Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in West Virginia

Teaching is a bachelor’s or graduate level profession. There are two paths to meeting initial program requirements: traditional and alternative. However, in West Virginia, the alternative pathway is solely used for filling teaching positions in critical needs areas.

West Virginia specifies good character among the requirements. Regulation begins at the student stage.

West Virginia has a statewide induction program.

Teaching Fields

West Virginia issues generalist credentials at the early education (PreK-K), early childhood education (K-4), and elementary education (K-6) levels. A number of subject areas are recognized at the grades 5-9, 5-adult, 9-adult, and PreK-adult levels.

The following are among the options:

  • Art (Grades PreK-Adult)
  • Chemistry (Grades 9-Adult)
  • General Math through Algebra 1 (Grades 5-9)
  • Theater (Grades PreK-adult)
  • English (Grades 5-9 or 5-Adult)
  • Earth and Space Science (Grades 5-Adult)

Educational Pathways

The traditional path involves completion of an academic program at the bachelor's, master's, or post-bachelor’s level. A prospective student should ensure that he or she is enrolled in a program that is qualifying for public school licensure. The minimum GPA is 2.5. The program will include a student teaching experience. The Department of Education has a list of approved West Virginia programs.

The program may include teacher-in-residency as a senior year option when critical needs exist. Positions are not offered to residents unless they have been posted twice and a suitable applicant has not been found. A resident will need to have already passed content assessments.

A person can also apply in West Virginia based on completion of an out of state program housed in a regionally accredited institution. The Department of Education has provided a link to the National Center for Education Statistics to check program accreditation status.

West Virginia exercises a level of oversight over students from out-of-state schools who do their observations and clinical practice in West Virginia. In-state students are regulated at the clinical level. At this stage, they receive a permit, not a license.

College graduates who are interested in alternative certification will need to determine where critical needs exist. They will not enroll in the program until after an employment offer has been made. The Department of Education has provided a list of districts that have been approved to offer alternative programs ( The FAQ addresses the qualifications districts look for when hiring individuals who are not yet fully credentialed (

Alternative program enrollees may renew a limited number of times at superintendent request. They receive a provisional license after they have completed the alternative program. There are additional requirements they must meet before they can move up to the initial professional license. They will need to successfully complete induction in an employment context. They will also need some relevant academic coursework: six semester hours. The GPA requirement is higher: 3.0.

Assessment Requirements

Prospective teachers take an academic skills test, content test, and pedagogy/ professional knowledge test. Some take an additional test focused on development of student reading skills. Assessments are administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS).

The adopted academic skills assessment is the Core Academic Skills for Educators. Students can be exempted from the Core on the basis of high ACT, SAT, or GRE scores; minimum qualifying scores depend on administration date ( The Core is not required of out-of-state teachers who hold current certificates or have three years of recent qualifying experience (from the prior seven years).

Most teacher candidates will need to pass a Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching assessment at an appropriate level: K-6, 5-9, or 7-12. Those seeking all-grades certification may pass the K-6 or 7-12 version.

Subject tests are available in many subject areas. The ETS Praxis website includes minimum scores by endorsement are. The Department of Education has provided a list of endorsements and corresponding assessments.

In many cases, out-of-state teachers will be exempt from content area tests. There are several ways to qualify, including current licensure or certification through the National Board. Prospective teachers can be exempted on the basis of a doctoral degree in the subject area or a master’s degree in the subject in combination with significant professional experience.

Most assessments are computer delivered. American Sign Language requires a proficiency interview. (This is a teaching area where West Virginia can accept some alternative certifications.)

The Application Process

West Virginia teachers first submit documents at the student/ pre-service stage.

West Virginia has an online certification portal but some submissions must be made by mail. The Department of Education has provided links to applications and to the online portal ( Currently, provisional is among the credentials requested via paper application.

Supplemental forms are available online (

West Virginia requires fingerprint-based state and federal background checks. The approved vendor is IdentoGO. Fingerprints are made electronically. Individuals who can’t get to a Live Scan vendor, though, have the option of having their fingerprints made on hard cards and submitting them to the approved vendor for processing. There is a form for requesting fingerprint cards.

The Department of Education has provided guidance documents (

Additional Information

Information is available from the West Virginia Department of Education (

The Office of Certification and Professional Preparation maintains a toll-free certification line: 800-982-2378.