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Regional Credential Found To Remove Job Barriers for Relocating Teachers

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A regional teaching credential initiated by seven Northeastern states in 1989 has removed some of the professional barriers educators face when they relocate to neighboring states, a new study of the project contends.

More than 200 teachers in six New England states and New York have used the Northeast Regional Credential to obtain certification expeditiously when they moved to another state within the region, according to the report by the Regional Laboratory for Educational Improvement of the Northeast and Islands.

The credential functions somewhat like a temporary work permit, allowing teachers to become certified immediately provided that they fulfill any additional requirements in their new state within two years.

The regional laboratory, a private, nonprofit organization that assists state education agencies, began issuing the credential in December 1989 after it was formally adopted by the seven participating states--Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. (See Education Week, Aug. 2, 1989.)

In a recent survey of 389 of the 803 current N.R.C. holders, the laboratory found that 69 percent thought the credential increased their opportunities for employment. Sixty-eight percent of school officials in 35 school districts employing N.R.C holders said the credential enabled them to hire employees from a wider pool of qualified applicants.

Not Universally Accepted

The laboratory's report also noted, however, that the credential is not universally accepted by school-district officials throughout the Northeast. About one-third of the teachers surveyed said the credential did not expand their employment opportunities, because district administrators either were not familiar with the N.R.C. or preferred to hire educators already certified to teach in their state.

Not all of the Northeastern states, moreover, have opted to participate fully in the program. Maine allows credential holders only one year to complete additional state requirements.

And while Connecticut issues the N.R.C. to its own teachers, it only accepts the credential from out-of-state teachers in one field, vocational education.

Connecticut officials view their state's accreditation requirements as more rigorous than those of its neighbors, according to Dinoo N. Dastur, the bureau chief for teacher certification and accreditation.

The Northeast regional laboratory currently issues credentials in 25 fields, including elementary education, English, mathematics, and the sciences.

The credential is not offered in history or social studies, however, because of broader variations in state requirements for educators in those subjects.

Expansion Plans

The Northeast regional laboratory hopes to expand the program, adding regional credentials in administration and special education by the fall of 1994.

In addition, the idea appears to be taking root in other parts of the country. The Northwest and North Central regional education labs are currently considering similar cross-state credentials.

Four Midwestern states--Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas--already have an "informal gentleperson's agreement'' to accept each other's credential requirements, according to Charles C. Mackey Jr., the president of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification.

The N.R.C. project also is one element of a broader initiative by the Northeast laboratory to create a "common market'' that would give educators in the region greater professional mobility.

Shift in Reform Strategies

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Other components include the development of a computer data base on future employment trends and a pension-portability plan.

"I think generally there's a growing interest [in the credential] because of the shift in reform strategies from simply trying to reform curriculum to a much greater concern for professional development,'' said Tom Olsen, the director of the education-profession program at the Northwest Regional Education Laboratory.

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