Washington, WA State Teacher Certification
Teachers in Washington State public schools are required to hold a valid teaching certificate. The basic requirements for teacher certification are:
- A bachelor’s or higher degree from a regionally accredited college/university.
- Certification in another state.
- Three years teaching experience at the P-12 level.
- Passing a basic skills test.
- Passing a separate endorsement test for each content area or grade level to be taught.
- Completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program at a regionally accredited college/university.
- Completion of an alternative pathway to certification.
If a school district cannot find enough teachers with regular certification, a teaching candidate who has not completed a degree or a Washington Teacher preparation program and who does not qualify for a regular teaching certificate in Washington State, may still be eligible to receive limited certification for full-time, part-time or substitute teaching.
Types of Certification
Temporary permits are valid for six months and are issued to teaching candidates after they submit the following:
- Completed application.
- Additional requested documentation.
- Fingerprint background check results.
- Temporary permits are issued while applications are being processed, so candidates can be employed in a school district or so they can finish tests needed to obtain their first teaching certificate in Washington.
Washington will issue a Residency Teacher Certificate to individuals who apply for a regular teaching certificate for the first time. To qualify, the applicants must verify that they have:
- Earned a bachelor’s or higher degree from a regionally accredited college/university.
- Completed a state-approved teacher preparation program at a regionally accredited college/university or a
state-approved Alternative Pathway Teacher Preparation Program.
- Taught for at least three years in a K-12 classroom.
- All residency certificates are valid for five years after the certificate holder completes two consecutive years of teaching and returns for a third year or signs a contract to teach for the third year in the same Washington school district.
Teachers who have a Residency Certificate must obtain a Professional Certificate before their residency certificate expires. The Professional Certificate is Washington’s second-tier teaching license and is typically awarded to teachers who have a Residency Certificate and who have received passing scores on their ProTeach Portfolio, an assessment tool that went into effect in 2010. (http://www.waproteach.org/)
Each candidate must have completed:
- Two consecutive years of successful teaching within a school district or in an approved private school in Washington.
- A Washington Professional Educator Standards Board-approved professional certificate program.
- A ProTeach Portfolio.
- A program in another state with an advanced level certification program comparable to that in Washington.
- A certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Experience.
- All candidates must have taken coursework in Abuse Issues, including information related to identification of, ways to deal with, effects of and responsibilities to report physical, emotional, sexual and substance abuse.
Washington has two testing requirements, the Basic Skills tests and the Content Area Endorsement Competency tests described below:
Washington Educator Skills Test – Endorsements (WEST-E)
Teachers must complete the WEST-E for each teacher endorsement competency they plan to teach. Endorsements are content or grade level specialty areas that an educator is certified to teach. For a list of endorsements that require completion of the WEST-E test, refer to “Endorsement Competencies for Teachers in Washington State.” (http://program.pesb.wa.gov/new-program/endorsement/list)
Washington Educator Skills Test – Basic (WEST-B)
Teachers must successfully complete subtests for reading, writing and mathematics.
In place of the above basic skills test, candidates from outside the state may use one of the following:
- This is the test used in California and Oregon.
- Praxis I (PPST)
- Teachers must complete subtests for reading, writing and mathematics and provide official/original score reports of passing scores set by Washington.
Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification
Programs are available for school districts to operate partnerships with teacher preparation programs and were developed to recruit educators to Washington schools and to allow out-of-state educators to teach in academic shortage areas, such as: English Language Learner, Sciences and Mathematics.
Another State’s Approved Teacher Preparation Program.
To be considered to teach in Washington, an educator must complete a state-approved college/university teacher preparation program based in a state that is not Washington.
Another State’s Certificate
To be considered to teach in Washington, an educator must hold full state certification/licensure from another state, plus three years of teaching experience.
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
Earning official recognition from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards qualifies a teacher for a Professional Teacher Certificate.
Substitute Teaching Certificate
Washington’s Substitute Certificate enables someone to substitute for any regular classroom teacher for up to 30 consecutive school days. The Substitute Certificate is valid for life and requires the same level of preparation as a regular teaching certificate. Substitutes must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college/university and complete a state-approved college/university teacher preparation program, including teaching methodology and an internship.
Limited Teaching Certificates
For teachers who do not qualify for a regular teaching certificate, Washington has some limited certificates available to meet the needs of employers. These limited contracted teaching certificates are:
The conditional certificate gives a school district the flexibility to hire someone who has expertise in an area, usually when they cannot find a certificated teacher in a specific endorsement area.
Emergency Teacher Certificate
The Emergency Certificate qualifies a teacher for employment, even if the candidate has not yet qualified for the Residency Certificate, if the school cannot find a regularly certificated teacher.
The Transitional Teaching Certificate enables a teacher, whose continuing teacher certificate has lapsed, to teach for 2 years while working on reinstatement of the continuing certificate.