Teacher Certification Reciprocity

teacher certification  reciprocityTeacher certification reciprocity can be a complicated topic, and one that requires thorough research into the policies of the states where you want to teach. Essentially, reciprocity is an agreement between states to recognize teaching credentials issued by each other. For example, New York may come to an agreement with California in which it will accept teachers with credentials issued by California for review, allowing teachers who have been credentialed in California to teach in New York --- although with some additional criteria.

Remember: The requirements to become a teacher vary on a state-by-state basis and to become licensed, you have to meet the requirements of the state in which you want to teach. Many states, however, participate in teaching credential reciprocity agreements and will thus recognize your teaching credential if issued in another state.

Reciprocity Overview

The impetus behind reciprocity is to respond to teacher shortages across the nation. Reciprocity increases teacher mobility, and the hope is that teachers will move across state lines to areas of high need. The fact that each state sets its own requirements for teacher licensure leads to a lot of variation that impedes educators’ mobility. You may surpass the requirements for teaching in your state, but if you’re moving to another state, you may not meet their criteria.

Reciprocity seeks to alleviate some of these difficulties. States enter into agreements with each other to recognize a recommendation for licensure from a state-approved education program at an accredited college or university (for accredited teacher education programs and schools of education, visit the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education).

Reciprocity does not mean you can “trade in your license” for a license in the state to which you’re moving. It also doesn’t mean that your license will be recognized in that other state. What it means is that if you apply for a teaching position in another state, that state will review your application to see if you meet their qualifications. Even states in reciprocity agreements retain the right to set their own standards for teachers, and if you don’t meet those standards, you cannot teach there. However, if you’re applying under the rules of reciprocity, the process is much easier. You won’t be expected to undergo another entire teacher education program to become licensed in that state. Each state is different, but generally you may only need to take a test or meet specific coursework requirements to ensure you are qualified in accordance with that state’s specific requirements.

Interstate Agreement

The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) was established to encourage cooperation and communication between educators of different states, and to facilitate mobility and licensing between states. The NASDTEC formed the Interstate Agreement to facilitate this movement. As of 2011, the only states that do not participate in the Interstate Agreement are Iowa and Minnesota. Someone who is licensed or certified in one state can earn their license in another state so long as both states participate in the agreement. Some states have their own special requirements which must be met, such as additional coursework, testing or classroom experience, but the agreement makes it much easier. The way the Agreement works is that each state (as well as the District of Columbia, the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico, and even some Canadian provinces) declares which states they’ll accept teacher licenses or certificates from, as well as what additional requirements, if any, are needed. They can even specify which types of certificates they’ll accept (teachers, administrators, etc.). These agreements do not necessarily go both ways. Just because Georgia, for example, accepts certification from Connecticut does not mean that Connecticut accepts Georgia certification. Connecticut would have to specify in its agreement that it accepts Georgia certification.

Regional Agreements

NASDTEC is not the only organization with interstate agreements. Many states have taken it upon themselves to enter into regional agreements with neighboring states. Regional agreements are smaller and therefore allow for greater specificity and agreement on different aspects of licensure and reciprocity. With a smaller number of states, there is also the potential to set a uniform standard for teaching licensure and preparation. States can be a member of both the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement and a regional agreement, and you can apply to work in that state under one agreement or the other, depending which you qualify for. The SHEEO report details some of the specific regional agreements, which arose to compensate for any teachers left out by the conditions of the NASDTEC agreement.

National Certification

National certification is an alternative to reciprocity that seeks to standardize the criteria for teacher qualification across multiple states. It is important to note, however, that National Board Certification is meant to act as a compliment to a state teaching credential, not as a replacement.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) are two organizations that work to unify standards for teacher qualification across many states. These organizations have outlined a framework for states to shape their teacher education programs, the end results being similar standards for teachers that make moving between states much easier. Through this uniformity, your licensecertification doesn’t necessarily have to be “reciprocated” in another state, but your certification will show that you have similar qualifications to those required in another state and working there will be easier. NBPTS offers National Board Certification, which is an advanced teaching certificate that demonstrates knowledge and qualification above and beyond your license. Candidates for National Board Certification voluntarily complete ten assessments in whichever area of certification they’re seeking. This certificate is recognized in most states, and will therefore make it easier to teach in another state. However, once again, it is important to note that a National Board Certification will supplement a state teaching credential but not replace it. Teachers are still required to earn their state teaching credential before being legally allowed to teaching in a public school system.