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Navigating the Murky Waters of Reciprocity
posted by: Garry | June 10, 2015, 07:57 PM   


In recognition of both the need and desire for teachers to be able to move from one state to another, reciprocity agreements are common.  In theory, teachers who have met the requirements in one state should be able to transport their certificate to a new state with relative ease.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.


Many states pile on additional requirements, from expensive testing to college courses.  Further complicating matters are the vast array of licenses from state to state.  Not only are grade levels and content areas subject to change, but different states have different types of licenses to distinguish different levels of expertise. Unfortunately, there’s not always a straightforward equivalence that the teacher can seek.


Once licensure is straightened out there’s the piles of paperwork (often filled out by hand instead of on the computer), processing fees, and varying timelines that makes portability difficult.  Then there are cases like that of Minnesota, where the requirements seem to be arbitrary and capricious, leaving teachers confused as to what they should actually do.


What’s the way forward?  Several interstate organizations have stepped up in recent years in an effort to simplify and unify the licensing process.  These groups seek to persuade licensing agencies to come to agreements about what is and isn’t needed for teacher licensing in order to ease the burdens on teachers.   Some have also floated the idea of a national license, with the beginning push already in place through National Board Certification.


What do you do in the meantime if you’re trying to move your license?  Here are a few tips:


  1. Start with the state department of education website.  If the state has a reciprocity agreement, they will state the qualifications on the department’s teacher licensure page.  While searching through materials, make sure you are looking at the page for “out-of-state” licenses.  Even if your license has lapsed, this is the route you want to go.
  2. If you’re unable to find a clear answer, consider calling or emailing the licensure office.  Before you call, gather all of your relevant materials.  This includes: your current licenses, your college transcripts (including evidence of student teaching), and any testing results that you may have.
  3. If you’re having trouble contacting the state office, you still have options.  Try your local district personnel or the staff of the education department at a local college.  These two groups will have helped hundreds of teachers obtain and maintain licenses. They will be able to answer many of your questions, including information that may not be publicized.


While this process may be difficult, keep in mind it’s possible to navigate. Are you an KANAAE member? Send us an email, and we’ll help you find who you need to speak with.


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