Preschool Teacher Certification in Maryland

Maryland offers a number of ways for educators to become certified. This article focuses on how to become a certified preschool teacher, including education and exam requirements. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Become a Certified Preschool Teacher in Maryland

The Maryland State Department of Education offers three main certificates for educators. These are the Professional Eligibility Certificate (PEC), Standard Professional Certificate (SPC) I & II, and Advanced Professional Certificate (APC). Someone interested in becoming a preschool teacher will need to start with initial certification, earning either the PEC or SPC I depending on their employment status. The general criteria for obtaining initial certification are summarized in the table below.

Education/Experience Required Bachelor's degree and approved educator preparation program
Exam Requirements Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators;
Praxis Early Childhood Education;
Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood
Certification Renewal Period Five years
Requirements for Renewal Completion of a minimum of six semester hours
Mean Salary (2018) $38,440 (preschool in MD)*
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026) 10% (preschool teachers nationally)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

In order to qualify for the initial certificate, the interested candidate must have a bachelor's degree and complete an educator preparation program approved by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). Degree programs will generally be offered in early childhood education, which covers preschool through grade 3. Internships and field experiences in live classrooms are a fundamental requirement. In Maryland, early childhood educators must also complete a minimum of 12 semester hours of reading coursework. If the candidate earns a non-education degree that does not include teacher preparation, they may complete an approved educator program to qualify.

Exam Requirements

The candidate must take the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core) tests, which cover the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. This is usually an admissions requirement for educator preparation programs. Persons who are interested in teaching at the preschool level must also take the Praxis Early Childhood Education and Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood assessments. Marking the examination so that Praxis sends the results to the MSDE is not sufficient. Candidates are required to submit their exam results to the MSDE directly at the time of their application for certification.

Background Clearance

The state of Maryland requires that all persons who wish to be employed in a position that interacts with children undergo and pass a background check. This background check includes the collection and processing of the candidate's fingerprints in order to obtain their criminal history. Fingerprinting is done at approved vendor locations, and the candidate will be informed of applicable locations when the process has been initiated with the Maryland State Department of Education.

Certificate Information

Completing all aforementioned requirements results in the Professional Eligibility Certificate. Once the interested candidate is employed at a Maryland public school, they will be granted an SPC I, which is valid for five years. This certificate may be renewed once to enable the educator to accomplish the semester hours and reading coursework needed to upgrade to the Standard Professional Certificate II. The one-time renewal requires the completion of six semester hours of credit; the candidate must send a cover lever and transcripts to the MSDE. If employed, the candidate's school will process this renewal.

Preschool teachers are expected to complete 12 semester hours of approved reading coursework in order to renew their certification at any level. It is possible to test out of the reading coursework for renewal with a passing score on the Praxis II Teaching Reading: Elementary Education.

Upgrading Certification

Upgrading to the SPC II requires completing at least three satisfactory teaching years and six credit hours. Teachers must also prepare a plan to upgrade to the Advanced Professional Certificate. The SPC II is valid for five years and cannot be renewed. Rather, the candidate is expected to work toward the Advanced Professional Certificate, which requires a graduate degree in education, 36 credit hours, or National Board Certification and 12 credit hours.

Application Process

In order to apply for certification as a preschool teacher, interested candidates must first create an account from the online portal on the MSDE website. They may then complete an application and submit it with copies of all the relevant documents in a package addressed to the MSDE Certification Department. These documents will include official transcripts of academic achievements as well as relevant exam results. Electronic submission is an option. There is a US$10 application fee which can be paid via cashier's check, certified check, money order or credit card. The fee can be paid online but there will be a $1.50 service charge.

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