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Steps to Become a High School Teacher in Washington State

High school teachers are tasked with preparing their students for what comes after high school. This article will focus on how you can become a high school teacher in the state of Washington.

High School Teachers in Washington: Overview

In order to teach in Washington State, educators must obtain a residency teacher certificate. The traditional route to certification is geared towards persons who would like to undertake their approved teacher preparation program as part of a bachelor's degree. The general requirements for the residency teacher certificate are summarized below.

Education/Experience Required Bachelor's degree and state-approved teacher preparation
Exam Requirements WEST-B
Certification Renewal Period 5 years
Requirements for Renewal 100 clock hours or
4 Professional Growth Plans or
NBPTS certification
Average Salary (2018) $67,550 (high school teachers in WA)*
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026) 8% (high school teachers nationally)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Candidates interested in teaching in the state of Washington must earn a minimum of a bachelor's degree. They must also enroll in a teacher preparation program from an approved institution, which bachelor's degree programs often include. Those wishing to teach high school will want to find a major geared towards a secondary education endorsement in their teaching subject.

For example, prospective students can complete a secondary education degree with concentrations like biology, English, or mathematics. Candidates can find a list of approved institutions on the website of the State of Washington Professional Educator Standards Board.

Step 2: Pass Required Exams

All candidates interested in obtaining a residency teacher certificate need to take and pass the WEST-B, WEST-E/ENS and edTPA exams. The WEST-B exam, also known as the Washington Educator Skills Test - Basic, includes three sub-assessments in reading, writing and mathematics. The WEST-E (Washington Educator Skills Test-Endorsement) is currently being transitioned to the National Evaluation Series (NES) for content assessments. The specific test that a candidate will need to take is dependent on the endorsement they would like to pursue. For example, the biology assessment falls to the NES while the history assessment remains a WEST-E assessment.

The edTPA offers a range of performance assessments that educators must take and pass to complete their endorsement in a particular subject area. At the secondary level, assessment areas are English language arts, history/social studies, mathematics, and science.

Step 3: Complete a Background Check

A candidate will also need to pass a background clearance. The background clearance entails a fingerprint check conducted through the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Results from the background check will be sent to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and logged on the online Educational Data System (EDS).

Step 4: Renew Your Certificate

The residency teacher certificate is valid for five years. A teacher seeking renewal must complete 100 clock hours or four professional growth plans (PGPs). Each PGP counts as 25 hours, and renewal candidates may combine clock hours with PGPs. Alternatively, certification from a professional organization such as the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) serves to renew the teaching certificate. Teachers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) must incorporate 15 hours of STEM into their clock hours or align at least one goal in a PGP to STEM integration (using at least two out of four STEM components).