Licensure Reciprocity: Nebraska

2011 Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should help to make licenses fully portable among states, with appropriate safeguards.

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Licensure Reciprocity: Nebraska results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/NE-Licensure-Reciprocity-7

Analysis of Nebraska's policies

Nebraska does not support licensure reciprocity for certified teachers from other states.

Regrettably, Nebraska has not yet implemented mandatory subject-matter testing for any teachers as part of its certification policy.

Teachers with comparable out-of-state certificates are eligible for Nebraska's standard certificate. Applicants are required to have, within the five years prior to application, one year of experience at the same school. Transcripts are also required for all out-of-state teachers; however, it is not clear whether the state analyzes transcripts to determine whether a teacher was prepared through a traditional or alternate route or whether additional coursework will be required.

Nebraska also requires human relations training, which can either be satisfied with coursework or employment experience.

Nebraska is also a participant in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement; however, the latest iteration of this agreement no longer purports to be a reciprocity agreement among states and thus is no longer included in this analysis.

Citation

Recommendations for Nebraska

Adopt testing requirements and then require that teachers coming from other states meet those requirements.
Nebraska 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's having attained certification.

Offer a standard license to certified out-of-state teachers, absent unnecessary requirements.
Nebraska should reconsider its recency requirement regarding experience, as it may deter talented teachers from applying for certification. It should also consider discontinuing its requirement for the submission of transcripts. Transcript analysis is likely to result in additional coursework requirements, even for traditionally prepared teachers; alternate route teachers, on the other hand, may have to virtually begin anew, repeating some, most or all of a teacher preparation program in Nebraska.

Accord the same license to out-of-state alternate route teachers as would be accorded to traditionally prepared teachers.
Nebraska's implication that teachers may be less effective if they worked in more than one school bears no relationship to any research on teacher quality. This policy constitutes a needless burden on all teachers who may wish to transfer, but it is likely to be a particular burden to alternate route teachers. In the case of an alternate route teacher who has taught on a provisional license for three years while completing his or her preparation—a common scenario—Nebraska's policy would require five years of teaching experience to receive a standard license.

Regardless of whether a teacher was prepared through a traditional or alternate route, all certified out-of-state teachers 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.

State response to our analysis

Nebraska asserted that it is not a transcript-review state, and that it generally issues a license to out-of-state applicants if they hold a regular license—or qualify for a license—that has been earned by completing a state-approved teacher preparation program at a regionally accredited institution of higher education. "The primary purpose of the transcript submission is to verify that they have completed a state-approved teacher preparation program in a regionally accredited institution, and that they meet [Nebraska's] minimal additional requirements (human relations and special education)." The state added that there are coursework alternatives available for the statutory human relations requirement. 

Nebraska also acknowledged that it continues to expect applicants to have completed a state-approved teacher preparation program at a regionally accredited institution of higher education. Further, the state pointed out that out-of-state teachers may receive an initial certificate, and that experience is not the only option—recent credit will also be honored for issuance of the certificate. "For purposes of the standard certificate, these requirements are consistent with in-state candidate requirements, and are not an extra barrier for out-of-state applicants."
Finally, Nebraska contended that it does not consider its policy for verifying that out-of-state candidates are well prepared and that they meet the expected standards as "disingenuous."

Last word

The submission of transcripts should be unnecessary for certified out-of-state teachers, unless the state has some reason to suspect that the certifying state routinely licenses teachers who do not have a degree.

How we graded

Using transcripts to judge teacher competency provides little value.

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 experience or success level. The application of these often complex state rules results in unnecessary obstacles to hiring talented and experienced teachers. Little evidence indicates that reviewing a person's undergraduate coursework improves the quality of the teaching force or ensures that teachers have adequate knowledge.

Testing requirements should be upheld, not waived.
While many states impose burdensome coursework requirements, they often fail to impose minimum standards on licensure tests. Instead, they offer 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. Too many states have 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 wide variety in quality can be found in traditional programs. If a teacher comes from another state with a standard license and can pass the state's licensure tests, whether the preparation was traditional or alternative should be irrelevant.

Research rationale

Many professions have gone further than teaching in encouraging interstate mobility. The requirements for attorneys, for example, are complicated, but often offer certain kinds of flexibility, such as allowing them to answer a small set of additional questions. See the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admissions Requirements 2007, published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and the American Bar Association, available at:
http://www.ncbex.org/ .

On the similarity in effectiveness between graduates of traditional and alternative programs, see  J. Constantine, D. Player, T. Silva, K. Hallgren, M. Grider, and J. Deke, An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification, Final Report. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Services, U.S. Department of Education (2009), D. Boyd, et al. "How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement." Education Finance and Policy, (2006).  T. Kane, J. Rockoff, and D. Staiger. "What Does Certification Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness? Evidence from New York City." National Bureau of Economic Research. (2006), G. Henry and C. Thompson, "Impacts of Teacher Preparation on Student Test Scores in North Carolina." Teacher Portals. University of North Carolina (2010). Z.Xu, J. Hannaway and C. Taylor, "Making a Difference? The Effects of Teach for America in High School." The Urban Institute/Calder. (2009), D. Boyd et al "Recruiting Effective Math Teachers, How Do Math Immersion Teachers Compare? Evidence from New York City." Calder Institute (2009); as well as "How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement," by Donald Boyd, Pamela Grossman, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, and James Wyckoff, National Bureau of Economic Research, December 2005; and "The Effects of Teach For America on Students: Findings from a National Evaluation," (Mathematica Policy Research Inc., 2004).