Licensure Reciprocity: Maryland

2011 Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Licensure Reciprocity: Maryland results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MD-Licensure-Reciprocity-7

Analysis of Maryland's policies

Maryland does not support licensure reciprocity for certified teachers from other states.

Regrettably, Maryland grants a waiver of its licensing tests to any out-of-state teacher who has completed a state-approved program and has at least two years of experience.

Teachers with valid, comparable out-of-state certificates may be eligible for Maryland's professional certification. Those who completed a traditional preparation program and earned a professional license may apply for Maryland's equivalent license. However, transcripts are required for all applicants. It is not clear whether the state analyzes transcripts to determine whether a teacher was prepared through a traditional or alternate route or whether additional coursework will be required.

Maryland is also a participant in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement; however, the latest iteration of this agreement no longer purports to be a reciprocity agreement among states and thus is no longer included in this analysis.

Citation

Recommendations for Maryland

To uphold standards, require that teachers coming from other states meet testing requirements.
Maryland takes considerable risk by granting a waiver for its licensing tests to any out-of-state teacher who has two years of teaching experience. The state should not provide any waivers of its teacher tests unless an applicant can provide evidence of a passing score under its own standards. The negative impact on student learning stemming from a teacher's inadequate subject-matter knowledge is not mitigated by the teacher's having experience.

Accord the same license to out-of-state alternate route teachers as would be accorded to traditionally prepared teachers.
Maryland should consider discontinuing its requirement for the submission of transcripts. 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 Maryland.

State response to our analysis

Maryland asserted that transcripts are required for all candidates to verify that degree requirements have been met. For teachers with professional licensure who meet the experienced professional requirement, no differentiation is made regarding preparation route. Therefore, those experienced individuals who earn licensure through alternate pathways elsewhere are treated the same way as experienced professionals with traditional route preparation.

Maryland added that it carefully evaluates alternate preparation routes from other states to assess alignment with the state's standards. Individuals may, based on program alignment, receive either a Resident Teacher Certificate (if program requirements in the originating state have not been completed), or a Standard Professional Certificate. 

The state also contended that it does not waive the testing requirement for initial certification unless the individual has a valid out-of-state professional certificate and verification of three years of satisfactory experience within the past seven years in the certificate area being sought. Teachers with fewer than three years may meet initial certification requirements in one of the following ways: complete a Maryland approved program and present qualifying scores on Maryland tests, or complete an out-of-state approved program and present a valid professional certificate and the tests used to obtain that certificate.

"Initial certification by transcript analysis is but one pathway to initial certification. Although the use of this pathway has diminished over time, this pathway does provide an option for individuals who have degrees in a variety of content areas and prescribes relevant professional education coursework. Individuals completing approved programs are not subject to a transcript analysis."

Further, Maryland noted that it is currently proposing regulation changes recommended by the Certification Re-Structuring Work Group convened by the Professional Standards in Teacher Education Board. The proposal recommends a two-tiered structure that provides for both licensure and certification, the award of the latter depending in part on satisfactory or effective teaching and evidence of student growth. If these changes are made, all educators will receive initial licensure, but only those who have satisfactory evaluations as determined through performance-based assessments, including evidence of student growth, would be awarded certification.  

Finally, the state pointed out that even under the current structure, teachers from recognized programs such as Teach For America would be eligible to obtain licensure in Maryland assuming they successfully completed their program in another state and received that state's initial professional certifications. They must also present qualifying scores used to obtain the out-of-state professional certificate.  

Last word

The state's response indicates a commitment to reciprocity that unfortunately is not reflected in policy. Maryland should review its rules and procedures to ensure that they are not creating unnecessary obstacles, or even the perception of such obstacles, which could dissuade talented teachers from other states from seeking licensure in Maryland.

How we graded

Using transcripts to judge teacher competency provides little value.

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.

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.

Research rationale

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 2007, published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and the American Bar Association, available at:
http://www.ncbex.org/ .

On the similarity in effectiveness between graduates of traditional and alternative programs, see  J. Constantine, D. Player, T. Silva, K. Hallgren, M. Grider, and J. Deke, An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification, Final Report. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Services, U.S. Department of Education (2009), D. Boyd, et al. "How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement." Education Finance and Policy, (2006).  T. Kane, J. Rockoff, and D. Staiger. "What Does Certification Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness? Evidence from New York City." National Bureau of Economic Research. (2006), G. Henry and C. Thompson, "Impacts of Teacher Preparation on Student Test Scores in North Carolina." Teacher Portals. University of North Carolina (2010). Z.Xu, J. Hannaway and C. Taylor, "Making a Difference? The Effects of Teach for America in High School." The Urban Institute/Calder. (2009), D. Boyd et al "Recruiting Effective Math Teachers, How Do Math Immersion Teachers Compare? Evidence from New York City." Calder Institute (2009); as well as "How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement," by Donald Boyd, Pamela Grossman, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, and James Wyckoff, National Bureau of Economic Research, December 2005; and "The Effects of Teach For America on Students: Findings from a National Evaluation," (Mathematica Policy Research Inc., 2004).