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State Licensing Exams for Teachers

 

State Licensing Exams for Teachers

Every state has its own approach to licensing teachers, but they all have a few things in common. Perhaps the principal thread running through every set of state teacher licensing requirements is the confusion they can generate not only for inquiring students, but for experienced teachers working in the state and for experienced educators transferring into the state as well. We'll review some of the basics here so that you have a structure in mind, at least, into which you can plug state requirements.

Standardized Exam Agencies

Some states have their own exams for various credentials and licenses, but most employ one or both of two major testing services. Educational Testing Service (ETS) offers and administers the Praxis I and Praxis II exams as tools to measure a teaching candidate's knowledge and skills. A number of Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) programs will ask program applicants to take and obtain an acceptable score in Praxis I as part of the application process. The test is a multiple choice exam in reading, writing and math and includes an essay. Praxis II tests a student's knowledge of the specific subject matter that has been the choice of specialization for the MAT program. Many states include Praxis II as one of the exams necessary for a provisional teaching credential upon completing the MAT degree.

Pearson Education Inc. provides a series of tests similar to those offered by ETS. In California, Pearson administers the CBEST, a baseline exam for anyone applying for a provisional teaching credential. It's a basic skills exam similar to Praxis I, necessary for any further steps into the teaching profession. If we continue to use California as an example, we'll find a series of subject specific exams for teachers seeking a secondary education credential, also administered by Pearson and offered under the title CSET.

Additional Steps

Some states including California require that elementary school teachers pass a Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA). This is in addition to the multiple-subjects teaching exam that is required of elementary school teachers applying for an initial teaching credential. If you obtained your teaching education overseas, you will be asked to present transcripts from your schools and those will be subject to an approval process. That is not entirely different than what happens to MAT or MAEd graduates who are seeking a teaching credential; most states ask that new applicants be formally recommended by the institution from which they graduated.

Then there is the entire process of alternative certification, an option that has been introduced in many states as a rush effort to fill empty teaching positions. There are alternative routes to teaching positions, teaching certification and in some cases, educational administration positions. The alternative options are often provisional licenses of a sort and serve to further complicate the remarkable maze of certificates and licenses that may be required of a teacher, administrator or educational professional of any sort.

The Basic Exam Lineup

If you are seeking licensure as a teacher, you'll begin with some sort of provisional credential or internship permit that allows you to work as a student teacher and then to work as a classroom teacher for two or three years while you are evaluated. At the end of that period you are issued a professional teacher's license.

If you are applying for a license as a middle school teacher, you may be asked to take a multiple-subject exam and in addition, exams on the two subject areas you have chosen to focus on. If you are applying for a high school teaching position, the exam lineup will include the subject-specific exam along with a possible addition in the form of an overall educational competency exam. Sometimes this test is given during the final stretches of the MAT program.

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State Licensing Exams for Teachers

Every state has its own approach to licensing teachers, but they all have a few things in common. Perhaps the principal thread running through every set of state teacher licensing requirements is the confusion they can generate not only for inquiring students, but for experienced teachers working in the state and for experienced educators transferring into the state as well. We'll review some of the basics here so that you have a structure in mind, at least, into which you can plug state requirements.

Standardized Exam Agencies

Some states have their own exams for various credentials and licenses, but most employ one or both of two major testing services.

Click to expand[+]

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Schools
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