Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in Kentucky

Kentucky teachers earn their credentials by completing four year degrees and passing teaching assessments. They are generally required to complete student teaching as part of their preparation. However, some well-qualified individuals with prior degrees become course instructors while still in training.

Requirements may vary depending on what year a teacher enters the profession. The procedure has been for Kentucky teachers to receive eligibility after program completion and receive certification after experience. However, teacher certification requirements are subject to periodic change. In 2018, the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program, a long-time mentoring program for beginning teachers, is suspended due to lack of funding. This means that some individuals will be certified at an earlier stage than is the custom when the program is operational ( (One may see references to requirements that are not in place while the program is suspended. Local districts are encouraged to provide their own induction programs.

A Kentucky teacher with a four-year degree is at Rank III. A teacher can change rank by completing additional education and/ or achieving National Board certification. Ranks IV and V are for emergency certified teachers.

Teaching Certificates

Kentucky certifies teachers in the following grade bands:

  • Early childhood
  • Elementary (Primary-Grade 5)
  • Middle (Grades 5-9)
  • Middle/ Secondary (Grades 5-12)
  • Secondary (Grades 8-12)
  • Primary-Grade 12 or ‘all grades’

Elementary certification is valid for grade 6 in some circumstances.

The following are among the many teaching fields a prospective teacher may pursue:

  • Middle school English and communications
  • Middle school/ secondary engineering and technology
  • Secondary physics
  • Integrated music
  • Vocal music
  • Physical education
  • Moderate and severe disabilities

Teachers who pursue their preparation at the middle school level typically have two curricular specializations. Those who pursue adjunct credentialing in special education, though, may have just one.

Some areas (for example, ESL, gifted education, and computer science) are available as endorsements to the certificate.

Teachers may be approved for certification in Kentucky based on in-state or out-of-state programs. The licensing authority notes that out-of-state program completers must meet state ancillary requirements; an example is GPA.

Kentucky programs are approved by the Education Professional Standards Board. EPSB has provided a directory of programs offered by Kentucky institutions of higher learning. Out-of-state programs (with the exception of state-approved alternative programs) are to be housed in regionally accredited institutions.

EPSB has issued some cautions about online programs (

Kentucky has a recency requirement. Applicants who are not at rank II or who lack two years of relatively recent teaching experience are to demonstrate six semester hours of recent coursework ( They may, however receive one-year certificates that allow them to teach while meeting their recency requirements.

Non-Traditional Pathways

The university-based alternative route allows students who already hold degrees to be employed within the school system while completing their teacher preparation programs.

There are multiple other pathways that allow an individual with nontraditional training to be placed into a position at district request. An experienced post-secondary teacher who holds a graduate degree may, for example, be certificated to teach grades 8-12. In this instance, the licensing authority will look for the equivalent of five full-time years of teaching. A professional with education at the bachelor’s level can be credentialed on the basis of “exceptional” work experience related to the discipline he or she wishes to teach. In this instance, the licensing authority will look for multiple employer recommendations documenting the exceptional aspects of the person’s career.

Among the alternative pathways is the well-known Teach for America program. The adjunct instructor pathway, meanwhile, allows for part-time teacher employment in areas such as computer science, foreign language, or the arts.

State code KRS 161.048 describes allowable routes; these are summarized on the EPSB website ( Circumstances will dictate actual availability. Jefferson County Public Schools currently has an approved local district training program ( State code allows for the approval of other such programs.

Assessment Requirements

Kentucky uses ETS Praxis assessments.

The Core Academic Skills for Educators assessment is typically used at program admission. ETS notes that graduate programs may make admissions based on GRE scores.

Prospective teachers in most fields take a Principles of Learning and Teaching assessment at the K-6, 5-9, or 7-12 grade level. They also need to take the subject tests required for their particular licensure area.

Assessments are computer-delivered. Some are continuously available while others have set testing windows. Candidates who test in Kentucky can expect their scores to be sent automatically to the licensing authority. Some candidates will need to designate the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board as a score recipient.

ETS has provided a list of Kentucky assessments by teaching area, along with minimum passing scores and EPSB code (

Currently certificated out-of-state teachers can be exempted from assessment requirements on the basis of two years of full-time teaching experience.

The Application Process

Application forms can be downloaded from the website of the Education Professional Standards Board (

The licensing authority will require transcripts from university programs; this is the case whether the program was completed in-state or out-of-state.

Additional Information

Certificates are issued by the Kentucky Department of Education, Office of Educator Licensure and Effectiveness, Division of Certification.

The Division of Certification can be reached at (502) 564-5846 or ‘dcert at’.