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: 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.
Testing Requirement: North Carolina requires either that out-of-state candidates meet the state's testing requirements, or that the test administered in the originating state is "comparable in content and rigor" and was passed "at a satisfactory level." The only waiver is for those who are National Board certified.
Additional Requirements: None
Background Checks: Regrettably, North Carolina 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.
State Board of Education Policy Manual LICN-001, 1.25a
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 included an excerpt from its G.S. § 115C-296(b)(1): "Initial applicants for NC educator licensure who possess a valid, current out-of-state educator license shall demonstrate evidence of effectiveness by providing evaluation data, including student growth (where applicable), from the State in which the current license is held. Out-of-state applicants who provide these effectiveness data and who are employed with, or are recommended by, an NC public school system (LEA or charter school) shall be prioritized for review over out-of-state applicants who do not provide these effectiveness data as part of the application for initial NC licensure. Out-of-state educators who meet the above conditions and have passed a comparable licensure exam may be issued a Continuing Professional License."
The state reiterated that, for elementary and ECGC, if the out-of-state candidate does not have a comparable exam, they must take and pass the reading assessment.
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.