2017 General Teacher Prep Programs 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: Arkansas offers its standard license to out-of-state certified teachers.
Evidence of Effectiveness: Arkansas does not require evidence of effective teaching during previous employment in its reciprocity policy.
Testing Requirement: To qualify for the standard license, Arkansas requires out-of-state teachers to either submit passing scores on tests in the licensing state or to earn passing scores on Arkansas's content-area exams. Arkansas also allows a waiver for candidates who submit proof of at least three years' teaching experience.
Additional Requirements: Arkansas requires out-of-state teachers to complete either three college credit hours in Arkansas history at an accredited institution or a 45-hour professional development piece in Arkansas history offered through Arkansas IDEAS, if the licensure area is elementary or social studies. Arkansas does not offer teachers a test-out option. Documentation of the following professional development training must also be submitted: parental involvement, child maltreatment, teen suicide awareness and prevention, and dyslexia. Arkansas also requires a criminal-history background check.
Arkansas Department of Education Rules Governing Educator Licensure http://www.arkansased.gov/public/userfiles/HR_and_Educator_Effectiveness/HR_Educator_Licensure/ADE317_Emergency_Rules_Governing_Educator_Licensure_SBOE_7.09.2015.pdf Act 1090 (2015)
Require evidence of effective teaching when determining eligibility for full certification.
To facilitate the movement of effective teachers between states, Arkansas 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 Goal 7-A: Student Growth analysis and recommendations.)
To uphold standards, require that teachers coming from other states meet testing requirements.
Arkansas 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 Arkansas's standard, such as an elementary content test that requires a passing score on each content core subject. (See Goal 2-A: Elementary Content Knowledge analysis and recommendations.)
Offer a standard license to certified out-of-state teachers, absent unnecessary requirements.
Although the Arkansas history coursework requirement is reasonable, the state should offer out-of-state teachers a test-out option.
Arkansas noted that beginning January 1, 2019, the state will implement a tiered licensure system, and all who apply, including by reciprocity, for the top three tiers will be required to have verification that they are performing at the level of Effective Teacher as defined in the state's ESSA plan. However, these rules are still being promulgated.
Arkansas also indicated that it requires pedagogy testing.
In a follow-up response, Arkansas reiterated that out-of-state teachers must pass three background checks: state and federal criminal history, and the Arkansas Child Maltreatment Central Registry. Also, out-of-state teachers are required to take Arkansas History, which is offered through free online professional development.
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. New evaluation systems coming on line across the country 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.