Reformed MN Teacher Licensing System Now in Effect

Minnesota’s new teacher licensure reforms bring effective improvements to a previously badly broken and complex licensing system.

Finally, after a seven-year effort, the state’s teacher licensing system has been overhauled with the adoption of a four-tiered licensure system that took effect October 27, as reported by the Pioneer Press.

What were the problems?

When I moved back to Minnesota in 2017 to accept my current position at American Experiment, I had (and still have) a valid teaching license issued by the state of Arizona. I spent two years in a Teacher in Residence program while teaching full time.

But in order to teach in Minnesota, I would have had to redo practically all my coursework despite my qualifications as an education professional. Other out-of-state educators faced similar roadblocks in their teaching careers.

A Minnesota teaching license has long been considered the “gold standard” of the Midwest. But the system for awarding that license was seen as convoluted and unfair as a growing number of educators were trained in alternative ways or came to Minnesota from other states.

How were they fixed?

The Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) was created to handle all teacher licensure responsibilities and clarify and streamline the licensing process.

State lawmakers made two big changes. They put all responsibility for license standards and decisions under one new agency—the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board, or PELSB. The board will oversee the new four-tiered licensing system, which allows educators who lack credentials to be licensed while they work to meet state standards.

Also, the new system gives school districts flexibility when hiring some teachers, including teachers of color and hard-to-find math, science and special-education teachers.

Providing educators with alternative pathways to teacher certification is a long overdue step toward solving the complicated teacher shortage hitting Minnesota.