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: Louisiana allows teachers with valid out-of-state certificates to be eligible for its Professional Level 1 certificate.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Louisiana does not require evidence of effective teaching during previous employment in its reciprocity policy. To get service credit for three or more years taught in another state, out-of-state teachers must receive a "successful evaluation as provided by board policy."
Testing Requirement: Louisiana grants waivers for its licensing tests to out-of-state teachers who have three years of experience and teach for one year in a Louisiana public or private school under the out-of-state certificate. A three-year nonrenewable certificate is issued to teachers who have not met the state's testing requirements.
Additional Requirements: Louisiana requires applicants to complete a teacher preparation program and meet the state's recency requirement of five years of experience immediately preceding application. Candidates who have not taught for five years may be issued a one-year certificate to complete six semester hours.
In addition, Louisiana requires out-of-state teachers to have completed student teaching, an internship, or have three years of teaching experience in the area of certification. Depending on the state's working definition of the term "student teaching," this policy is unlikely to offer much flexibility for teachers prepared in district-based alternate route programs.
Louisiana 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, Louisiana 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.)
To uphold standards, require that teachers coming from other states meet testing requirements.
Louisiana 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. This is especially important when it comes to out-of-state teachers who have passed content tests that do not rise to the level of Louisiana's standard, such as an elementary content test that requires a passing score on each content core subject. (See 2-A Elementary Content Knowledge analysis and recommendations.)
Offer a standard license to certified out-of-state teachers, absent unnecessary requirements.
Louisiana's recency requirement may deter talented teachers from applying for certification. Therefore, NCTQ encourages the state to shift its focus to effectiveness in the classroom and away from its generic requirement of recent teaching experience, regardless of whether that experience positively affected student achievement.
Accord the same license to out-of-state alternate route teachers that would be accorded to traditionally prepared teachers.
Regardless of whether a teacher was prepared through a traditional or alternate route, all certified out-of-state teachers in Louisiana should receive equal treatment. State policies that discriminate against teachers who were prepared in an alternate route are not supported by evidence. In fact, a substantial body of research has failed to discern differences in effectiveness between alternate and traditional route teachers.
Louisiana recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis, and was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for 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.