Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in Kansas

It takes a significant time investment to become a Kansas teacher – at least a teacher who has full professional status. However, during the latter part of the process, the teacher will be drawing a pay check. The initial license is issued after completion of an educator preparation program and two assessments. The professional license is granted after successful performance assessment; this requirement is met on the job.

Generally speaking, the requirements are a bachelor's degree, an educator preparation program and content and pedagogical assessment. Kansas has a recency requirement: either eight semester hours of college coursework earned in the relatively recent past or a year of recent teaching. This is among the areas where there is some leeway: A teacher may step into the classroom before meeting the requirement.

Teaching Endorsements

A new teacher will be granted a license and least one endorsement; endorsements specify what the person is qualified to teach. Prospective teachers can earn unified (combined general and special education credentials) at any of several levels.

Middle grades (5-8) endorsements are offered in the core content areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, and history/ government/ social studies.

Secondary teaching certificates 6-12 are available in a wide variety of subjects – some as specialized as ‘Communication Technology’ or ‘Power, Energy, and Transportation Technology’. The following is a partial list:

  • English Language Arts
  • Psychology
  • Journalism
  • Family and Consumer Science
  • Speech/Theatre
  • Technology Education

At this level, there are endorsements for specific science disciplines such as biology, physics, and earth and space science. Endorsements may cover a 6-12 grade band and thus authorize middle school teaching as well.

P-12 certifications allow a person to teach special subjects at any level from pre-kindergarten through high school. They are offered in content areas such as art, foreign language, health, and music. A music teacher can earn a basic music certification or a vocal or instrumental certification.

It is very common for teachers to add endorsements along the way. A licensed teacher can earn a new secondary or middle school endorsement by testing even if his or her original license was below this level. The credentialing agency offers the example of an elementary teacher who is seeking a middle level math endorsement. Elementary and special education credentials, notably, cannot be added in this way.

Educator Preparation and Assessment

Prospective teachers must complete approved programs. The Kansas State Department of Education has provided a list of Kansas programs ( Standards for educator programs are competency-focused.

Teacher preparation programs typically culminate with a student teaching experience, with the education student taking on teaching responsibilities in the classroom of a cooperating teacher. Kansas student teachers are issued certificates authorizing this function.

Some well-qualified, already degreed teacher candidates become the teacher of record in a classroom instead of going through the student teacher phase. This occurs when there is unmet need for teachers in particular areas. In 2018, Kansas is piloting a new apprenticeship program for elementary and high incidence special education teachers. There are other alternatives.

A STEM license allows a person with a degree in particular STEM disciplines to be authorized on the basis of degree and professional experience. A professional might, for example, be employed to teach computer science, physical science, or mathematics. A STEM license qualifies a person only within a particular discipline. The licensing authority will look for five years of experience as well a degree However, a restricted credential may be granted without this professional experience.

Kansas utilizes Praxis examinations for initial teacher licensure. A candidate will take the ‘Principles of Learning and Teaching’ at one of four levels: early childhood, grades K-6, grades 5-9, or grades 7-12. (Because Praxis exams are used widely around the nation, grade bands don’t match exactly with state endorsements.)

The candidate will also take one or more content area exams. Beginning the fall of 2018, elementary unified candidates take both ‘Elementary Education: Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment’ and ‘Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications’. Early childhood unified candidates have different content area examination requirements depending on age range. Those endorsed for birth through third grade take Education of Young Children and Special Education: Preschool/Early Childhood.

ETS maintains pages about Kansas testing requirements and policies ( Candidates can see minimum scores for different assessments. Kansas candidates can expect their scores to be received automatically by the licensing authority.

Kansas Teacher Certifcation Reciprocity

The Kansas licensing authority may accept assessments that were taken for licensure in other states. A teacher who holds National Board certification is not required to take assessments. In some other cases, out-of-state teachers are exempt from testing requirement. Exemption may be granted on the basis of licensure and experience or on the basis of having achieved licensure in the distant past (

An out-of-state license at the professional level may be granted on the basis of having required assessments including performance assessment or on the basis of experience. Three years under a standard license will suffice if it was recent.

Teachers who qualified by alternative means in other states may need to begin with an interim license. Some experienced teachers, though, will qualify for professional licenses.

Transitional licenses may be issued to teachers who do not meet the state’s recency requirement.

An out-of-state licensed secondary school teacher with an offer of hire by a district can be issued a license even without evidence of having completed a program in his or her state. A license of this type is valid in grades 8-12.

Achieving Higher Level Licenses

The Accomplished Teacher license indicates a level of distinction beyond professional. National Board certification or other advanced performance assessment

The Application Process

Kansas requires state and federal background checks. The Kansas State Department of Education has provided step-by-step instructions for requesting a pre-formatted fingerprint card and submitting it (

Kansas has an online system, but some paperwork must be mailed. Applicants can generate forms on the website of the State Department of Education (

Most licenses carry a $60 application fee. This is also the cost for applying for an added endorsement.

Additional Information

Kansas teachers are licensed by the Teacher Licensure and Accreditation, or TLA Contact information for licensure specialists is available online (

Standards change periodically. The Department of Education has, in recent years, published new standards for educator preparation in various subject areas.