Measurable student achievement must include at least one assessment demonstrating student achievement and growth. 

Idaho allows a testing waiver for candidates who submit passing scores from other states. The state also gives a three-year emergency license to out-of-state teachers if they haven't passed licensure tests.

Further, teachers must complete the state's mathematics instruction and comprehensive literacy courses, and they are reviewed for technology deficiencies and may be required to take technology courses to improve their skills. 

Idaho is a participant in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement, which outlines which other states' certificates will be accepted by the receiving state. This agreement is not a collection of two-way reciprocal acceptances, nor is it a guarantee that all certificates will be accepted by the receiving state, and it is therefore not included in this analysis.


Recommendations for Idaho

To uphold standards, require that out-of-state teachers without proof of effectiveness meet testing requirements.
Although it is reasonable to allow out-of-state teachers with proven records of effectiveness to earn Idaho certification without meeting the state's testing requirements, Idaho should strengthen its policy and insist that those without proof of effectiveness meet its requirements. This is especially important when it comes to out-of-state teachers from states without an evaluation system comparable to Idaho's and who have passed content tests that do not rise to the level of Idaho's standard, such as an elementary content test that requires a passing score on each content core subject (see "Elementary Teacher Preparation" analysis and recommendations). Further, allowing out-of-state teachers who have not passed licensure tests to remain in the classroom for up to three years neglects the needs of students. Idaho is urged to limit its emergency license for out-of-state teachers to just one year. 

Offer a standard license to certified out-of-state teachers, absent unnecessary requirements. 
While Idaho's literacy requirement is reasonable, the state should take steps to ensure that the coursework focuses on the science of reading instruction (see "Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction" analysis and recommendations) and that it inserts flexibility into its policy by allowing a test-out option. Idaho should also consider a test-out option for any additional coursework requirement in math and technology.

Ensure that measurement of student achievement is meaningful.
Idaho is on the right track in requiring out-of-state teachers to meet measurable student achievement criteria while teaching at least one year in the state. However, Idaho is encouraged to strengthen its policy and lengthen that collection period to ensure that these data are meaningful. 

State response to our analysis

Idaho recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Research rationale

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 experience or success level. The application of these often complex state rules results in unnecessary obstacles to hiring talented and experienced teachers. Little evidence indicates that reviewing a person's undergraduate coursework improves the quality of the teaching force or ensures that teachers have adequate knowledge.

New evaluation systems coming on line across the country 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 many states impose burdensome coursework requirements, they often fail to impose minimum standards on licensure tests. Instead, they offer 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. Too many states have 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 wide variety in quality can be found in traditional programs. If a teacher comes from another state with a standard license and can pass the state's licensure tests, whether the preparation was traditional or alternative should be irrelevant.

Licensure Reciprocity: Supporting Research
Many professions have gone further than teaching in encouraging interstate mobility. The requirements for attorneys, for example, are complicated, but often offer certain kinds of flexibility, such as allowing them to answer a small set of additional questions. See the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admissions Requirements 2014, published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and the American Bar Association, available at

On the similarity in effectiveness between graduates of traditional and alternative programs, see J. Constantine, D. Player, T. Silva, K. Hallgren, M. Grider, J. Deke, and E. Warner, An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification, Final Report. February 2009, U.S. Department of Education, NCEE 2009-4043. D. Boyd, P. Grossman, H. Lankford, S. Loeb, and J. Wyckoff, "How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement." NBER Working Paper No. 11844, December 2005. T. Kane, J. Rockoff, and D. Staiger. "What Does Certification Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness? Evidence from New York City." NBER Working Paper No.12155, April 2006. G. Henry, C. Thompson, K. Bastian, C. Fortner, D. Kershaw, K. Purtell, R. Zulli, A. Mabe, and A. Chapman, "Impacts of Teacher Preparation on Student Test Scores in North Carolina: Teacher Portals". The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina Institute for Public Policy, 2010, 34p. Z. Xu, J. Hannaway, and C. Taylor, "Making a Difference?  The Effects of Teach for America in High School." The Urban Institute/Calder, Working Paper 17, April 2007.D. Boyd, P. Grossman, K. Hammerness. H. Lankford, S. Loeb, M. Ronfeldt, and J. Wyckoff, "Recruiting Effective Math Teachers: How Do Math Immersion Teachers Compare?: Evidence from New York City." NBER Working Paper No.16017, May 2010; as well as "How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement," by D. Boyd, P. Grossman, H. Lankford, S. Loeb, and J. Wyckoff, NBER Working Paper No.11844, December 2005; and "The Effects of Teach For America on Students: Findings from a National Evaluation," by P. Decker, D. Mayer, and S. Glazerman, Mathematica Policy Research Inc., 2004.