Licensure Reciprocity: Washington

Expanding the Pool of Teachers Policy


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

Nearly meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Licensure Reciprocity: Washington results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Washington's policies

Washington could do more to support licensure reciprocity for certified teachers from other states.

Commendably, Washington only provides testing waivers 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 Washington's passing scores on licensing tests.

However, other aspects of the state's policy create obstacles for teachers from other states seeking licensure in Washington. Teachers with valid out-of-state certificates are eligible for Washington's Residency Certificate. There appear to be no recency or coursework requirements for applicants who completed a state-approved preparation program; however, alternate route teachers must have three years of experience and have participated in a supervised classroom-based internship during the course of the alternate route program.

Those with less than three years of experience are likely subject to transcript reviews, an exercise that often leads the state to require additional coursework before it will offer a license. States that reach a determination about an applicant's licensure status on the basis of the course titles listed on the applicant's transcript may end up mistakenly equating the amount of required coursework with the teacher's qualifications.

Washington 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.


Recommendations for Washington

Accord the same license to out-of-state alternate route teachers as would be accorded to traditionally prepared teachers.
Regardless of whether a teacher was prepared through a traditional or alternate route, all certified out-of-state teachers should receive equal treatment. The state's policy of transcript reviews would appear to imply that lacking a clear match with Washington's own professional requirements, the teacher would have to begin anew, repeating some, most or all of a preparation program in Washington. 

Washington should also reconsider its experience requirement for alternate route teachers, as it may deter talented teachers from applying for certification, namely those who participate in programs such as Teach For America, an alternate route in which teachers participate for two years.

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

Washington asserted that reciprocity is not based on certification, but whether the teacher completed a state-approved preparation program. The state added that out-of-state candidates who don't complete a state-approved preparation program in another state that requires a field experience can only be eligible for certification if they have three or more years of teaching experience. 

Washington also contended that it does not conduct transcript analysis. Candidates with less than three years of experience either need to finish the requirements of a state-approved program in their home state, or get a teaching job in Washington and enroll in an alternate route program while teaching on a conditional certificate.

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: .

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).