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7 Northeastern States Near Adoption Of a 'Common Market' for Educators

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Seven Northeastern states are moving toward final approval of a regional credential that would enable educators licensed in one state to practice in another state for up to two years before meeting the latter's licensing requirements.

The credential is seen as the first step toward a "Northeast Common Market" for educators that supporters say would help alleviate teacher shortages and increase job opportunities throughout the region.

The project was launched in May 1988 by the Regional Laboratory for Educational Improvement of the Northeast and Islands, located in Andover, Mass. It was begun at the request of the education commissioners of the New England states and New York.

The commissioners are expected to approve creation of the credential at a December meeting in Boston. Certificates would become available in January, said Donn McCafferty, chief of educational resources for the Vermont education department.

Mr. McCafferty described the regional credential as a "work permit" that would make it easier for teachers and administrators to move from state to state and continue working while they fulfilled requirements for state certification.

The regional credential would be issued upon request to individuals who already had received initial state certification.

A mathematics instructor licensed to teach in Vermont, for example, could move to New York and teach under the Northeast Regional Credential for two years.

During that period, the teacher would have time to prepare to become certified in New York.

Educators could receive the credential, issued for up to two years, only once. Connecticut and Maine will issue it for only one year.

Aiding Mobility

Although the credential is designed to give beginning teachers greater mobility, it also would be available to experienced teachers and administrators, said Charles Mackey, supervisor of teacher education for the New York education department.

Teachers are becoming increasingly mobile, he noted. "It is our belief that we should facilitate, rather than put obstacles in the way of these individuals," he said.

A report prepared on the topic by the regional lab argued that the benefits of the credential would include:

Creation of a larger hiring pool, easing shortages in specific areas.

Increased employment opportunities for graduates of state-approved institutions in the region.

Greater uniformity in certification requirements across states over time, and greater regional collaboration among colleges and universities.

Establishment of a clearing8house to assist in job placement for teachers in the region.

Adoption of uniform regional testing requirements.

Officials said some states may have to enact legislation to implement the regional credential or change language in their regulations to allow a person who holds such a credential to be hired.

But the participation of the seven states in the Interstate Certification Compact--under which they recognize teacher-preparation requirements in other states as a basis for licensure--already has provided the necessary framework for the regional credential, Mr. Mackey said.

The working group that drafted guidelines for the regional credential now plans to focus on other issues affecting the mobility of educators, he noted, including pension portability and the transfer of tenure. The group also plans to look at program-approval standards and the certification of school administrators and supervisors.

The creation of a "common market" for educators could offer a powerful incentive for states to improve teacher salaries, retirement and sick-leave policies, and working conditions, a policy paper prepared by the regional laboratory maintained.

The states participating in the project are New York, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

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