Tuesday, May 08, 2012


I have written about this before, about how NASDTEC supposedly has "reciprocity" agreements between states for teacher licensure, but the reality is teachers cannot simply exchange one state license for another in another state.

The problem is worse because of NCLB, and that makes it almost impossible for out-of-state teachers to get jobs in another state unless they are clear credentialed. In states like Oregon, out-of-state teachers are actively discouraged from getting licenses. I have a master's degree and six years of teaching experience in Nevada, but the only thing I can qualify for is a sub license. This is unacceptable. I intend to write the governor about this because why am I considered inferior to some 22-year-old ed grad in Oregon who has never taught a day in his or her life? That is outrageous.

This 2008 report, despite some Troops to Teachers trappings, really nails the problem head-on:

As the dew dries on the dawn of the 21st century, this mosaic has become increasingly
troublesome—for both teachers and the states that need them—for two primary reasons:
(1) the federal government has raised the stakes for states to ensure that all of their
teachers—even those coming from out of state—hold full in-state certification rather than
resort to emergency certification, and (2) the rise of alternative routes to certification and
other nontraditional preparation configurations has led to the development of yet more
regulations concerning teacher certification—regulations that often differ from state to
state and cause even greater ambiguity. The increasing use of the Internet to search for
both jobs and candidates has further made supporting interstate mobility a necessity,
especially for school leaders who want to cast as wide a net as possible for the best
candidates, and for teachers who need or want to move for any number of personal and
economic reasons.

The resulting jumble of policies and practices has led to the frustration of certification
specialists, the schools that need teachers, and teachers themselves.1 Reciprocity
agreements attempt to support interstate mobility by ensuring that teachers certified in
one state are eligible for certification in another, yet anecdotal stories among teachers
about bureaucratic hurdles abound, and there is some evidence that many teachers choose
to drop out of the profession altogether in the face of such hurdles. For example, Teacher
Attrition and Mobility: Results from the 2004–05 Teacher Follow-up Survey, a NationalCenter for Education Statistics (NCES) publication, indicated that of the 8 percent of all
public school teachers who left teaching the year before, more than one in ten reported
they left because they “changed residence” (Marvel, Lyter, Peltola, Strizek, Morton, &
Rowland, 2007). Although it is uncertain whether this new residence was in another state,
it still raises the question, why would a mere change in residence cause more than 30,000
teachers to stop being teachers? In just one year? Were there insurmountable barriers to
teacher mobility, or did those teachers simply not meet their new state’s requirements?
These questions are especially pertinent because, as another survey indicated, 10 percent
of all teachers (and 12 percent of alternate-route teachers) said that “employment
mobility” was among the top three reasons they became teachers in the first place
(Feistritzer, 2005).

And this:

Teachers with mobility experience who were negative about the process described it as
“frustrating,” “annoying,” “insulting,” “disappointing” “difficult,” “expensive,” “time
consuming” and “a pain in the butt.” Their complaints fell into two broad categories:
issues of (1) recertification—particularly testing and coursetaking requirements, as well
as problems of communication with certification officials at the state or district level—
and (2) employment issues—particularly the transfer of credit for work experience in
terms of salary and retirement benefits. The latter issues seemed to cause the most
frustration for respondents, but these are issues of employment over which NASDTEC
and its members have no authority so they necessarily fall outside the scope of this study.

Perhaps the biggest source of frustration for teachers moving to a new state in terms of
certification is that they perceive they are being treated by their new state as if they had
no experience or hard-earned skills and knowledge when they are required to take
additional classes or basic skills tests. As one teacher currently teaching in a Midwestern
state stated:

I think it is very discouraging for an experienced teacher who has a master’s
degree in education to be told they’re not qualified to teach in this state without
taking MORE [credit] hours at their own expense. It is just the state gouging us
for more money.

Another teacher in a southern state wrote, “It should have been easier to transfer exams,
etc. to [State X] since the state needed good teachers. Many experienced teachers were
treated as if there had been no certificate at all, and no job history.” Similarly, a teacher in
another Midwestern state said:

The extra courses that were required definitely did not make an impact on my
teaching. It was just having to jump through the hoops in order to teach in [State
X]. I think better arrangements can be made for those teachers like myself that are
qualified in one state but not another. It is a real turn-off the way it stands.

California is pretty damned bad for certification, but it isn't as bad with out-of-state teachers as Oregon. There is no state in the union worse than Oregon for this. It is an insult to treat experienced teachers with graduate degrees like they are completely unqualified.

I wonder if this California teacher ever got through all of the hoops. Believe me, Sara, I empathize:

After taking the CBEST, I still had not proved “subject matter competence.” For that, I would have to fill the apparent gaps in my transcript with five courses in linguistics, expository writing, adolescent literature and American literature — or pass something called the CSET, an Orwellian, five-hour sequence of four exams with some questions so obscure I would defy most PhDs to answer them. What is a modal verb? What’s an embedded appositional phrase? A grapheme? Can you pick the meaning of a poem from a list of answers a, b, c and d, none of which in any way capture the ineffable beauty of the poem itself?

By studying for weeks, I managed to pass the CSET. And by a miracle, I found a job teaching at a charter school in South L.A. as an emergency hire, or intern, through a program that gives a temporary credential to teachers willing to work in schools that would otherwise be hard to staff, while taking education classes at night.

To enroll in the intern program, I had to fill out more applications and then complete 40 hours of pre-service training in teaching English language learners, a course that in theory would have been very useful but in fact only entailed reading a stack of paperwork and writing essays I suspected would be stuck in my file unread. I also had to summarize what I’d learned in a page of sentences that began with “I used to think,” and ended with “but now I know … .” Whatever the actual purpose of this exercise, writing about my former state of ignorance felt deeply sinister, like some kind of forced confession by a totalitarian state.

They used to have the MSAT, which required people who were masters at Trivial Pursuit to pass them because the questions were so obscure. Mathematics questions were the worst because people cannot retain the higher level of math for any period of time. Oregon STILL has a variation of this test although it is ditching it for a different test this fall offered by Pearson. From the sound of this test, it sounds virtually identical to the NTE.

Update: It is the exact same test, but it is Pearson that is offering it.

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