Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in Alabama

There have been changes to Alabama teacher preparation standards in recent years. The state has instituted a performance assessment to better assess how well teacher candidates can teach.

Qualifying training may be pursued at the baccalaureate or post-baccalaureate level. Candidates should be prepared for multiple assessments. A background check is also required.

A teacher who holds a bachelor’s degree and meets all certification requirements will be issued a Class B credential. Class A or AA credentials can be issued to educators with higher levels of education.

Prospective Alabama teachers may begin the journey in Alabama or another state. Reciprocity is granted to teachers who hold current certification in other states as well as those certified by U.S. territories or by the Department of Defense Education Activity.

Alabama Teacher Certificates

Alabama issues teacher certificates in the following grade ranges:

  • Early Childhood (Preschool-Grade 3)
  • Elementary (Grades K-6)
  • Middle School Grades 4-8)
  • Secondary (Grades 6-12)
  • Elementary-Secondary (P-12)

Secondary, elementary-secondary, and middle school certificates are subject-specific. The following are examples:

  • Middle School Mathematics
  • General Social Science (6–12)
  • Theatre (P–12)
  • Choral Music (P-12)

Educator Preparation Programs

The State Department of Education has provided a list of Alabama educator institutions (

Students who opt for out-of-state programs may face additional requirements. According to current mandate, out-of-state applicants are to present out-of-state certification. Generally, degrees are to come from regionally accredited institutions. However, a licensed teacher whose only degree is from an institution that is not regionally accredited can be licensed at the Class B level after meeting additional requirements. The Alabama licensing authority will look for a minimum of nine semester hours of graduate credit.

Non-Traditional Pathways

Individuals who already hold degrees may seek non-traditional paths into the field. Options depend on the particular certificate sought. Elementary, early childhood, and special education pathways are relatively limited. However, students who are enrolled in Alabama Class A master’s programs may receive credentials authorizing them to serve as teachers while meeting program requirements.

There are a number of teaching areas where degreed individuals may receive provisional certification at district request. This path may be referred to as Provisional Certification in the Teaching Field. Certain prerequisites must be met. Candidates will pass subject area assessments prior to teaching. They will take some required courses along the way. However, the academic coursework may be far less than it would be if candidates were enrolled in either traditional programs or master’s programs. Provisionally credentialed teachers will receive mentorship as they prepare for performance assessment and full credentialing.

This pathway is available for arts and foreign languages, core middle school subjects, and a number of secondary teaching fields, including physical education and health as well as academic disciplines like biology, general science, and English. Degree holders who plan to teach in these fields may also look into Class A master’s options.

Adding Certificate Areas

Teachers may add additional fields. Some certificates can be added based on a combination of experience and Praxis examination. However, there are a number of limitations.

Early childhood and P-3 and elementary education K-6, for example, can only be added by teachers who already possess a qualifying certificate. Typically this is something related. A teacher who held one of the certificates could add the other. There are some other qualifying certificates, including most P-12 special education classifications. The teacher would need to demonstrate two years of experience in the grade range sought.

The State Department of Education has provided detailed information about adding certification via testing (

Assessment Requirements

Alabama teacher candidates go through the Alabama Educator Certification Assessment Program (AECAP). They take a series of very varied assessments. Assessments are designed to measure academic skills, knowledge of the particular subject area, and actual teaching ability. General academic assessments and subject area assessments are computer-delivered.

Alabama has adopted the ETS Praxis Core as its test of general academic skills. A candidate who passed all portions of the ACT WorkKeys assessment before September 1, 2017 can be exempted from taking the Core, though this option will eventually expire. The licensing authority notes that an earlier Praxis basic skills test, the Pre-Professional Skills Test, is no longer accepted. Reciprocity candidates, however, are not required to pass a basic skills assessment – their out-of-state certificates exempt them from this requirement.

Alabama teacher candidates also take Praxis subject assessments. Alabama recently raised minimum passing scores for a number of Praxis tests. Information about requirements is available from the Department of Education and from ETS ( The licensing authority may accept other equivalent subject assessments from reciprocity candidates.

Alabama recently adopted the edTPA, a performance assessment. Candidates create a portfolio which includes artifacts such as video. Students complete the requirements as part of their student teaching or alternative provisional teaching experience. Teachers who begin the Provisional Certification in the Teaching Field process during or after fall of 2018 will need to complete edTPA. The edTPA became the standard for students in Alabama Educator Preparation Programs slightly earlier. The State Department of Education has provided links to edTPA resources (

The edTPA is under the banner of a different testing organization, Pearson Education. It is used in an increasing number of states. There are differences, however, in its implementation (

The Application Process

In-state candidates apply through their universities. Out-of-state certification forms and supplemental forms are available for download (

Applicants will need to have background checks carried out by the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. The licensing authority has provided FAQs about the fingerprinting/ background check requirement (

Additional Information

Teaching certificates are issued by the Alabama State Department of Education, Educator Certification Section (

The Alabama State Department of Education notes that standards are subject to change.

Proposed changes can be found in the State Board of Education (SBOE) Administrative Code section of the website (