Background Checks for Teachers

Instructor: Fola Rae
Background checks for teachers are used to ensure it is safe for them to work with students. Read on to learn more about the types of background checks that can be conducted and find helpful resources for aspiring teachers.

Background Check Requirements

In many cases, prospective teachers must complete background checks before participating in any clinical experiences, fieldwork or student teaching included in their college's teacher education program.

You'll likely have to undergo this process again once you have completed your teacher education program and are applying for your initial teaching license. Some states also require background checks for licensure renewal.

Types of Teacher Background Checks

While the types of required background checks can vary, one of the main things typically checked into by colleges and state education boards is whether prospective teachers have committed any crimes. In some cases, they also look into whether or not a prospective teacher has ever abused or neglected any children or adult dependents.

These background checks are typically conducted by state criminal investigation agencies. Some colleges and state education boards also double check an applicant's history by performing a federal background check. This will show crimes committed within the previous seven years in other states, if there were any.

Steps for Completing a Background Check

Typically, the first step in this process is to print and fill out an application - available on your school or state board of education's website - to take with you to an approved site for fingerprinting. You will also need to pay any fees associated with this service. In some cases, you might need to submit an additional form agreeing to an investigation into the national sex offender registry.

If you're completing a background check to prepare for your teacher education program's field requirements, be sure to give yourself plenty of time for this information to be processed. It can take anywhere from 2-12 weeks for the results of your background check to be sent from a state or federal agency and evaluated by your school. Additionally, if you're completing a background check as part of the teacher licensing process, your application might be put on hold until the state receives the results.

Background Check Results

After a background check has been completed, your college or state education board reviews the results to determine whether or not you can begin your program's field requirements or if it will grant you a teaching license.

For applicants with a criminal record, factors such as the severity of a crime and the rehabilitation steps taken afterward are taken into consideration. Applicants' teaching licenses can be turned down if a board determines their criminal history makes them unfit for teaching or if they answered any of the application questions falsely.

Additional Types of Investigations

Once you've received your license and begin applying for teaching positions, some prospective employers might also look into the records of where you worked in the years leading up to your application to work at a school. Your credit and financial management history or your military service records are other areas that schools might check to determine eligibility for a teaching job.

Resources for New Teachers

If you're going through a background check to earn your initial teaching credentials, you might also consider checking out these Teacher Certification courses to help meet your state's testing requirements. Each resource includes self-paced video lessons and quizzes to help you find out what's covered on the pedagogy and subject area tests you'll need to pass prior to licensure.

You might also find these Teacher Resources handy if you're looking for lesson plans, instructional aids and tutoring resources covering everything from science and social studies to math and language arts topics. You can also access courses to review effective teaching and assessment strategies as well as curriculum development resources.

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