Topic: Teacher Licensure and Certification


Teacher Licensure and Certification

Teacher licensure and certification are core pieces of a comprehensive strategy for developing the educator workforce. Strong licensure and certification systems should scaffold up based on teachers’ demonstrated skills, competencies, and impact — and align with the pay and ongoing support they receive.

Learn more about what strong teacher licensure systems look like

  • Base licensure structures on more than academic degrees, tests, and years of experience. Consider ways to more accurately identify teachers’ skills, growth and impact with students — for example, incorporating classroom observations and a variety of assessments.
  • Create a tiered licensure system that teachers can advance through as they grow their skills and positive impact with students. Set multiple entry points for each level.
  • For strong teachers, connect higher tiers of the licensure system to various options for advanced roles that allow them to grow their skills, support their colleagues and earn more money.
  • Consider how the licensure system is part of a connected, congruent policy structure that attracts, prepares, retains and grows strong teachers.

How SREB supports states with teacher licensure and certification

SREB’s Teacher Preparation Commission met to develop practical and effective recommendations. One key recommendation advises states to require a common set of criteria for initial licensure, regardless of a teacher’s preparation route.  Read more about the Commission’s recommendations by visiting our Teacher Preparation Commission page.

SREB’s Education Human Capital Roundtables offer proposals for states on complex decisions — such as reciprocity among states, alternative pathways to certification, and the coursework, clinical experience and exams required for attaining certification. Learn more about this work and how to reach out for assistance by visiting our Education Human Capital Roundtables page.

Publication April 2022 | 16 pages
report cover

A Blueprint to Solve Teacher Shortages

Imagine a world where more great people enter teaching, stay in the profession, and get better and better. How do we achieve this?

This report offers insight on how to elevate the profession by renovating policies that affect the teacher workforce. With lessons from SREB states that have forged comprehensive plans, it covers pathways and preparation, licensing, mentoring and support, and compensation structures. The report also includes data on shortages, what causes them and how they hurt our economy.


Blog post Megan Boren

A Long-Term Solution to Teacher Shortages
Finding the Root of the Problem

We’ve all heard the saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” When it comes to state policies affecting the teacher workforce, it’s important to see both.  

Teachers make life-long impressions on thousands of students — over 3,000 in an average career — and help raise every generation to understand the world and become productive, well-rounded citizens.

Publication March 20203 pages

State Policy Flexibilities in Response to COVID-19
Avoid Failing the Next Cohort of New Teachers

With colleges and schools moving online to curb the spread of COVID-19, state leaders will need to act quickly to ensure that policies do not prevent student-teachers from graduating and becoming licensed to teach in the fall. This brief includes immediate and longer-term recommendations to prevent pandemic closures from escalating the teacher shortage crisis.


Publication November 20194 pages

State Efforts to Promote Teacher Leadership

In the face of teacher shortages, state leaders have an opportunity to explore ways of remaking the teaching profession from the inside out, rather than relying solely on short-term solutions. One strategy: teacher leadership and mentorship initiatives. This brief highlights how education leaders in six states used three levers ─ certification, pay and recognition ─ to identify and retain teacher leaders.


Publication October 20194 pages

Alternative Certification Pathways in SREB States
Summary of State Requirements

All SREB states provide alternative routes to teacher certification, however the strategies for approving nontraditional pathways vary from state to state. This brief provides 10 examples of alternative certification programs in eight SREB states and includes recommendations policymakers should consider when designing or approving alternative certification programs.


Publication September 2019 | 4 pages

Licensure Reciprocity in SREB States
Summary of State Requirements

This brief describes state policies for granting teaching licenses to educators from other states. Some policies are common across many states, but requirements vary significantly from state to state based on the experience level of the teacher. Clarifying requirements for recent graduates of out-of-state teacher preparation programs could improve interstate transfer.


Blog post Matthew Smith, SREB Research Associate

Getting the Balance Right
Reconsidering the Mix of Teacher Licensure Measures

The SREB Teacher Preparation Commission called on state leaders to adopt practice-based assessments. These tests assess candidates’ readiness to lead a classroom and to apply lessons learned during coursework and clinical experiences.

Practice-based assessments have diagnostic value, meaning they provide performance data that educator preparation programs can use to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement. State agencies could use the assessment data to determine how they will provide technical assistance to preparation programs.