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: New Jersey allows teachers with valid, comparable out-of-state certificates to be eligible for its standard license.
Evidence of Effectiveness: For the standard certificate, New Jersey requires out-of-state teachers to demonstrate at least two effective years of teaching completed within three consecutive years within the last four calendar years. This requirement is waived for teachers who are National Board certified or hold the Meritorious New Teacher Candidate (MNTC) designation.
Testing Requirement: New Jersey only considers testing requirements for out-of-state candidates who do not meet the effectiveness requirement. Traditional route candidates can apply for the Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing if they either pass New Jersey's content assessments or were required to pass a content test in their originating states; they must also pass a performance assessment approved by the state. Alternate route candidates can apply for the Certificate of Eligibility and must meet all of New Jersey's testing requirements.
Additional Requirements: New Jersey requires out-of-state applicants to answer questions on the application about criminal-history. If any are answered in the affirmative, then candidates must submit additional documentation.
New Jersey Administrative Code 6A:9B-8.8 Out-of-State Reciprocity: http://www.nj.gov/education/educators/license/out/reciprocity.htm
To uphold standards, require that teachers coming from other states meet testing requirements.
New Jersey 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 New Jersey'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.)
Require a criminal-history background check.
As a condition of licensure, New Jersey should ensure that all out-of-state candidates pass a complete criminal-history background check. Because of differences in state statutes regarding the scope of teacher criminal background checks, a clear criminal background check from another state would not necessarily indicate that a teacher would pass New Jersey's criminal background check.
New Jersey recognized the factual accuracy of this 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. 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.