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: Montana allows teachers with valid out-of-state professional certificates to be eligible for a standard license.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Montana does not require evidence of effective teaching. Out-of-state teachers must verify five years of "successful" teaching experience.
Testing Requirement: Montana requires out-of-state teachers to earn passing scores on content knowledge tests.
Additional Requirements: Montana requires candidates without a current-out-of state license and five years of successful teaching experience to verify completion of a supervised teaching experience as part of an accredited professional educator preparation program. Out-of-state candidates must also complete an on-line course "An Introduction to Indian Education for All in Montana."
Background Checks: Montana also requires a full criminal-history background check.
Administrative Rules of Montana 10.57.201A and 10.57.410
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. Although Montana requires proof of satisfactory experience, the policy falls short of ensuring that evidence of effectiveness will be considered.
Offer a standard license to certified out-of-state teachers, absent unnecessary requirements.
Montana should reconsider its recency requirement as a means to judge licensure eligibility. Recent coursework is unlikely to positively affect a teacher's effectiveness, and such a requirement may deter experienced, effective teachers from applying for licensure in the state. Montana should also consider allowing a test-out option for its state-specific coursework requirements.
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 was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state also indicated that in May 2019, the U.S. Secretary of Education approved Montana's definition of an "ineffective" teacher, which states, "Montana teachers who are non-licensed." The Montana Office of Public Instruction produced baseline data collected and verified by the 2019 Montana Terms of Employment, Accreditation, and Master Schedule (TEAMS) report.
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.