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: West Virginia allows out-of-state teachers with comparable certification and at least five years of experience to apply for the state's permanent professional teaching certificate. No additional coursework or recency requirements are specified to determine eligibility.
Evidence of Effectiveness: West Virginia does not require evidence of effective teaching during previous employment in its reciprocity policy.
Testing Requirement: West Virginia waives its licensing tests for out-of-state teachers who have had three years of teaching experience within the last seven years.
Additional Requirements: West Virginia requires a criminal background check.
Legislative Rule Board of Education Series 136, Policy 5202, 126-136-16
Require evidence of effective teaching when determining eligibility for full certification.
To facilitate the movement of effective teachers between states, West Virginia 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 7-A Student Growth analysis and recommendations.)
To uphold standards, require that teachers coming from other states meet testing requirements.
West Virginia 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, West Virginia cannot ensure that teachers who have passed assessments in other states have met comparable content-knowledge expectations.
West Virginia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state reiterated that all teachers must complete a West Virginia background check for initial licensure, and that all out-of-state candidates must have a valid license from their issuing state and have met their testing/program requirements. West Virginia does offer a full license to out-of-state applicants who are fully certified in that state. The state does not conduct transcript analysis.
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.