Becoming certified as an elementary teacher in Washington, D.C. is a rewarding journey that will prepare and test you for your future career in the classroom. By receiving the proper education and experience, as well as passing all required examinations, you will be on the road to becoming a licensed elementary teacher.

Step 1 Enroll in a Teacher Education Program.  Washington, D.C. requires that you earn a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to qualify for certification. Many schools offer teacher preparatory programs where you can major in education (a list of programs in Washington, D.C. can be found on the Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s website.

Enrolling in one of these accredited programs will ensure that your education includes the 60 credit hours of coursework addressing elementary learners and the teaching profession. Your coursework will prepare you for both the content you will teach and strategies on how to become an effective teacher in a diverse classroom of learners.

Step 2 Get a criminal history background check. A background check is now required when you submit your application to become certified to teach in Washington, D.C.. The background check will certify that you have nothing in your past criminal records that may hinder you from instructing or working with students.

To obtain your background check, you must:

  1. Request and fill out the Applicant Information Form found on the FBI’s website.
  2. Have your fingerprints taken at an approved facility. A list is provided by the OSSE’s website.
  3. Indicate that the background check should be mailed to you on the Applicant Information Form and then send it to the FBI with a cashier’s check or money order of $18 to:
    FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
    1000 Custer Hollow Road
    Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306
  4. Include the sealed envelope with your results with your application for certification.

Each fingerprinting location may charge a fee for the fingerprinting service. Background checks can typically take 20 to 30 days, so you should plan for the results arrival with the timing of when you plan on applying for your certification.

Step 3 Take the required examinations. Washington, D.C. requires that you, as a future teacher, take several examinations to prove that you are competent in a variety of core subject areas, as well as in your elementary education endorsement area. These exams are administered through the Education Testing Service (ETS). On the ETS website, you can register for the exam and pay all exam fees. Once your assessments have been taken, your scores will be sent directly to the licensure offices.

Praxis Core Academic Series for Educators

The Core Series examinations are required for all level and subject area teachers. The five hour, $135 exam covers three main subject areas: Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. You will be tested on your ability to solve problems, critically think, and answer constructed questions. To pass, you must score a 156 in Reading, 162 in Writing, and 150 in Mathematics. On the ETS website, test-takers can find both free and paid study guides and test breakdowns.

Elementary Education: Instructional Practice and Applications OR Principles of Learning and Teaching K-6

As an elementary teacher, you have two options regarding your endorsement area examination. The first is the Instructional Practice and Applications exam. This two hour exam will assess your knowledge of how to design and implement lessons for Mathematics, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies. A study guide for the exam can be found on the ETS website.

The second option is the Principles of Learning and Teaching. Like the Instructional Practice and Applications exam, this assessment will dive in to your knowledge of how to instruct and develop curriculum. This test is divided by skill knowledge in Students as Learners, Instructional Process, Assessment, Professional Development, and Analysis of Instructional Scenarios. You can find more information on the test page.

Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects

This test is divided into four subtests: Reading and Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Sciences, and Science. Like the core test, this exam must be taken in one try. If it is not passed the first time, it can be split into different sections on the second try. The exam will test both your core knowledge and your ability to instruct elementary students in those areas. The cost of the exam is $150 for the full test or $50 for each individual subtest. Additional information, study guides, and sample questions can be found on the ETS website.

Step 4 Get the required Experience. In the final year of your teacher preparatory program, you will begin your fieldwork and student teaching requirements for certification. Student teaching is an important and vital part of your education and career preparation. You most likely will be placed in a variety of classrooms to build up your exposure to diverse student populations and grade levels. However, in order to be certified, you must spend one meaningful placement in a K-6 classroom.

This hands-on semester, or year long, experience will give you the opportunity to learn and grow by observing and working with teachers currently in the field. As you become more comfortable, you will most likely be asked to take on more responsibilities in the classroom until you are able to successfully teach and prepare full lesson plans with only little supervision.

Student teaching is typically arranged via your education program. However, if you would like to teach in D.C. Public Schools, you must apply via the online application on the district’s website. Regardless of where you student teach, an administrator at your college or university will check in with you frequently to note your progress.

You will be assessed not only on your skills in the classroom, but also your ability to be a professional at all times. To prepare for this, you should plan on arriving on time, volunteering to assist your coworkers, and dress accordingly at all times.

Step 5 Complete required documentation and Apply for Certification. The final step of your journey to becoming an elementary teacher in the District of Columbia is to apply for your Washington, D.C. license. If you completed a teacher preparatory program in Washington, D.C., you may apply for the Regular II license. If applying for the Regular II, you will begin by having your institution send the Approved Program Recommendation form on your behalf.

If you have not completed a teacher preparatory program, you will apply for a Regular I license. To qualify for this license, you must show enrollment in a teacher preparatory program and have recent experience teaching in a Washington DC educational institution.

Applicants must then submit the following materials:

  • Application for Regular I or Regular II Licensure (form can be found on the OSSE website)
  • $50 application fee paid on a money order or cashier’s check made payable to “D.C. Treasurer”
  • Sealed, official transcripts
  • Approved Program Verification Form
  • Sealed background check results
  • Educational Employment Verification Form (for those with prior teaching experience applying for Regular I license)

All items must be sent to:

OSSE – Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
Educator Licensure and Accreditation
810 First Street, NE, 5th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20002

If you have questions about your application or would like a consultation, you can stop in to the OSSE office for an in-person meeting with a licensing administrator. Their hours can be found on their website.