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: South Dakota allows teachers with valid out-of-state certificates to be eligible for comparable licensure in South Dakota.
Evidence of Effectiveness: South Dakota does not require evidence of effective teaching during previous employment in its reciprocity policy.
Testing Requirement: South Dakota's out-of-state teachers are not required to pass content exams, if they possess a comparable valid certification from another state.
Additional Requirements: South Dakota requires alternate route teachers to provide verification of three years of experience within the last five years.
South Dakota also requires all incoming teachers to complete one clock hour of approved suicide awareness and a three-credit South Dakota Indian Studies course. South Dakota does not appear to offer a test-out option for this coursework.
Background Checks: South Dakota requires local school districts to complete full criminal background checks.
Require evidence of effective teaching when determining eligibility for full certification.
To facilitate the movement of effective teachers between states, South Dakota 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.
To uphold standards, require that teachers transferring from other states meet testing requirements.
South Dakota should insist that out-of-state teachers meet its own testing requirements or provide evidence of a passing score on an applicable content test from the originating state.
Offer a standard license to certified out-of-state teachers, absent unnecessary requirements.
South Dakota's recency requirement may deter talented teachers from applying for certification. Therefore, NCTQ encourages the state to shift its focus to effectiveness in the classroom and away from its generic requirement of recent coursework, regardless of whether that experience positively affected student achievement. Further, the state's coursework requirements are reasonable, but South Dakota should offer out-of-state teachers a test-out option.
South Dakota was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis. The state indicated that it requires the out-of-state license issuer to verify the applicant has an active certificate and to identify any deficiencies on the certificate. The license issue must also verify if there are any prior or pending disciplinary actions against the license holder for actual or alleged ethics violations.
In addition, the NASDTEC Clearinghouse is checked to ensure the educator has no prior or pending disciplinary actions.
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.