Barriers to online teaching across state lines: part 2—a possible solution

The Keeping Pace research team is developing the first of a new set of policy briefs that we will be releasing in the coming months. These will represent the first Keeping Pace research that is released as a document separate from the annual report or the website. The first of these examines issues related to 21st century teachers who wish to reach students in multiple states. This is the second in a series of three posts, the first one here, based on the draft report. An earlier post discussed the policy brief we are creating that explores the challenges faced by online teachers who are reaching students who reside in multiple states. A potential solution exists that would allow licensed teachers to more easily teach in multiple states, while not just preserving teaching quality but in fact augmenting online teacher skills. States that take this approach would create an online teacher specialization, which would allow online teachers to work in the state’s online schools and courses, if they meet either of two licensing paths. The first path is the current option used by online teachers in most states.

Path 1 (current option)

Teachers have a teaching license and associated grade-specific or content-specific certifications in each state in which they teach.


Path 2

Teachers meet both of the following requirements:

A. They demonstrate that they are licensed and highly qualified in any state, and

B. They demonstrate expertise in teaching online via either of two methods:

i) They have taken and passed a professional development course in teaching online by an approved provider, which includes a course specific to teaching in an online environment offered by universities, regional education agencies, or national providers of accredited programs, or

ii) They have successfully taught in an accredited online program for at least three years.

The creation of an online teacher specialization raises the bar for teachers who are licensed in another state by requiring that these teachers must demonstrate that they have taken and passed a professional development course that meets state requirements, or confirm they have successfully taught in an accredited online program.

This solution preserves the approach to teaching online used by many individual school districts without imposing any new mandates. Licensed teachers in a district may shift to teaching online with no additional state-created requirements.

All highly-qualified, licensed teachers who complete Path 2 would receive a specialization in online teaching. Teachers with this specialization would be authorized to teach any student in any of the states that have approved the specialization.

We welcome your thoughts on all blog posts, but especially on this series as the policy brief is still in development. Please comment below or email me at