Requirements for Out-of-State Teachers:
Wisconsin

2017 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy

Goal

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 in part

Analysis of Wisconsin's policies

Eligibility for Standard License: Wisconsin allows teachers with valid out-of-state certificates to be eligible for comparable licensure. Those with fewer than five years of experience are eligible for the initial educator license; those with five or more years may apply for the professional license. 

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

Testing Requirement: Wisconsin does not grant any waivers of its testing requirements. Wisconsin requires all out-of-state teachers, no matter how many years of experience they have, to meet the state's passing scores on licensing tests, including its Foundations of Reading test for applicable candidates.

Additional Requirements: Wisconsin's recency requirement calls for either five years of experience just prior to application or six credits from a regionally accredited college or university. 

Wisconsin specifically does not allow those prepared through an alternate route to apply as out-of-state applicants. These candidates must instead apply through the License Based on Equivalency Pathway, which relies on three years of teaching experience and a performance-based assessment process to determine competency. 

Wisconsin requires a criminal background check. 

Citation

Recommendations for Wisconsin

Require evidence of effective teaching when determining eligibility for full certification.
To facilitate the movement of effective teachers between states, Wisconsin 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. 
Wisconsin should reconsider its recency requirement regarding experience, as it may deter talented teachers from applying for certification. In addition, 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 Wisconsin.

State response to our analysis

Wisconsin recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. 

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.
Accessibility
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] 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.[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 http://www.nber.org/papers/w11844.pdf?new_window=1
[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 http://www.nber.org/papers/w12155.pdf?new_window=1
[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 http://www.ncbex.org/pubs/bar-admissions-guide/2017/mobile/index.html
[4] National Council on Teacher Quality. (2014, June). 2014 Teacher Prep Review. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Teacher_Prep_Review_2014_Report
[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 http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20094043/pdf/20094043.pdf; 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 http://publicpolicy.web.unc.edu/files/2014/02/Portal_TeachPrep-TestScore_June2010_Final.pdf; 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.