Certification by Reciprocity

Due to teacher shortages throughout the country, many states have begun to recruit or push for certified teachers to relocate to their struggling school districts. However, teachers often run into problems with state certification boards accepting teaching licenses and credentials issued in other states than their own.

To help recruit highly qualified teachers from out of state, some state governments have moved towards teacher certification reciprocity (TCR). TCR is an agreement between one state’s government with another state’s government to recognize the other’s teaching certification standards. The benefit in having teacher reciprocity is that governments are able to reach gifted and talented teachers from a wider variety of backgrounds for their open teaching positions.

For elementary teachers, TCR is a huge positive for their career. Having a certificate that can be transferred from one state to another means that teachers can be more mobile than ever. Going through the initial certification process in one state now means that new and current elementary teachers do not have to go through the often unnecessary or repetitious re-certification process that was once the norm when a teacher moved states. And it also opens up a wider set of jobs and career options for those who may struggle to find a position in their own state.

  • The NASDTEC Interstate Agreement

    The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) oversees the largest TCR agreement in the nation, the “Interstate Agreement.” In short, it is a collection of different agreements from member states and even some provinces of Canada. Each agreement varies from state to state and may require some different credentials for each individual TCR agreement.

    For elementary teachers, it is important to research the particular TCR agreements within the NASDTEC before deciding to apply or transfer to another state. For example, if the “receiving” state is Massachusetts, teachers from outside states may apply for certification by reciprocity if they have at least an initial certificate from their home state and three years of documented professional teaching experience. In Massachusetts, this agreement exists with all 50 states; not all states are the same, so it is essential to check first.

  • Graduation Via NCATE Certified Programs

    The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) also makes it easy for teachers to transfer their licenses to other states. The 20 member states all have agreements that allow certified teachers who have completed their education at certified institutions to transfer their certification from one state to the next without having to take additional coursework.

    This saves the moving teacher potentially thousands of dollars in extra college curriculum and it streamlines the process to ensure that they can take advantage of the move sooner. However, as with the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement, different states have different procedures and requirements for the transferring teacher. It can be as simple as Alabama’s policy to ensure that new teachers are run through their state’s background test procedures, or as complex as Ohio’s requirement to take the Praxis II teaching exam.

  • Standard Testing Procedures

    Many states require transferring teachers to have passed their version of testing. The standard examinations are the Praxis I (basic skills) and Praxis II (subject-area concentration) exams. These testing procedures are meant to provide consistency in quality and education amongst all teachers in a state.

    Potential transferring teachers may benefit in taking the Praxis exams so that their ability to move state to state is not hindered. For those in states like Illinois, where the Praxis replaced by a different set of basic and core skill exams, not having taken the standard test could hinder transferral, particularly to other states that require passing the Praxis.

Certification by Reciprocity Made Easy

With agreements such as the NASDTEC and NASTE and the standardization of core and skill testing, receiving a certification by reciprocity has become more and more simple. However, transferring teachers must remember to always check in with the new state’s licensing boards before assuming that they can simply transfer. By staying up-to-date with national procedures and agreements, future and current elementary teachers can continue becoming more mobile and efficient than ever before.

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