Washington State Teacher Certification Requirements
Basic and advanced levels of certification are available to teachers in Washington. The first level has two testing requirements for achieving teacher certification. The second level requires additional testing coupled with training and education. Passing the tests allows teachers to become resident teachers and teach within the state.
Washington State Residency Teacher Certification
The first level of certification available to teachers in Washington is the Residency Teaching Certificate. A Residency Teaching Certificate is obtained after passing the basic and endorsement skills examinations. Additionally, teachers must have earned a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited university, as well as completed a teacher preparation program and an internship.
This level also allows one to become a substitute teacher for life in Washington. Substitutes can teach for up to 30 school days in a row.
Washington State Basic Skills Test Requirements
The first requirement needed to gain teaching certification in Washington state is to pass the Washington Educator Skills Test-Basic (WEST-B) examinations, which cover math, reading and writing. Teaching candidates that come from outside of the state of Washington can apply previously passed tests in lieu of taking the WEST-B. In California and Oregon, the CBEST is used. In other states, the Praxis or PPST is used.
Washington State Content Area Test Requirements
The second requirement necessary for achieving certification to teach in Washington is passing the Washington Educator Skill Test-Endorsement (WEST-E) exam. The WEST-E test focuses on a number of content areas required for teaching specific subjects. The entire list is much to long to list; however, most areas can be combined into groups. Those areas include:
- Artistic (dance, music, theater and visual arts)
- Science (biology, chemistry and other sciences)
- Education (languages, traffic safety, technology and special education)
An advanced level certification known as the professional certification can be achieved for Residency Teaching Certificate holders who also have two years of teaching experience with an approved state school. The professional certificate testing was created by the Professional Educator Standards Board. They use three standards and 12 criteria as part of their test measurements.
Once completed, candidates must also complete a character and fitness supplement, as well as clear their fingerprints with the Washington State Patrol and FBI (www.waproteach.org).
Teaching Certificate Exemptions
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) offers teaching certificate exemptions for those who have valid NBPTS certificates in a subject area or grade level similar to Washington state's endorsement requirement in that area (www.nbpts.org). In order to obtain NBPTS certification, applicants must meet certain requirements. The NBPTS requires that individuals have a bachelor's degree, a minimal of three years of teaching or counseling experience and a valid teaching license during those three or more years. For states where a teaching license is not required, then the individual must have taught in schools that were approved to operate within that state.
Achieving NBPTS certification allows an individual to maintain state teaching certification for ten years. The NBPTS certificate satisfies the professional certificate requirements.
Salary information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that in Washington state as of May 2012 median annual salaries for teachers ranged from $30,120 for teacher assistants to $61,160 for secondary career/technical education teachers.
While the BLS does not supply regional employment growth information for teachers, it does indicate that the 2010-2020 growth for elementary and middle teachers in the nation is expected to be 17%, while high school educators could see a seven percent increase.
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