Washington Teacher Certification

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The Professional Education and Certification Office, which is part of The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), is responsible for Washington teacher certification. Both are part of the Washington Department of Education. Since September of 2000, the State of Washington has offered a two-level certification system issuing the following types of teaching certificates:

  • Residency Certificate. This certificate is valid for five years. Holders of this certificate are expected to progress to a Professional Teacher Certificate within five years. The Residency certificate may be renewed once for two years if the holder is in college program leading to a Professional Teacher Certificate. It may be be renewed once for five years if the holder is not currently employed as a teacher.
  • Professional Certificate. This is Washington’s advanced level certificate. It is a renewable certificate that is valid for five years.

Washington certificates have endorsements that enable the holder to serve in a specific area or areas. Washington certificates may have more than one endorsement. Endorsements are available for:

  • All levels: bilingual education, designated arts: dance, designated arts: theatre arts, designated arts: music: choral, instrumental or general, designated arts: visual arts, designated world languages, English as a second language, health/fitness, library media, reading, and special education.
  • Early childhood: early childhood education, early childhood special education, and elementary education.
  • Middle level: middle level — humanities, and middle level — math/science.
  • Secondary level: designated science: biology, designated science: chemistry, designated science: earth science, designated science: physics, designated career and technical education: agriculture education, business education, family and consumer sciences education, marketing education, and technology education, English language arts, history, mathematics, science, social studies, and traffic safety.

Washington also issues a Substitute Teaching Certificate that is valid for life. The preparation and requirements to obtain this certificate are the same as a Resident Certificate.

The Process for Washington Teacher Certification

The process to obtain a Residency Certificate is relatively straightforward. To obtain a Residency Certificate, an individual must:

  • Earn a Bachelor’s degree or higher in an area of endorsement form a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program at a regionally accredited college or university. The program must include teaching methodology and internship.
  • Out of state candidates must pass a basic skills test, the Washington Educator Standards-Basic (WEST-B) within 12-months of first being issued a temporary permit. In-state candidates have to pass this test to be admitted to a teacher preparation program.

To move from a Residency Certificate to a Professional Teacher Certificate, an individual must:

  • Complete a State Board of Education approved Professional Certificate Program or complete such a program in a state that is deemed to have an advanced-level certification program that is comparable to Washington’s. Currently, only Oregon is deemed to have such a program. When the approved program has verified to the Superintendent of Public Instruction that the individual has completed the program, a Professional certificate will be issued. As an alternative, the individual may obtain a National Board of Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certificate. A Professional Certificate issued on the basis of NBPTS certification will be valid for five years or the term of the NBPTS certificate, whichever is greater.
  • Complete “provisional status” (two years of employment) with a school district.
  • Complete coursework on issues of abuse including information related to identification of physical, emotional, sexual, and substance abuse.

All individuals are required to submit to a state and national criminal background check prior to employment.

Certification for Teachers Certified in Other States

Individuals with certificates from other states should qualify for a Residency Certificate. The only exceptions are holders of Oregon Continuing Teaching License or NBPTS certificates. Such individuals qualify for a Washington Professional Teaching Certificate. Everyone else, must, at a minimum, register for a preassessment seminar. During this seminar, the college or university, in collaboration with a school district, will determine if an individual’s previous coursework and certification activities qualify for a Professional certificate. If the individual’s background is determined not to meet Washington’s requirements, the individual will need to proceed through a Professional Certificate Program to obtain their Professional Certificate.

Washington Certificate Renewal

Residency Certificates may be renewed once for two years under the following conditions:

  • The individual is making satisfactory progress in a State Board of Education approved Professional Certification Program.
  • The individual has been assessed for NBPTS certification.

A single five year renewal may be obtained for a Residency Certificate if the individual is not currently employed in teaching, provided that they have completed 15 quarter hours (10 semester hours) of study since the issuance of their certificate.

Professional Teaching Certificates may be renewed for five-year periods by completing 150 clock hours of professional development activities.

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