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: North Carolina allows out-of-state teachers, with three or more years of experience, to apply for its professional educator's continuing license, without specifying any additional coursework or recency requirements to determine eligibility.
Evidence of Effectiveness: North Carolina requires evidence of effective teaching during previous employment, when available, in its reciprocity policy. Applications that include evidence of effectiveness are prioritized for review over applications that do not include such information.
Testing Requirement: North Carolina requires out-of-state candidates to meet the state's testing requirements. The only waiver is for those who are National Board certified.
Additional Requirements: North Carolina does not explicitly require a criminal background check.
State Board of Education Policy Manual TCP-A-002, 2.10 S599 (2017), 115C-270.25 Steps to a Professional License http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/licensure/steps/
Require a criminal-history background check.
As a condition of licensure, North Carolina 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 North Carolina's criminal background check.
North Carolina was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis. The state added that although there is reference to effectiveness measures in current policy, it is unclear what it would do in the event that evidence of effective teaching is required but documentation is not available, for whatever reason. North Carolina also noted that background checks are currently conducted at the local employment level for all educators as a condition of employment. Integration of background checks into the state-level licensure process was considered but was not instituted. Finally, the state pointed out that additional coursework is not a requirement where North Carolina has like licensure areas and the educator qualifies for the license in another state.
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.