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: Michigan allows teachers with valid out-of-state certificates to apply for its professional certificate.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Michigan does not specifically require evidence of effective teaching during previous employment in its reciprocity policy. Teachers must have three years of "successful" teaching experience.
Testing Requirement: Michigan grants a waiver for its licensing tests to any out-of-state teacher with three years of experience who also satisfies the reading and higher education coursework requirements.
Additional Requirements: In addition to experience, Michigan requires applicants who completed a teacher preparation program outside the state to also meet Michigan's reading requirement with six semester credit hours of reading methods for an elementary level certificate, or three such hours for a secondary level certificate. Candidates must also have completed 18 semester credit hours in an approved master's program after issuance of the initial license or hold an approved out-of-state master's or higher degree.
Michigan does not explicitly require a criminal background check.
Michigan Revised School Code 380.1531 Out of State Applicants: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/Out_Of_State_Applicants_534635_7.pdf
Require evidence of effective teaching when determining eligibility for full certification.
To facilitate the movement of effective teachers between states, Michigan 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 "Student Growth" analysis and recommendations.) Although Michigan 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.
Michigan 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, Michigan 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.
While Michigan's reading requirement is reasonable the state should take steps to ensure that the coursework focuses on the science of reading instruction and that it inserts flexibility into its policy by allowing a test-out option. Michigan should reconsider its higher education coursework requirement, as it is unlikely to positively influence a teacher's effectiveness, and such a requirement may deter effective teachers from applying for licensure in the state.
Require a criminal-history background check.
As a condition of licensure, Michigan 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 Michigan's criminal background check.
Michigan 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.