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: Montana allows teachers with valid out-of-state professional certificates to be eligible for a comparable Montana certificate.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Montana does not require evidence of effective teaching during previous employment in its reciprocity policy.
Testing Requirement: Montana has not yet implemented mandatory subject-matter testing for any teachers as part of its certification policy.
Additional Requirements: Montana requires candidates to verify completion of a supervised teaching experience as part of an accredited professional educator preparation program. Montana also requires a criminal background check.
Administrative Rules of Montana 10.57.201
Require evidence of effective teaching when determining eligibility for full certification.
To facilitate the movement of effective teachers between states, Montana 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 Goal 7-A: Student Growth analysis and recommendations.)
Adopt testing requirements and then require that teachers coming from other states meet those requirements.
Montana should adopt testing requirements that require all teachers, without exception, to pass licensing tests within one year of hire. The negative impact on student learning stemming from a teacher's inadequate subject-matter knowledge is not mitigated by the teacher having attained certification.
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 Montana 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.
Montana 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.