Before you can become an elementary teacher in West Virginia, you must first meet the necessary requirements set up by state and national regulations. Successful completion of this process will ensure that you become a qualified instructor who is ready for the challenges of the classroom.
Step 1 Enroll in a Teacher Education Program. All states require that you first obtain a Bachelor’s degree before you can become a teacher in the United States. West Virginia has a list of accredited teacher preparatory programs that will specifically educate teachers on both subject competencies and common teacher methodology.
For those who do not attend a teacher preparatory program and receive a Bachelor’s degree in another field, you may apply for special certification that will allow you to teach in an underserved classroom while enrolled in an alternative program or a traditional teacher preparatory program. Regardless of program of study, all future teachers must obtain a 2.5 GPA.
Step 2 Get a criminal history background check. A background check is required in West Virginia for all entering teachers. The background test helps the state assess whether you are authorized to work with and instruct a group of students. It will specifically uncover any criminal activity that may hinder you from fulfilling state and national safety requirements.
Background checks must be done before you apply for your permit to student teach. Background checks are performed through an electronic scan of your fingerprints. Only one company, Morpho Trust, is authorized to perform the LiveScan background checks in West Virginia. The process is as follows:
- Make an appointment for the LiveScan on the Morpho Trust West Virginia portal or by calling: (855) 766-7746
- Pay the $45 fee online.
- Get your LiveScan fingerprint performed at the correct facility.
- Submit your fingerprints with your licensure application.
If anything does come up on your background check, you may have to provide a narrative on the circumstances or background of the flagged event.
Step 3 Take the Praxis examination. West Virginia uses standardized testing for incoming teachers to assess the readiness of teacher candidates. Tests range from core knowledge exams and teacher methodology to the testing of your ability to think critically with common classroom situations. All of West Virginia’s teacher tests are administered through ETS’s Praxis series for teachers. You can register for a test, find a testing date and location, or read more about your requirements on their website.
Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core)
The Core exam will test your basic subject knowledge in Writing, Mathematics, and Reading. Mostly multiple choice (except for parts of the writing test), this exam can be split up in to three different subtests or taken altogether in one go. The test costs $135, and a free study guide can be found on the ETS website.
Those who have a master’s degree or who have scored above the national average on the SAT or ACT exams may opt out of the Praxis Core tests.
Principles of Learning and Teaching: K-6 (PLT)
This second-level assessment will test knowledge of how to handle the process of designing curriculum and lesson plans to the implementation and assessment of students. Divided by skill knowledge in Students as Learners, Instructional Process, Assessment, Professional Development, and Analysis of Instructional Scenarios; you should prepare by studying up on professional aptitude and professional knowledge. You can find more information on the test page.
Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects
Like the Core examinations, this test will blend your knowledge of Mathematics and Reading/Language Arts in addition to Science and Social Studies. Questions will also include methods of teaching these subjects to a variety of levels of learners. The ETS website provides a comprehensive study guide.
Teaching Reading: Elementary Education
West Virginia has placed an emphasis on developing reading skills in young learners. Therefore, they have required that all incoming elementary educators pass the Teaching Reading exam. The exam covers phonetics, language development, and early reading skills. You will be asked to answer question on how to teach and reinforce reading skills in the classroom. To prepare, the Praxis series has developed free and paid study information.
Step 4 Get the required Experience. As a student enrolled in a teacher preparatory program, you will work your way up to the final, capstone experience: student teaching. Student teaching is an exciting and important part of your education. It will allow you to gain invaluable hands-on experience working in a real classroom of students and under the instruction and guidance of a supervising teacher. This 15 week experience will help you grow and gain confidence as an educator.
Future student teachers wanting to perform their field work in the state must apply for a West Virginia Student Teacher Permit by submitting Form 24 and a $25 check to their County Board of Education office or their teacher program’s department head. The Praxis I test must be completed before they submit their forms. Once approved for the student teacher permit, students will work with a school official to find a placement in an appropriate school or classroom. More than likely, you will be placed in a variety of different classrooms with a diverse group of learners to help you become more well-rounded.
It is highly recommended that you work in advance to gain experience working with students either inside a school or through after-school and/or club activities. Becoming comfortable instructing and leading youth can be challenging, but it gets easier through practice. Another way to prepare for student teaching is to observe current teachers, with their permission, as the lead lessons.
Once you are in the classroom, it is important to develop a strong relationship with your supervising teacher. Be a professional at all times, arrive at work on time, and volunteer frequently. Opening yourself to new experiences in your placement school and classroom can lead to a much more fulfilling student teaching stay.
Step 5 Complete required documentation and Apply for Certification. Once your student teaching has been completed and you have passed the remaining examination requirements, you are now ready to apply for certification to teach an elementary classroom. As a new teacher, you will apply for an Initial licensure if you have completed the teacher preparatory programs. If not, you will apply for a Temporary or Alternative license while you work to complete the necessary education requirements.
You must submit the following documents when you apply for certification:
- Form 7– Applicant Consent/Relase of Background Results
- Fingerprint cards from your LiveScan
- Form 4b– Character Reference
- Form 20t– In-State Institutional Recommendation
- Form 20S– Initial Student Support Application
- Sealed, official transcripts from your school
- $25 application fee made out to West Virginia Department of Education
You must then mail all materials to:West Virginia Department of Education
Office of Professional Preparation
Building 6, Room 722
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Charleston, WV 25305
If your application has been successfully submitted and approved, you will be able to check the status of your certification on the Department of Education website.