Today on the blog, I welcome Kristin Cox. I was lucky to meet Kristin through my district’s National Board Candidate Support classes and work with Kristin as a candidate. I love talking about teaching (teacher nerd alert!) but there is something truly magical about talking with Kristin about her students. I’m proud to know this #amAZingNBCT and that she has thoughts to share on the important issue of teacher certification.
I recently read an article titled “Here’s a low-cost strategy that could help address teacher shortages” that discussed one solution to the teacher shortage in some states is greater certification reciprocity. I said, “YES! That! Exactly that!” The article brought to the surface all of the residual feelings I have about pursuing certification across state lines when I moved to Texas in 2006 and moved back to Arizona in 2013: excitement about starting something new, fear about my ability to actually be able to certify and frustration with the process.
Although I had nine years of experience as a special education teacher, when I moved to Texas I had to start from scratch for certification. I submitted everything for a “review of credentials” but Texas doesn’t have reciprocity with Arizona so I had to test in Texas. And each test required a fee. I had to take both Pedagogy & Professional Responsibilities and Special Education.
Silly me thought I would stay in Texas forever so I let my Arizona certification lapse. But life changes and in 2013 I wanted to move back home. I flew to Phoenix and stood in the Arizona Department of Education office. I showed them all of my paperwork from Texas and Arizona and they informed me that I would have to start over. So with 16 years of experience and current Texas certification I had to take Elementary Education I: English Language Arts, Social Studies and Elementary Education II: Mathematics, Science, Unified Arts as well as Special Education. On top of that, the special education licensing requirements had changed, so I had to gather additional documentation for proof that I had taught students with severe and multiple disabilities in order to re-certify in that specialized area, even though I had been fully certified when I taught it my first two years in Arizona.
I began to speak to others about my passion for this issue and one person brought up the objection that Arizona is already bleeding teachers and making licensure easier across state lines would mean losing more teachers to bordering, states while allowing teachers to continue to live in their Arizona communities. But this has been happening for years already. When I taught in Bullhead City in 2005-06 teachers were leaving to teach across the river because Clark County schools (Vegas and Laughlin) paid so much better, it was worth the hassle of re-certifying.
Another teacher brought up the fact that there are different rules for different states. While this is true, good teaching is good teaching! The tests I took were not about state rules, they were about what test was preferred by which state. The testing content was comparable and after teaching nine years and then sixteen years they were not difficult for me. Just a hoop, a very pricey hoop.
I would like us to consider this as one solution, reciprocity for National Board Certified Teachers. Contact the State School Board and inform them that this could be a path for accomplished teachers to come to our state. National Board Certification is a voluntary advanced professional certification for PreK-12 educators which identifies teaching excellence through a performance based, peer-reviewed assessment. To be eligible to pursue certification you must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, have completed three years of successful teaching, and hold a valid state teaching license for those three years of teaching. There are already National Board Certified Teachers in every state. These teachers are recognized as experts and should not have to jump through expensive hoops to be able to provide accomplished teaching in other states. Our student population is highly mobile, shouldn’t we as teachers be allowed to move also?
Kristin Cox is a National Board Certified (ENS-ECYA) Special Education Teacher with more than 20 years of experience working with children with disabilities in a variety of settings including self-contained classrooms, resource, inclusion, Deaf Education, itinerant and ECI birth to 3 programs. Kristin earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from Northern Arizona University and her Master’s Degree in Deaf Education from the University of Arizona. She currently teaches medically fragile students in 3-8 grades who use Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices for communication and academics.