Requirements for Out-of-State Teachers:

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.

Meets a small part

Analysis of Kentucky's policies

Eligibility for Standard License: Kentucky allows teachers with valid out-of-state certificates to be eligible for Kentucky certification; however, Kentucky does not guarantee a similar license.

Evidence of Effectiveness: Kentucky does not require evidence of effective teaching during previous employment in its reciprocity policy.

Testing Requirement: Kentucky grants a waiver of its licensing tests to any out-of-state teacher who has at least two years of experience.

Additional Requirements: Kentucky evaluates cases on an individual basis, and it requires transcripts for all applicants, indicating the likelihood that officials will analyze transcripts to determine whether a teacher was prepared through a traditional or alternate route and how much additional coursework will be required. 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. Kentucky specifically articulates that it does not recognize teaching credentials gained in another state only by the passage of an assessment.

Kentucky also requires a criminal-history background check. 


Recommendations for Kentucky

Require evidence of effective teaching when determining eligibility for full certification.
To facilitate the movement of effective teachers between states, Kentucky 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.
Kentucky 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. This is especially important when it comes to out-of-state teachers who have passed content tests that do not rise to the level of Kentucky's standard, such as an elementary content test that requires a passing score on each content core subject. (See 2-A Elementary Content Knowledge analysis and recommendations.)

Offer a standard license to certified out-of-state teachers, absent unnecessary requirements. 
Kentucky should consider adopting a more flexible policy regarding portability. Transcript reviews are not a particularly meaningful or efficient exercise, and the state should consider discontinuing its requirement for the submission of transcripts for all teachers. Transcript analysis is likely to result in additional coursework requirements, even for traditionally prepared teachers; alternate route teachers, on the other hand, may have to virtually begin anew, repeating some, most or all of a teacher preparation program in Kentucky.

State response to our analysis

Kentucky indicated that, effective December 1, 2016, it is a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). As described on the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement's website, the "State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement is an agreement among member states, districts and territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state. SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts." A list of SARA member states and institutions can be found on the website. 

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

6A: Requirements for Out-of-State Teachers 

  • Evidence of Effectiveness: The state should require evidence of effective teaching in previous employment from all out-of-state teachers.
  • Criminal Background Check: The state should require all out-of-state teachers to possess a clean criminal record.
  • Content Knowledge: The state should uphold its content-knowledge standards by requiring all out-of-state teachers to meet or exceed its own state testing requirements.
  • Accessibility: The state should:
    • offer a standard license to fully certified, out-of-state teachers without requiring additional coursework based on transcript analyses or certifications that are out of date.
    • accord the same process and set of requirements for out-of-state teachers who completed an approved alternate route program as it accords to out-of-state teachers prepared in traditional preparation programs.
Evidence of Effectiveness
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires teachers to provide evidence of effective teaching based on prior teaching experience.
Criminal Background Check
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following: 

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires a full criminal background check for all teachers seeking to transfer licenses to teach in its state.
Content Knowledge
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires teachers to demonstrate adequate content knowledge by meeting or exceeding the recipient state's testing requirements.
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it does not require any additional obstacles or requirements for all teachers seeking to transfer licenses to teach in its state.

Research rationale

Evidence of effectiveness is far more important than transcript review.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5]

[1] Boyd, D., Grossman, P., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2006). How changes in entry requirements alter the teacher workforce and affect student achievement. Retrieved from
[2] See review an investigation into teacher effectiveness and certification processes, see: Kane, T. J., Rockoff, J. E., & Staiger, D. O. (2008). What does certification tell us about teacher effectiveness? Evidence from New York City. Economics of Education Review, 27(6), 615-631. Retrieved from
[3] 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. In fact, teacher preparation might be able to take a page from their book. By balancing the testing of core functions of teaching that remain the same across states, while also holding instructors responsible for local-specific regulations, reciprocity might be able to be more efficient, while still holding educators to high standards, as the Bar is able to do in the field of law. See: National Conference of Bar Examiners and American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. (2017). Comprehensive guide to Bar admissions requirements 2017. Retrieved from
[4] National Council on Teacher Quality. (2014, June). 2014 Teacher Prep Review. Retrieved from
[5] On the similarity in effectiveness between graduates of traditional and alternative programs, see: Constantine, J., Player, D., Silva, T., Hallgren, K., Grider, M., & Deke, J. (2009). An evaluation of teachers trained through different routes to certification. Final Report. NCEE 2009-4043. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from; For a review of different paths into teaching in North Carolina, see: Henry, G. T., Thompson, C. L., Bastian, K. C., Fortner, C. K., Kershaw, D. C., Purtell, K. M., & Zulli, R. A. (2010). Portal report: Teacher preparation and student test scores in North Carolina. Carolina Institute for Public Policy. Retrieved from; For information on Teach for America's alternate certification programming, see: Decker, P. T., Mayer, D. P., & Glazerman, S. (2004). The effects of Teach for America on students: Findings from a national evaluation. University of Wisconsin—Madison, Institute for Research on Poverty.