With the passage of the No Childe Left Behind Act, Washington is committed to hiring only highly qualified teachers for its schools. There have been changes made to the Washington teacher certification programs to ensure that the teachers in the schools of the state have the credentials and competencies need to help the students achieve the outcomes of the mandated curriculum. At one time, when a teacher was certified in the state, this certificate was good for life. Since September 2000, there is a two-tiered system of teacher certification in place for both newly hired and veteran teachers.
The initial certificate for teaching in the Washington teacher certification program is called the Residency certificate. It is valid for a five-year period, during which time, teachers must take steps to meet the requirements of the Professional Teaching certificate at the end of the five-year period. If teachers have not met the requirements, they can renew the Residency certificate for an additional one or two years, provided they are enrolled in a college or university program that will give them advanced credentials in the form of another degree or diploma.
The second type of teacher certification in Washington is the Professional certificate. It.is an advanced certificate that is also valid for five years from the date of issue. In order to renew this certificate, each teacher must complete of 150 hours of continuing education to meet the teaching standards set out in the Approval Standard of Knowledge and Skills. A teacher can also meet these requirements by taking an advanced degree or certification courses that would qualify him/her as an administrator or a specialist in a field of teaching.
Teachers must also have endorsements on their teaching certificates. The Washington teacher certification programs include endorsements in the areas of early childhood education, special education, various content areas, elementary grades, secondary grades and liberal arts areas, such as dance, physical education, health and foreign language teaching. There is also a special area of teacher certification that applies to substitute teachers. This certificate is valid for life, but teachers must meet the same requirements for this certificate as they do for the Residency certificate.
To be eligible for any of the teaching certificates of the Washington teacher certification programs, a teacher must hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited university as well as completion of a teacher training program approved by the state. One major requirement of the teacher-training program is that it must contain a student teaching component so that student teachers get practical experience in a classroom. For those teachers moving to Washington with a teaching certificate and experience teaching in another state, they can be certified upon successful completion of the Washington Educator Standards exam. These teachers can also move from Residency certificate to a Professional certificate upon completion of either a National Teacher Certification program or have teacher training comparable to that offered in Washington teacher training facilities. Since Oregon is the only state deemed to have such training programs, it is quite possible that teachers from other states will have to take additional courses to qualify for an advanced teaching certificate in the state of Washington.