An African American teacher with a group of elementary school children in a science classroom working on a robotics project. The woman and an 8 year old African American boy are smiling at the camera.

Perhaps you have graduated from your teacher preparation program and plan to move to another state to teach. Perhaps life circumstances require you to move states and you’re wondering whether your teacher certification will transfer to your new state. Teacher License Reciprocity refers to the transfer of licensure, or certification, in one state to another. In this post, we break down what reciprocity means for you if you wish to teach in another state.

Teacher License Reciprocity: Can I Use My Teacher Certification in Another State?

Yes, you can! This is called teacher license reciprocity, which refers to honoring a licensed professional’s certification in another state. However, this practice is regulated. Regulations differ by state. Additionally, states vary in their certification areas. For example, Ohio’s elementary education certificate includes grades PK-3 or grades 4-9. However, Virginia’s elementary education certificate includes grades Kindergarten-6. It is important to understand the requirements of the state to which you hope to transfer.

The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) has developed a system through which states agree to publicly share the requirements of each certification area. Through this system, states agree to accept other states’ teacher certification requirements. However, each state may require additional requirements such as passing scores on certification tests. States may differ in the required passing, or cut, scores.

This agreement does not mean each state agrees to full reciprocity. States identify their own requirements. This means that, even if Colorado accepts teachers from Massachusetts without additional requirements, Massachusetts may require additional testing or coursework for teachers licensed in Colorado or any other state. The agreement is designed to make certification easier for educators moving across states, but states also maintain existing requirements.

Factors to Consider When Transferring Your Teaching License

Only eight states offer full reciprocity. This means that, in the eight states below, if you hold a teaching license in any other state, you are automatically eligible for certification in one of these:

The remaining states and District of Columbia have policies in place that allow for teacher license reciprocity but may require you to take licensure tests, pass a background check, or other requirements. The Education Commission of the States provides a helpful guide to state requirements for reciprocity. Additionally, NC-SARA is a helpful resource for identifying teacher license reciprocity guidelines specifically for distance-learning, or online, preparation programs across states.

Typically, additional requirements fall into the following categories:

Certification Tests

States use certification tests to evaluate a teacher candidate’s understanding of content and pedagogical knowledge. Some states use the Praxis series, developed and administered by ETS. In contrast, others use the National Evaluation Series (NES) tests, developed and administered by Pearson. Still others may have tests specifically designed for their state, such as the Virginia Communications and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) or the Washington WEST-E Special Education test.

Check to determine whether the tests you took meet the requirements for your new state license. Have your scores expired? Does the state require a new version of the test you took for your original license, or do they require a different test for your license? You can find this information on your state’s department of education website.

Coursework

Your new state may require you to take additional coursework in your content area or in another specific area such as supporting English Language Learners or Dyslexia. For example, Virginia requires all teachers to complete a mandatory Dyslexia training, offered by the Virginia Department of Education. Even if you have met all of the certification testing and other requirements, you must complete this training before applying for a license in Virginia.

Some states may allow you to test out of coursework. For example, Connecticut allows teachers from other states to test into some certification areas that have been identified as “Shortage Areas” in lieu of completing additional coursework.

Experience and Effectiveness

Some states require incoming teacher candidates to demonstrate years of experience in the classroom or teaching effectiveness. For example, Alaska requires incoming teachers seeking a professional license to demonstrate two years of employment as a teacher. Washington D.C. requires teacher candidates from other states to provide evidence of effectiveness through performance ratings to qualify for a standard license. Be sure to gather the appropriate evidence of experience and effectiveness from your current or past school divisions or districts to submit as part of your application for certification in your new state.

Special Reciprocity

Typically, there are two areas in which states allow for “Special Reciprocity,” or exceptions to their general regulations around teacher licensure. These include teachers with advanced credentials and those who have served in the armed forces or are spouses of those who have served. For example, Nevada offers three different certification levels: Provisional, Standard, and Professional. For those who have advanced credentials such as a Master’s degree, Nevada will award a Professional certificate. Alabama expedites the application process for those who have served or their spouses.

Passage Preparation Can Help You Prepare to Teach in a New State

If your new state requires certification tests for teachers from other states, or allows you to substitute a passing test score for additional coursework, we can help! Passage Preparation™ offers courses to help you prepare for your teacher certification tests. Our courses are designed by educators for educators. Through our helpful advice, in-depth content, and opportunities to practice applying your knowledge, we help build your confidence for test day.

We offer courses aligned to tests required across the country.

Passage Preparation Map

We also offer courses across a variety of test series.

Praxis®

Foundations of Reading™

National Evaluation Series™

Ohio Assessments for Educators

TExES

And More!

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About the Author: Nathan Estel

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Nathan has over 20 years of experience in the educator preparation and certification space. In that time, Nathan has worked in a state education agency, leading the state’s efforts to recruit, prepare, license, and retain professional and support staff and on the national level for large companies providing assessment solutions for the education field.

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