University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Arkansas Teacher Licensure and Reciprocity Laws

In AR Legislature on March 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm

On Thursday, the House Committee on Education considered and passed a bill that would amend Arkansas’ Teacher licensure and reciprocity laws. There are a substantial changes that would occur if this bill, sponsored by Representative Hobbs,  were passed. Here are a few:

  • First of all, the bill enables teachers licensed in other states to become teachers in Arkansas much more easily.
  • It also grants Teach for America corp members a license after their two year service with TFA without additional requirements through the Non-Traditional Licensure Program.
  • It opens up an easier method for teachers with three years of experience in specific content areas to undergo a non-traditional licensure program.

Proponents of this bill argue that these changes would bring Arkansas to a level of openness in teacher licensure that already exists in many other states.

From our angle viewing the webcast, the hearing before the House Committee was a bit controversial. Opponents of the bill who testified included Dr. Kimbrell of the Department of Education and several Deans of various Colleges of Education around the state of Arkansas (in which most current teachers are trained).  Dr. Kimbrell expressed support of the changes as they related to TFA, but had concerns that the bill would not allow for enough quality from the Department. 

On the flip side, individuals who spoke on behalf of the bill included Richard Abernathy, Executive Director of the AAEA, Scott Shirey, KIPP Delta, and Joyce Vault, Arkansas’ Superintendent of the Year.  Richard Abernathy testified that the amendments in the bill would enable Superintendents to more freedom in who they hire, and thus allow them to put the most qualified teachers in the classroom. Scott Shirey’s discussed one of his teachers who grew up in the Delta, graduated from UAPB, and wanted to give back to his community by teaching (despite the fact that he did not have a degree in education).  After failing to secure a job in numerous traditional traditional public schools, he was hired by KIPP Delta due to its waivers, and has since done a wonderful job. Likewise, Joyce Vault testified to the quality of teaching these non-traditional students bring to her school district.

The bill passed with some opposition on a voice vote. It now moves on through the system. We will keep you posted on its status.

We would be interested in hearing your comments on removing the barriers to licensure in Arkansas.

  1. I would like to see Arkansas not require a teaching license for school counselors. Most states are going to a non-instructional license requirement. Since Arkansas has a critical shortage of school counselors removing the teaching license requirement would allow more qualified counselors to become school counselors.

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