2017 Hiring Policy
The state should help to make licenses fully portable among states for effective teachers, with appropriate safeguards. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.
Eligibility for Standard License: Washington allows teachers with valid out-of-state certificates to be eligible for its Residency Certificate.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Washington does not require evidence of effective teaching during previous employment in its reciprocity policy.
Testing Requirement: Washington allows out-of-state teachers to use their passing scores from the originating state to meet its testing requirements.
Additional Requirements: Washington does not articulate 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 fewer than three years of experience are likely to be 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 requires a criminal background check.
Washington Administrative Code 181-79A-257 Requirements http://www.k12.wa.us/certification/Teacher/Residency.aspx Assessments http://www.k12.wa.us/certification/Teacher/teachertesting.aspx
Require evidence of effective teaching when determining eligibility for full certification.
To facilitate the movement of effective teachers between states, Washington 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. Such evidence should indeed be a factor for candidates who come from states that make student growth a determinative factor of a teacher evaluation. (See "Student Growth" analysis and recommendations.)
To uphold standards, require that teachers coming from other states meet testing requirements.
Washington should insist that out-of-state teachers meet its own testing requirements, and it should not waive its teacher testing requirements unless an applicant can provide evidence of a passing score that meets its own standards. By continuing to allow testing waivers, Washington cannot ensure that teachers who have passed assessments in other states have met comparable content-knowledge expectations.
Accord the same license to out-of-state alternate route teachers that 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 in Washington 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.
Washington was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis. The state also noted that teachers can meet reciprocity one of two ways: (1) verification of program completion, or (2) certification plus three years. For option 1, teachers must have their out-of-state preparation program sign a form stating that they met all of the requirements to be fully certified in that state. For option 2, teachers must show their out-of-state certificate, plus verification of three-plus years of employment as a teacher in that same state.
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.