Requirements for Out-of-State Teachers: South

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 South Dakota's policies

Eligibility for Standard License: South Dakota allows teachers with valid out-of-state certificates to be eligible for comparable licensure in South Dakota.

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

Testing Requirement: South Dakota does not provide any waivers on its testing requirements. All out-of-state teachers, no matter how many years of experience they have, must meet South Dakota's passing scores on licensing tests.

Additional Requirements: South Dakota requires applicants to meet its coursework recency requirement, meaning that if the out-of-state teacher's degree is more than five years old, he or she must show proof of six semester credit hours within the five-year period preceding application. 

South Dakota also requires all incoming teachers to complete two courses in human relations and South Dakota Indian Studies. South Dakota does not appear to offer a test-out option for this coursework.

South Dakota 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.


Recommendations for South Dakota

Require evidence of effective teaching when determining eligibility for full certification.
To facilitate the movement of effective teachers between states, South Dakota 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: Measures of Student Growth analysis and recommendations.)

Offer a standard license to certified out-of-state teachers, absent unnecessary requirements. 
South Dakota's recency requirement may deter talented teachers from applying for certification. Therefore, NCTQ encourages the state to shift its focus to effectiveness in the classroom and away from its generic requirement of recent coursework, regardless of whether that experience positively affected student achievement. Further, the state's human relations and South Dakota Indian Studies coursework requirements are reasonable, but South Dakota should offer out-of-state teachers a test-out option.

Require a criminal-history background check.
As a condition of licensure, South Dakota 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 South Dakota's criminal background check.

State response to our analysis

South Dakota declined to respond to NCTQ's analyses.

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.