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: Mississippi allows teachers with comparable out-of-state certificates to be eligible for a standard license, without specifying any additional coursework or recency requirements to determine eligibility.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Mississippi does not require evidence of effective teaching during previous employment in its reciprocity policy.
Testing Requirement: Mississippi requires that all teachers to provide documentation of "a passing score on a core subject test required for certification by the issuing state, or documentation that verifies the out-of-state license was obtained in a manner equivalent with current Mississippi license guidelines for that license." The state also offers a two-year reciprocity license to out of state teachers with less than a standard license. Teachers with this license have two years to meet Mississippi's test requirements. This means that an out of state teacher coming from a state that did not require passage of a content test can teach for up to two years before having to pass a content test.
Additional Requirements: None
Background Checks: Regrettably, Mississippi does not explicitly require 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.
Mississippi Code Annotated 37-3-2(8) Reciprocity Licenses https://www.mdek12.org/OTL/OEL/Reciprocity
Require evidence of effective teaching when determining eligibility for full certification.
To facilitate the movement of effective teachers between states, Mississippi 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.
Require a criminal-history background check.
As a condition of licensure, Mississippi 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 Mississippi's criminal background check.
Ensure that out-of-state teachers meet testing requirements in a timely manner.
Although Mississippi requires out-of-state teachers to meet its own testing standards if applying for the five-year reciprocity license, the state allows up to two years for its two-year reciprocity license. Mississippi is encouraged to strengthen its policy and not allow a teacher to be in a classroom more than one year without having met the state's testing standards.
Mississippi was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced 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.