Teacher Mobility Draws Concerns and Solutions

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teacher in front of a classroom of students reads a book

By Mary Elizabeth Robertson, The Council of State Governments

Teacher licensure and mobility across state lines continues to be a much needed and discussed topic among state leaders. The Council of State Governments (CSG) propels that discussion with a panelist of six experts on the issue of teaching licensure across the states.

“Licensure in education is supposed to ensure safety for consumers,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, President and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute. “It leverages the right kind of preparation and training.”

Darling-Hammond points to state reciprocity for other industries such as physicians and attorneys through the use of the multi-state bar exam and medical licensing exam.

“There has to be some trust across states about the nature of the training people will receive covers the areas of knowledge and skills that are needed and desired in that state,” she said.

Sydnee Dickson, Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction discussed the purpose of improved mobility standards and how they benefit students.

“We know having an experienced teacher makes a difference,” Dickson said. “Especially for our most vulnerable students.”

Dickson said in Utah, the mobility focus centers on employment and less on licensure

“What do you bring to the table as a teacher and how can you demonstrate that,” she said.

Kim Lopez, educator and military spouse, shared the struggles of navigating licensures in each state.

“A high percentage of military spouses are licensed teachers,” she said.

Lopez pointed to the difficulty of taking different national exams, along with additional coursework, while maintaining employment.

When Lopez moved from Utah to Arizona this summer, she was excited for the ease of reciprocity between states. While her paperwork was easily transferred, she learned that she had one year to complete a course on the history of Arizona and a United States Constitution course. This proved to be too much between family obligations, the pandemic and the stress of moving.

“While this was a much easier process than I found in the past, it still was met with a roadblock,” she said. “I had just completed a move during a pandemic, I have two kids that I knew were going to be doing online learning at home, I was potentially going to have a new full-time job, and adding on coursework that was going to take a lot of my time and quite frankly cost quite a bit…created the decision to put a hold on attempting that re-licensure in Arizona.”

Interstate Compacts could be a solution for Lopez and thousands of others.

“What do compacts do is offer a voluntary expedited pathway to licensure for those that qualify under the agreed upon guidelines that are written within the compact,” said Sen. Carol Blood, Nebraska State Legislature.  “This language must be consistent for every state that joins the compact.”

Organizations like the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC)have worked to create interstate compacts that best fit the needs of the state and educator.

“The interstate agreement has been around a long time,” Phillip S. Rogers, Executive Director of NASDTEC said. “The agreement is a high-level consensus on the minimum requirements of licensure of professional educators and documents the additional requirements imposed by each jurisdiction.”

Military spouse licensure is a goal to improve the quality of life for the United States Department of Defense.

“I have the honor of announcing that a group of lead education organizations have agreed to develop a compact and move forward on this effort,” said Marcus J. Beauregard, Director, Defense-State Liaison Office, U.S. Department of Defense. 

You can watch this webinar, Teacher Licensure: The Urgency of Interstate Portability, here.

To learn more about the topic, register to attend the future webinars in this free series:

Barriers and Challenges to Teacher Mobility – Oct. 19, 3-4 p.m. ET – Register

Interstate Compacts: Lessons from Other Professions – Nov. 17, 3:30-4:30 p.m. ET – Register

Building Lasting Solutions – Dec. 10, 3-4 p.m. ET – Register