Teaching Certification Testing Requirements


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Teaching is a licensed profession, and like most licensed professions there are often exams requirements to qualify for licensure or certification. Teaching Certification exam requirements vary from state to state, but generally most US states require exams that prove subject matter expertise and educator competency.

Exams may be administered by the state or a national organization recognized by the state like Praxis or NES. You don’t have to be in the US to take these exams, either. 

It’s important to remember that while organizations may provide testing, teaching certifications can only be issued by a local entity, like a state government or ministry of education. Tests are typically just one component of the teacher certification application, and passing an assessment does not guarantee that you will be certified. 

Foundational Knowledge Assessments  

One type of assessment that may be required by states is a foundational knowledge assessment. These tests may be known as Basic Competency Assessments, Professional Knowledge Assessments, or Foundational Assessments. but they all have the same goal: demonstrating competency. 

Foundational knowledge assessments attempt at showing your competency in the basic tenets of teaching but are not subject-specific. They are often used to prove your knowledge of foundational English, reading, math, classroom management, and pedagogy. If you’ve completed a bachelor’s in education degree or a teacher preparation program, you should be well prepared for a foundational knowledge assessment. 

Content Specific Assessment

Another type of exam that is often required are content assessments. These tests are aimed at proving your competency in a specific subject matter. They focus on a content area and subject level to prove that you are knowledgeable in your desired teaching area. For example, if you plan to teach 7th grade science, you may be required to take a biology and an earth science content assessment for secondary grades. Or, if you plan to teach 3rd grade, you may be required to take an elementary generalist content assessment. 

In most cases, you can take multiple content assessments to add endorsements in multiple subjects to your teaching certification. Some states even allow you to take additional content assessments after you have already earned your teaching certification to expand your certification to multiple subjects.

Praxis and NES

There are two private administrators of tests that are utilized by several states–Praxis and NES. Praxis and NES both provide several core competency, subject matter, and additional assessments, and there are testing sites located around the world. There is a cost associated with these exams, so you should always check the requirements of the state where you plan to earn licensure to confirm what exams are required before signing up for any test. Typically, a state will also specify if you should take a Praxis or NES administered test in their certification requirements. 

See a list of testing requirements by state here.

See a general list of teacher certification requirements by state here.

As you prepare to become a highly effective teacher, you will acquire the skills and background knowledge needed to be successful on exams. There are also test prep services available in case you’d like extra preparation. (All Moreland University candidates and alumni have access to resources from Teachers Test Prep, for example!) Exams should never stop you from pursuing a teaching certificate! 

Learn more about becoming a teacher with Moreland University.

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