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How to Get a Teaching License in Washington DC

Learn the key steps to getting a teaching license in Washington DC.

Requirements

To apply for teacher licensing in Washington DC, you must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in addition to several other requirements. Your level of education and experience will determine which of the two teacher licenses you will need to apply for. You will either pursue an Initial Credential or a Standard Credential. In both cases, there are a few options one can take on the road to certification according to the Board of Education for Washington DC.

Initial Credential: There are three options for candidates seeking the initial credential, which is valid for three years and non-renewable. In all three cases, you will need to have completed all requirements in order to be eligible for certification.

Option A: You will have to be admitted into a state-approved teacher education program in the subject and grade level matching the teacher assignment, have earned passing scores on the DC required basic skills and content exams matching the teacher assignment and have been hired or be contracted as a regular teacher in a DC local education agency (LEA).

Option B: You must have valid full teacher credentials issued in another state, have passed comparable basic skills and content exams to that of DC and have successfully completed two years of full-time teaching.

Option C: You will have to be offered a position as a regular or contracted teacher in a DC local education agency, have passing scores for the DC required basic skills and content exams and have the school where you will be employed submit a request to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education on the candidate’s behalf seeking issuance of the Initial Credential in the subject and grade level of the teaching assignment.

Standard Credential: There are four options for candidates seeking the Standard Credential, which is valid for four years and is renewable. In all four cases, you will need to have completed all requirements in order to be eligible for certification.

Option A: You must have completed an approved teacher preparation program in the teaching subject and grade level matching the teaching assignment and have earned passing scores for the DC required basic skills and content exams OR have passed basic skills and content exams in another state comparable to DC’s required exams.

Option B: You must currently hold or have held a DC Initial Credential, present documentation verifying two years of full-time teaching experience in a DC LEA or receive an equivalent rating as measured by a summative evaluation, and receive passing scores on the DC required basic skills and content exams.

Option C: You must hold a valid teaching credential issued in another state, have earned passing scores on basic skills and content exams in another state, but that are comparable to the DC required basic skills and content exams, and present documentation verifying two years of full-time teaching experience in another state. Please note that this experience must be completed within the previous three years with the most recent year showing an effective or higher rating.

Option D: You must be employed as a full-time teacher in a DC LEA, present documentation verifying two years of full-time teaching experience in a DC LEA having earned an effective or equivalent rating as measured by a summative evaluation, and have achieved passing scores for the DC required basic skills and content exams.

Minimum Education Requirements for Washington DC Teachers

To receive the initial teacher credentials in DC, you must meet the district’s minimum education requirements. This means that you will need to have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited university, and, in some cases, need to have obtained the degree in education and in the subject area you wish to teach.

Student Teaching

In the District of Columbia, there are a few ways you can complete your student teaching requirement. You can either complete a student teacher program through the institution where you obtained your degree, or you can complete a teacher preparation program through a DC local education agency. There are no minimum number of hours required, however, you do need to provide proper documentation of the completed student teacher or teacher preparation program.

Pass Washington DC Certification Exams

Like all other states, DC requires that potential teaching candidates take and receive a qualifying score on basic skills and content exams, and, in some cases, pedagogy exams as well. There are instances where you may get the assessment requirements waived if you have taken and passed out-of-state basic skills and content exams comparable to that of the DC required basic skills and content exams.

Apply

DC is one of many states that aims to make the application process for potential teaching candidates simple and efficient. Teacher licenses are awarded by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). OSSE is a separate government agency from DC Public Schools that sets forth the licensure qualifications and manages the licensure process.

In order to apply for certification, make sure you meet the requirements before beginning your application. After completing the necessary exams for your respective certification, you will need to make sure to upload your exam score reports, a personal criminal history record report issued by the FBI, official education transcripts from your schools’ registrar’s office, a program verification form confirming admission and/or completion of your approved educator preparation program, verification of full-time experience, and any other proof of previous credentials or training from another state.

How Much Do Teachers in Washington DC Make?

One of the great things about teaching in DC is the generous salary, compensation and benefits package the state offers. DC offers a program for teachers called IMPACTplus, a ground-breaking performance-based compensation system for Washington Teachers Union (WTU) members. Teachers who take part in this program and who can demonstrate being “highly effective” can earn up to $25,000 in annual bonuses. Teachers in DC will also see increases in their base salary of up to $27,000. Read on to see comparable salaries of several types of teacher specialties.

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Job Growth for Teachers through 2026

Position Average Salary
Early Childhood Educator $34,290
Elementary School Teacher $72,880
Secondary School Teacher $61,160
Special Education Teacher $62,520
School Administrator $101,310
School Principal $92,510*
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics; *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

Specialty Certifications

The teacher certification process can seem a bit overwhelming at times. One way to clear up any confusion is to have a solid idea of the type of teacher credential, subject level and area of interest you wish to pursue. Below are a few of the most popular teaching specialties and endorsement requirements for certification. Please note that as of January 9, 2009, all potential teaching candidates must hold a valid Standard, Professional and/or Regular II teaching license in order to be eligible for an endorsement license.

Early Childhood Education

type-preschoolTo become certified as an early childhood educator, you must take and pass the minimum certification exams as well as take the Praxis II: Education of Young Children assessment. To meet highly qualified requirements outlined in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, early childhood license holders teaching grades K-3 must pass the Elementary Education: Content Knowledge (0014 or 5014) exam as well.

Elementary School Teacher

type-elementaryFor certification in elementary education, you must take two Praxis II assessments.

The first exam is the Praxis II: Content Knowledge (0014 or 5014) exam and the second is the Praxis II: Content Area Exercise (0012) exam. You must receive 145 or higher on the Content Knowledge exam and 148 or higher on the Content Area Exercises exam.

Secondary School Teacher

type-highschoolCertification in secondary education will vary greatly on the subject area you wish to teach. For example, if you seek to teach chemistry at the secondary level, you must meet the minimum education requirements and pass the basic skills and content exams, along with taking and passing the Praxis II: Content Knowledge (0245) exam in chemistry and the Praxis II: Physical Science: Pedagogy (0483) exam.

Substitute Teacher Certification

type-substituteUnfortunately, as of March, 2016, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education has discontinued the issuance and renewal of all substitute teacher credentials. In order to be considered for a substitute teaching assignment, candidates must hold a valid bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Candidates must also submit official transcripts, if they are selected for the position. Foreign transcripts must be evaluated by an accredited credential evaluation agency.

Physical Education (PE) Certification

type-physical-educationAccording to the Society of Health and Physical Educators, Washington DC requires certification and licensure of physical education teachers at the elementary, middle/secondary and high school levels. Elementary classroom teachers may not teach required elementary school PE classes. Candidates for physical education must also take the Praxis I exam in reading and receive a score of 172 or higher, the Praxis I exam in writing with a minimum score of 171 and the Praxis I exam in math with a score of 174 or higher.

Special Education Certification

type-special-educationYou will need to take and pass the minimum basic skills and content assessment exams as well as take the Praxis II: Core Knowledge & Applications (0354) exam focused on special education in order to be certified to teach special education in DC.

English as a Second Language Certification

type-tesolThere are a few options for those seeking certification as an English as a second language teacher. You will still have to take and pass the minimum education assessment exams but you will also have to take the Praxis II: English to Speakers of Other Languages (0361) exam, or you may take the Praxis II: Teaching English as a Second Language (0360) exam in lieu of the 0361 exam. Please keep in mind that you will need to receive a minimum score of 141 on the 0361 exam and a minimum score of 520 on the 0360 exam.

Certifications for School Administrators

type-principalAs with teacher certification in DC, candidates seeking administrator certification may follow two routes for obtaining licensure as an administrator. You will either apply for the Administrative Services: Initial Credential or the Administrative Services: Standard Credential.

Administrative Services Initial Credential: This credential authorizes the holder to provide regular and lead assistant principal administrative duties in schools for grades Pre-K-12. Please note that this credential is only valid for two-years and is nonrenewable. To be eligible for this credential, you must have completed your bachelor’s degree, completed a master’s degree or higher, or have completed a state-approved educator preparation program in school leadership and supervision. You must also have completed at least two years of full-time, Pre-K through 12th grade school-based teaching instructional leadership and/or pupil services experience.

Administrative Services Standard Credential: There are three different options for potential candidates seeking certification as an administrator. Keep in mind that this level of licensure is valid for four years and is renewable thereafter.

Option A: You must have earned your bachelor’s degree along with a master’s degree or higher, completed a state-approved educator preparation program in school leadership and supervision or hold a valid school administrator credential issued in another state, have completed at least four years of full-time Pre-K through 12th grade school-based instructional leadership, and finally have successfully passed the DC required school leadership exam.

Option B: You must have earned your bachelor’s degree along with a master’s degree or higher, completed a state-approved educator preparation program in school leadership and supervision or hold a valid school administrator credential issued in another state, have completed two-years of full-time Pre-K through 12th grade school-based teaching, instructional leadership and/or pupil services experience achieving an effective or equivalent rating as measured by a summative evaluation, and, finally, you must have successfully passed the DC required school leadership exam.

Option C: You must have earned a bachelor’s degree, hold a valid school administrator credential issued in another state, completed at least two years of full-time Pre-K through 12th grade school-based teaching, instructional leadership and/or pupil services experience achieving an effective or equivalent rating as measured by a summative evaluation, and have successfully passed the DC required school leadership exam.

Teaching Reciprocity Agreements in Washington DC

With one of the best schooling systems in the country and the amazing benefits that come with teaching, Washington DC is a great state to enter the field of education. If you are a current or former teacher in a school district outside of DC, you may be eligible for reciprocity. Below the table gives a detailed breakdown of the various reciprocity guidelines one may take in order to earn teacher licensure in DC.

Requirement Description
NASDTEC Interstate Agreement Yes, Washington DC is an active participant in the NASDTEC Interstate agreement.
State Grants Full Reciprocity No, however, Washington DC significantly limits barriers for out-of-state candidates through a variety of exemptions to licensure requirements.
Coursework Requirements There are no coursework requirements except for candidates who do not meet requirements for reciprocity, in which their credentials will be subject to a transcript analysis.
Test-out or Exemption No.
Assessment Requirements Yes, however not for all candidates. Out-of-state applicants who have not completed assessment exams are required to complete DC’s licensure exam for the missing area prior to issuance of a full DC teaching license/credential. Out-of-state candidates can be granted a waiver on DC’s testing requirements if they completed a state-approved teacher education licensure program comparable to that of DC license being sought, currently hold a full out-of-state level II credential without deficiencies, AND present official score reports documenting passing scores for comparable assessment exams. Washington DC will also waive pedagogy exam requirements for out-of-state applicants who hold a level II license and can submit appropriate documentation for completing at least three years of full-time teaching experience completed within the last seven years, excluding student teaching.
Different Requirements Based on Experience Yes, candidates must present documentation verifying two years within the past three years of successful full-time teaching.
Performance Requirements Yes, there are performance requirements for out-of-state candidates. Potential teaching candidates must present documentation verifying two years of full-time teaching experience in another state achieving an effective or equivalent rating as measured by a summative evaluation. This experience must be completed within the previous three years with the most recent year showing an effective rating or higher. Candidates who are unable to meet experience requirements must earn passing scores on the DC basic skills and content exams in order to obtain a Standard Credential.
Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials There are different reciprocity guidelines for those with advanced credentials. If candidates have passed the appropriate DC required assessment exams or comparable out-of-state assessment exams, hold a valid full-time teacher credential in another state and can provide proper documentation verifying two years of successful full-time teaching experience, then you are eligible for the Standard Credential. Out-of-state applicants who have not achieved a passing score on the Praxis II: Principles of Learning and Teaching exam or comparable assessment exams are eligible to receive the Initial Credential.
Information reported by the Education Commission of the States.

Alternate Teaching Certification

If you are seeking teacher certification for the first time but are not eligible for licensure through the traditional routes, you may want to consider alternative routes to teacher certification. These routes are usually reserved for those individuals seeking to work in education as a second career. Read on to learn more about a few of the many alternative teacher certification programs available for those looking to teach in DC.

Teach for America

Teach for America is a program that serves as an alternative route to teacher certification. The program aims to place qualified teachers in high-risk areas across the country. There are more than 56,000 alumni and corps members working toward education equality across a variety of sectors. In order to apply for the Teach for America-DC program, you must have obtained at minimum a bachelor’s degree, received a cumulative college GPA of 2.5 and be a U.S. citizen.

Unfortunately, Teach for America does not accept applicants on student, work or tourist visas. During the application process, you will be interviewed by Teach for America staff and complete your certification through the program with a highly-qualified mentor. Once you complete all necessary requirements and are accepted into the program, you will receive your DC-regional assignment and review details about where you will teach and your tentative subject and grade assignment.

Troops to Teachers

Troops to Teachers is a program that was established in the early 90s to assist transitioning service members and veterans into a career in teaching. The program provides counseling and referral services for participants to help them meet education and licensing requirements. Washington DC is an active participant in the Troops to Teachers program and offers incredible benefits, such as stipends or bonuses up to $10,000 for eligible participants. In order to apply, you must be a current or former member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Requirements vary, but program applications within three years after retirement or separation from service is required for many members. Learn more about the application process and requirements for the Troops to Teachers program by visiting their website.

Urban Teachers

If the previous alternative routes to certification do not apply to your level of education and experience, then you may consider the Urban Teachers program for teacher certification. Urban Teachers seeks to recruit strong and passionate individuals who are ready to do what it takes to become effective teachers for students in low-income communities. One of the major key points of separation from other alternative route programs is that with this program, you will earn a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.

During this time, you will receive one year of hands-on experience working as a co-teacher in an urban classroom in a DC local education agency under the guidance of an expert faculty member. You will also receive three years of one-on-one coaching as you develop your skills as a teacher. Once you complete the program, you will be able to start your career with guaranteed placement in a school and a valuable dual-certification in special education and the content area of your choice.

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