Washington D.C. Teacher Certification: How to Become a Licensed Teacher in the District of Columbia

Teaching License Updated July 21, 2015

If you are seriously considering teaching in the nation’s capital, you’ll want to know exactly what you need to do become a certified teacher in Washington, D.C. Follow the steps outlined to start your career with the District of Columbia Public Schools and enjoy a rewarding experience in one of the nation’s most historic and vibrant cities.

Requirements for certified teachers in Washington, D.C.

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is responsible for teaching certification in Washington, D.C. You must have a bachelor’s degree and have completed a teacher education program. While most teachers have at least one degree in education, you might have one in a subject area plus required courses in education.

Teachers in the District of Columbia specialize in early childhood, elementary, secondary, or special education, with training at the bachelor’s or master’s degree level.

If you’re a beginning teacher in any content area, you are required to pass the three PRAXIS Core Academic Skills for Educators exams for pre-professional skills. PRAXIS II content knowledge and pedagogy exams are required for these specific licensure areas: early childhood, elementary education, middle school education, secondary education, all grades, world languages, special education, and administrator/school leader. PRAXIS II requirements might be waived if you are granted license reciprocity.

You will also need to also pass a criminal background check to become licensed.

Washington, D.C. jobs for licensed teachers

The OSSE lists three license categories for certification in Washington, D.C. Here is a summary of the license types and requirements you must fulfill for each:

  1.  You’ve never been employed as a teacher in the District of Columbia public schools. This one-year license is non-renewable and must be requested by a D.C. local education agency. You need a major in the academic area of the teaching assignment, or you must have completed a state-approved teacher education program or have a valid out-of-state teaching license. You will need to complete D.C.’s testing requirements.

Regular I. The non-renewable two-year license applies if you can prove that you’re enrolled in a state-approved teacher education program and can verify your current employment as a D.C. teacher. You’ll need passing scores or their equivalents on all sections of the PRAXIS Core exam and for the PRAXIS II content knowledge exam in the academic area you’re teaching.

Regular II. This renewable four-year license requires you to successfully complete a state-approved teacher preparation program or complete specific content and teacher education requirements per an OSSE transcript review. You must also pass all parts of PRAXIS Core and the applicable PRAXIS II content and pedagogy exams appropriate for the license requested.

If you plan to teach a subject designated as a Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) by the U.S. Department of Education, you might be eligible for student loan deferment or cancellation. The following TSAs have been approved for D.C. for the 2015-2016 school year:

  • Art
  • Career and Technical Education
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Elementary Education
  • English as a Second Language
  • English Language Arts/Reading
  • Foreign Languages
  • Health and Physical Education
  • Home Economics
  • Mathematics
  • Military Science
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Special Education

A full and current list of TSAs for each state is available via the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.

Teaching license reciprocity in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. participates in a teaching license reciprocity agreement with the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). When you apply for a teaching certificate in one state using an existing license from another, the “destination state” is actually recognizing your credentials as verification that you are qualified to teach. You must still meet all requirements before you can teach there.

Fortunately, the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement for Educator Licensure streamlines this application process and expedites the goal of teaching in your new state. For more information, see Teaching License Reciprocity Explained.

Disclaimer: Licensing requirements are subject to change. Please visit your state board of education to check for recent revisions to teaching license requirements.

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