Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in Georgia

In Georgia, teacher certification is an ongoing process. Regulation begins at the pre-service level. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) seeks assurance that teacher candidates have educational and professional fitness at the onset and that they get the support they need in the early stages and the recognition they deserve at the later stages.

Educational Standards

Teachers must have education at at least the bachelor’s level. They must complete approved education programs. Many programs are included as part of a bachelor’s degree program. There are also many post-bachelor options. A Georgia graduate will receive a certificate of eligibility at program close rather than an actual certification. (Once hired, he or she can go from certification-eligible to certified.)

Georgia teachers must have a course in identifying and educating children with special needs.

Candidates can expect a portfolio-based performance assessment. Students who attend Georgia programs will have the edTPA assessment before they complete student teaching.

GaPSC has responded to questions about online schools by saying that colleges outside Georgia must be accredited and that the program must be one that is certification-qualifying in its own state. (Georgia has higher standards for advanced in-field degrees leading to higher certification tiers; teachers should look for programmatic accreditation or Carnegie Classification of high or very high research activity.)

Teaching Fields

Teaching fields generally indicate both a grade level and a subject. The Georgia early childhood P-5 credential is comparable to the elementary certificate issued in many states. However, it includes pre-kindergarten and does not go quite as high as in some states: 5th grade only. There is also a separate birth through kindergarten early childhood certificate. Middle grade certifications (4-8) are available in five core subjects; Georgia credentials reading separately from language arts. Secondary certifications (6-12) are available in many subjects. Georgia also recognizes a number of teaching fields at the P-12 level; among them are world languages and arts such as drama and dance.

Special education teachers will, in many cases, need academic concentrations. Georgia bases these on cognitive level.

It is not uncommon for teachers to add teaching fields along the way. The early childhood and early childhood special education categories are added by completing a program in the field and taking the GACE. Completing a new program is also an option for teachers seeking to add other fields, such as additional secondary coverages. In many cases, though, it won't be necessary; many teaching fields can be added through assessment.

Georgia does have provisions to work with local units (LUAs) in determining the curricular content of a teaching field and providing alternatives for teachers to get the coursework they need to add it; this may be done when location limits teachers’ post-licensure educational opportunities.

The Certification/Curriculum Assignment Policies System (CAPS) is an online resource for determining what subjects educators can teach with their particular teaching field authorizations. Some subjects could be assigned to a person with any of multiple teaching fields. A person who taught 7th grade theater arts, for example, might have a drama endorsement or might be certified as a middle grades language arts teacher or secondary English teacher.

Assessment and Examinations

Assessment is multi-faceted and is built into the system throughout. Candidates take the Georgia Educator Ethics – Program Entry Assessment at the beginning stage. The Georgia Educator Ethics – Program Exit Assessment will be required at a later stage.

A candidate may take the Program Admission Assessment (PAA) for program entry or may be exempted on the basis of having earned relatively high scores on other qualifying academic assessments.

Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) are content-specific specific and are utilized for certification in many teaching fields. A student who is enrolled in a traditional academic program in-state will receive permission to test through his or her program when testing prerequisites have been fulfilled ( Other candidates, including those seeking certification through nontraditional pathways, make the decision about readiness themselves.

Georgia recognizes both an induction level and a professional level on GACE assessments.

Out-of-state teachers may be exempted from the GACE on the basis of having passed content exam in the teaching field they seek. They also exempted from the GACE if they have taught full-time in the field for the full five-years prior of if they hold Board certification through National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in the specific area state code. (GaPCS notes NBPTS certification as a middle grade generalist is not exemption-qualifying.)

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Oral Proficiency Interview and Written Proficiency Test are used for languages. A teacher who is also teaching content in that language will need to pass the content exam in the language.

The Application Process

Georgia has an online certification system but has also made paper forms available ( Supplemental forms are used to document lawful U.S. residency, and, when applicable, experience. The licensing authority will need official transcripts. Out-of-state teachers will make a copy of their license or direct the licensing authority to a state website where status can be verified. GaPCS has provided application resources specifically for out-of-state educators (

Certification Levels

Teachers who have completed pre-service requirements but are relatively new to the field are certificated at the induction level.

A teacher with three years of qualifying experience can upgrade to either a standard or performance-based certificate. A teacher who does not work for Georgia public schools will not be part of the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES) system and thus will not be eligible for the performance-based certificate, notwithstanding that his or her performance may be evaluated as very effective at the local level.

The Advanced Professional and Lead Professional categories represent a step up. The Advanced certificate is dependent on ten years of successful teaching experience with at least three accrued in Georgia in the relatively recent past. The teacher will do one of the following: achieve Board certification, earn a relevant advanced degree, or pursue a professional certificate in Curriculum and Instruction or Instructional Tech. An advanced degree may be in-field or in a new field. A new field would qualify the teacher for a new certification. Lead Professional only requires five years of experience but requires a credential specifically focused on leadership; there are multiple options.

Additional Information

Georgia teachers are certified by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission ( There are many ways to contact GaPSC; information is available on the contact page (