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Changes to Teacher Certification Requirements

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Important certification changes were made in the 2017 legislative session.  

Governor Inslee signed these changes into law on July 7. In July, the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) made a round of emergency rule changes to enact E2SHB 1341. In response to WEA and other stakeholders, the PESB made additional changes at its September meeting to align renewal requirements across certificate types.  

What are the changes to certification requirements?

Obtaining a professional certificate is now optional, though still possible through ProTeach or National Board Certification. ProTeach will only be available through the June 2019 submission date.

Teachers with residency certificates now have three certification options:

  • *New* Teachers can now renew their residency certificates in five-year intervals. Teachers must have at least 1.5 years of experience over two years to access this option. Teachers with STEM endorsements must now also document completion of the STEM professional development requirement (15 clock hours) as part of the 100 required clock hours, or 

  • Complete and pass ProTeach to earn a professional certificate. There are still 150 clock hours awarded for the successful completion of ProTeach. Teachers must have at least 1.5 years of experience over two years to access this option, or

  • Complete and pass National Board Certification to earn a professional certificate. The base and challenging schools bonuses continue to be state-funded for NBCTs. Teachers must have at least three years of experience to access this option. Ninety clock hours are still available for achieving National Board Certification: 45 upon submission of a complete portfolio, and 45 upon successful achievement.
    • The PESB voted to exempt all National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) from having to complete STEM-specific professional development to renew their professional or continuing certificate.

Summary of the September 2017 rule changes (effective immediately) 

These changes provide new renewal options for almost all certificate holders in Washington. Residency, Professional, and Continuing certificate holders, in the roles of teacher, administrator, and ESAs now all have the same options to renew their certificates: 

  • Completing 100 clock hours or 10 college quarter credits, or  
  • Completing four annual professional growth plans (PGPs) during the five-year certificate validity date, or
  • Combining completed PGPs with clock hours for a total of 100 hours, or 
  • Possesing the relevant, valid certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards the National Association of School Psychologists.

Additional changes include: 

  • The clock hour renewal requirement for professional and continuing certificates is now 100 clock hours instead of 150.
  • Professional growth plans (PGPs) are also an option for renewing residency certificates.
  • Allowing clock hours as an option in addition to PGPs for renewing teacher and ESA professional certificates first earned after September 1, 2014, and all administrator professional certificates.
  • PGPs will be worth the equivalent of 25 clock hours instead of 30 beginning July 1, 2018.
  • PGPs for residency, professional, and continuing certificates are aligned with career level benchmarks.
  • NBCTs will be considered to have met the TPEP certificate renewal requirement for professional and continuing certificates, thus do not have to complete the TPEP professional development. But, beginning on September 1, 2019, renewal applications for professional and continuing teacher, administrator, and CTE certificates must still document completion of at least 15 clock hours, or at least one goal from an annual professional growth plan (PGP), related to the knowledge and competency of the teacher and principal evaluation criteria or system. This is not required for residency certificate renewal.
  • Second tier certification is now optional for school counselors and school psychologists. Educators in these roles are now able instead to choose to renew their residency certificates.

In addition, clarification is provided on when the clock hours/equivalency must be earned. For lapsed or expired residency or professional certificates, requirements must be completed in the five years prior to the application for the five-year certificate. 

Lastly, applications for residency or professional certificate renewal may not be submitted earlier than twelve months prior to the expiration date of the current certificate. You may earn the clock hours or complete the PGPs anytime during the five-year period your certificate is valid.

Here is a link to the most recent PESB Frequently Asked Questions, regarding certication.   

What are the STEM renewal requirements? 

If you teach in a STEM-related endorsement, and are not an NBCT, effective Sept. 1, 2019, your renewal applications for residency, professional, initial and continuing teacher and CTE certificates must document completion of at least 15 clock hours, or at least one goal from an annual professional growth plan (PGP), with an emphasis on STEM integration. 

What are the implications for Residency Certificate holders?

Residency certificate holders may follow any of the three options listed above. Additional considerations:

  • People currently registered for the ProTeach Portfolio or National Board Certification components can choose to continue with those assessments. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) will continue to offer and score the ProTeach assessment through the end of its contract in 2019. 
  • Individuals may withdraw from ProTeach or National Board and complete the 100 clock hour/10 credit option. However, they must follow the withdrawal processes with the respective assessment provider.

What if my Residency Certificate has lapsed? 

People whose certificate lapsed may renew it by documenting 100 clock hours/10 quarter credits. Contact OSPI at 360-725-6400 to discuss the required procedures.

What other changes are there? 

PESB may make additional decisions on these and other related issues in upcoming meetings: 

  • Role of microcredentialing/badging for certificate renewal
  • Consideration of the professional certificate without the Pro-Teach requirement

Why were these changes made?

WEA member frustration with teacher certification requirements has mounted in recent years, culminating in the passage of a new business item (NBI) at the 2016 WEA Representative Assembly. In response, WEA conducted a survey to understand member experiences with and perceptions about the ProTeach portfolio. Survey responses confirmed widespread dissatisfaction with the ProTeach, ts costs and perceived relevance to teaching practice.

Licenture issues are a matter of law, not policy, so changes to certification needed to be made by the legislature. Rep. Bergquist (LD 11) and Sen. Fain (LD 47) sponsored bills to address ProTeach concerns. Ultimately E2SHB 1341 passed both chambers unanimously.

What were the previous certificate requirements?

Since September 2000, teachers received a residency certificate and were required to eventually earn professional certification to continue employment. Since 2007, ProTeach and National Board certification were the two options for professional certification.

Prior to September 2000, teachers earned initial and then continuing certificates. These individuals are not affected by these policy changes.

Questions? You can verify the status of your teaching certificate through OSPI's eCert account. For further questions about the implications of recent policy changes on your certificate, please contact OSPI's Certification Office at 360-725-6400 or by email at

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