New law streamlines credentialing of out-of-state teachers

New law streamlines credentialing of out-of-state teachers

(Calif.) Educators who earned their teaching credential in another state will be able to lead a classroom by demonstrating competency, rather than having to earn another degree or participate in redundant training under a bill signed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The bill, authored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, eliminates the requirement that effective educators trained in another state earn a master's degree or demonstrate 150 hours of professional development in order to earn a Clear Credential in California.

Supporters of the bill have said that by removing unnecessary barriers, California schools will be better able to recruit qualified out-of-state educators who can fill classroom vacancies.

The California School Boards Association–a sponsor of the bill–said it would more closely align California’s credentialing requirements for out-of-state teachers with its requirements for renewing in-state licenses.

“The bill eliminates the need for a master’s degree or logging 150 hours of professional development - superfluous credential requirements for teachers who have already completed credentialing requirements in another state,” Carlos Machado, legislative advocate for the group, said in an email. "AB 2285 helps make more experienced teachers available to fill the record-level vacancies in our schools and will help local education agencies focus resources on improving student outcomes."

The CSBA said the bill will extend similar relief already afforded California educators seeking to renew their credential to experienced teachers who have already completed their credentialing requirements in another state.

With districts throughout the country reporting teacher shortages in various subjects or at specific grade-levels, state lawmakers have sought to make it easier in recent years for schools to recruit and retain educators.

According to a report released last year by the Education Commission of the States, 11 states had passed legislation simplifying the process for out-of-state teachers to receive in-state credentials since the beginning of 2016. Two states—Arizona and Nevada—had gone a step further, and joined Mississippi, Florida and Missouri in adopting full reciprocity policies.

Teacher-credential-reciprocity agreements allow states to develop a path through which candidates who hold an out-of-state license to earn a license in a different state after meeting state-specific requirements.

Currently, about 30 states require out-of-state teachers to take extra coursework or training either before entering the classroom or within a certain number of years after doing so, according to the Education Commission report.

Meanwhile, about 40 states and the District of Columbia require out-of-state teachers to take assessments, close to 20 states and D.C. streamline the reciprocity process for out-of-state teachers who have advanced credentials, and nearly 30 states have special provisions for military spouses.

Proponents of increased credential reciprocity agreements argue that state-specific licensing requirements often prevent the movement of teachers from areas where there is a surplus of personnel with their credentials to areas where there may be a critical need.

The number of new teaching credentials issued in California reached a five-year high in 2016-17 with just over 16,500 issued—surpassing the 15,224 issued in 2012-13. Still, shortages remain in subjects including math, science, and bilingual and special education, according to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Under the state’s two-tier credential structure, a preliminary credential is the first document issued after an individual meets basic credential requirements, and a clear credential is issued when all credential requirements have been completed.

Now, out-of-state prepared teachers can earn a clear teaching credential without first being required to earn a master’s degree or complete 150 hours of professional development. In addition to reducing the time and effort it would take to earn a clear teaching credential, the bill also allows out-of-state prepared teachers seeking a secondary credential would be allowed to demonstrate English Language development knowledge either by earning a Crosscultural, Language, and Academic Development certificate or an English Learner Authorization.

Prior to its signing, the bill was supported by the Association of California School Administrators, California Charter Schools Association, California State PTA, and California Teachers Association, among other organizations. more