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Special Education Teacher Certification in Washington State

Persons may become certified special education teachers if they satisfy the academic and assessment requirements that have been set by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

How to Become a Certified Special Education Teacher in Washington State

In Washington State, the traditional certificate that is issued to first-time teachers is the Residency Teacher Certificate. To obtain this certificate, the candidate would have to complete an approved teacher preparation program and pass the relevant assessments. The general requirements for the Residency Teacher Certificate are summarized in the table below.

Education/Experience Required Bachelor's degree
Exam Requirements WEST-B
WEST-E
edTPA
Certification Renewal Period Five years
Requirements for Renewal 100 professional development clock hours
Course completion
Mean Salary (2018)$63,400 (preschool special education teachers in WA)
$65,400 (kindergarten and elementary special education teachers in WA)
$64,220 (middle school special education teachers in WA)
$66,400 (high school special education teachers in WA)*
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026) 8% (special education teachers nationally)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

General Academic Requirements for Special Education Certification

In order to attain a Residency Teacher Certificate in the area of special education, the prospective educator would need to earn at least a bachelor's degree in an approved teacher education program that is specific to an area of special education. This degree would need to be earned from an accredited college or university.

Testing Requirements

Prospective educators must take the Washington Educator Skills Test (WEST)-B basic skills assessment when entering the teacher education program they have chosen. The WEST-E content assessment must also be passed for the Residency Teacher Certificate to be issued and for special education teachers, there is a specific special education assessment. The prospective special education teacher must also pass an edTPA Special Education subject area assessment. All tests are computer-based and are available at approved locations nationwide.

Background Check

A background check is required for everyone who is interested in being an educator. This process includes having the applicant's fingerprints collected and getting a criminal history check done by the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The background check results will be sent directly to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) so the information can be processed and entered into the online Educator Data System (EDS). If the background check reveals any criminal offenses, the results will be returned to the WSP and FBI after they have been processed. If the applicant feels the information is incomplete or inaccurate, they may send a written challenge to the FBI at:

FBI CJIS Division

Attention: Correspondence Group

1000 Custer Hollow Road

Clarksburg, WV 26306

Application Process

To initiate the application for a Residency Teacher Certificate, applicants must receive a recommendation for certification from the college or university where they earned their degrees. Once this recommendation has been received, the applicant may apply for the certificate through the E-certification online portal on the OSPI website. The applicant will need a valid email address and a password to access this site. Applicants will be guided to submit the relevant information and pay the $74 application fee when using the portal.

Certificate Information

The Residency Teacher Certificate is valid for five years and can be renewed by completing the issues of abuse course as well as 100 professional development clock hours. An educator with a Residency Teacher Certificate may also upgrade to a Professional Certificate. This can be done if the educator completes the Professional Certificate Assessment (ProTeach), earns a certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or completes an out-of-state program that has been approved by the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB).