The state should help to make licenses fully portable among states, with appropriate safeguards.
Commendably, New York provides testing waivers only to teachers who have attained National Board Certification. All other out-of-state teachers, no matter how many years of experience they have, must meet New York's passing scores on licensing tests. The state also allows out-of-state teachers to teach on its Conditional Initial Certificate for two years to satisfy the examination requirements.
However, other aspects of the state's policy create obstacles for teachers from other states seeking licensure in New York. Teachers with comparable out-of-state certificates are eligible for New York's standard license. Applicants are required to complete an approved teacher education program; alternate route teachers must have three years of experience within the last seven years. Those who lack three years of experience must submit transcripts for review.
Although New York requires all online teachers to be certificated, it is not clear whether teachers outside New York must meet the state's certification requirements.
Require out-of-state teachers to pass licensing tests within one year.
Two years in the classroom without meeting the state's testing requirements is too long. New York should ensure that all out-of-state teachers meet its testing standards in their first year of teaching in the state.
Offer a standard license to certified out-of-state teachers, absent unnecessary requirements.
New York's policy regarding submission of transcripts would appear to imply that, lacking a clear match with New York's own professional requirements, the teacher would have to begin anew, repeating some, most or all of a preparation program in New York. 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.
Require evidence of effective teaching when determining eligibility for full certification.
Rather than rely on transcripts to assess credentials, New York should instead require that evidence of teacher effectiveness be considered for all out-of-state candidates. Such evidence is especially important for candidates who come from states that make student growth at least a significant factor of a teacher evaluation (see Goal 3-B).
Accord the same license to out-of-state alternate route teachers as would be accorded to traditionally prepared teachers.
New York should reconsider its recency requirement regarding experience for alternate route teachers, as it may deter talented teachers from applying for certification. New York should also ensure that its experience requirement does not preclude fully certified alternate route teachers who have completed their preparation from obtaining reciprocal licensure. For example, certified Teach For America teachers who have fulfilled their two-year commitment in other states should be eligible for licensure in New York.
Ensure that requirements for online teachers are as rigorous as those for in-state teachers.
New York should ensure that online teachers based in other states are at least equally as qualified as those who teach in the state. However, New York should balance the interests of its students in having qualified online instructors with making certain that these requirements do not create unnecessary obstacles for out-of-state teachers.
New York asserted that any teacher of state public school students must be certified by New York regardless of the medium of instruction. The state added that it ensures that all teachers have the skills and abilities necessary to teach in the state, and that their preparation is equivalent to a New York-registered teacher education program. New York is looking at a possible regulation change for out-of-state candidates.
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.
New evaluation systems coming on line across the country which prioritize effectiveness and evidence of student learning (see Goal 3-B) 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 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.
Licensure Reciprocity: Supporting Research
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 2014, published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and the American Bar Association, available at https://www.ncbex.org/assets/media_files/Comp-Guide/CompGuide.pdf.
On the similarity in effectiveness between graduates of traditional and alternative programs, see J. Constantine, D. Player, T. Silva, K. Hallgren, M. Grider, J. Deke, and E. Warner, An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification, Final Report. February 2009, U.S. Department of Education, NCEE 2009-4043. D. Boyd, P. Grossman, H. Lankford, S. Loeb, and J. Wyckoff, "How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement." NBER Working Paper No. 11844, December 2005. T. Kane, J. Rockoff, and D. Staiger. "What Does Certification Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness? Evidence from New York City." NBER Working Paper No.12155, April 2006. G. Henry, C. Thompson, K. Bastian, C. Fortner, D. Kershaw, K. Purtell, R. Zulli, A. Mabe, and A. Chapman, "Impacts of Teacher Preparation on Student Test Scores in North Carolina: Teacher Portals". The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina Institute for Public Policy, 2010, 34p. Z. Xu, J. Hannaway, and C. Taylor, "Making a Difference? The Effects of Teach for America in High School." The Urban Institute/Calder, Working Paper 17, April 2007. D. Boyd, P. Grossman, K. Hammerness. H. Lankford, S. Loeb, M. Ronfeldt, and J. Wyckoff, "Recruiting Effective Math Teachers: How Do Math Immersion Teachers Compare?: Evidence from New York City." NBER Working Paper No.16017, May 2010; as well as "How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement," by D. Boyd, P. Grossman, H. Lankford, S. Loeb, and J. Wyckoff, NBER Working Paper No.11844, December 2005; and "The Effects of Teach For America on Students: Findings from a National Evaluation," by P. Decker, D. Mayer, and S. Glazerman, Mathematica Policy Research Inc., 2004.