How to Become a High School Math Teacher in Pennsylvania

Aspiring high school math teachers in Pennsylvania must successfully complete a number of education and testing steps in order to achieve certification. Here, we describe these steps in some detail and how to apply for certification once they are complete.

The appreciation of how numbers underpin our understanding of the world is one of the most important core skills young people need to develop. High school math teachers play a crucial role in helping students advance their math skills beyond the basics so that they can begin to comprehend and put forward more complex ideas. High school math teacher candidates in Pennsylvania must satisfy certain education and testing requirements before they can apply for certification.

High School Math Teaching Certification Requirements in Pennsylvania

Average Salary for High School Teachers in Pennsylvania (2017)* $66,020
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Mathematics Education
Testing Requirements Pre-Service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) or Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators, Praxis Mathematics Content Knowledge

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Relevant Degree

In Pennsylvania, prospective high school math teachers need to first obtain a bachelor's degree in mathematics education. The math education major will typically include the following subjects:

  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Trigonometry
  • Discrete mathematics
  • Statistical analysis

During this program, high school math teacher candidates will also need to undertake an approved teacher education program that should consist of a number of secondary education courses such as:

  • Adolescent Psychology
  • Technology in Learning
  • Standards-Based Secondary Education
  • Technology in Secondary Education

These courses will generally be taken in the first two years of a candidate's program with the final two years focusing more on the mathematics major. The program will also provide candidates with hands-on classroom teaching experience

Holders of mathematics degrees, who wish to teach at the secondary education level, can complete a graduate/instructional certificate in mathematics education. Such certificates can be completed in as little as two terms and again require candidates to undertake a practicum to gain classroom experience.

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Step 2: Pass All Required Testing

The state of Pennsylvania requires high school math teacher candidates to pass two types of tests: A basic skills test and a mathematics content knowledge test.

For the basic skills tests candidates have two options. They can take the Pre-Service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA), which consists of the following components:

  • Reading: 36 selected-response items (minimum pass score - 220)
  • Mathematics: 36 selected-response items (minimum pass score - 193)
  • Writing: 36 selected-response items, 2 sentence correction assignments, and 1 extended-response assignment (minimum pass score - 220)

Passing scores on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators tests will also satisfy the Pennsylvania Department of Education's (PDE) basic skills testing requirements. These tests consist of the following exams, which can be taken at the same time (code: 5751) or separately:

  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading (code: 5712, minimum pass score - 156)
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing (code: 5722, minimum pass score - 162)
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics (code: 5732, minimum pass score - 142)

The Praxis Mathematics Content Knowledge test (code: 5161) is administered by ETS. The computer-based test consists of 60 questions split into two content categories. Forty-one questions are devoted to number and quantity, algebra, functions and calculus, whilst 19 questions focus on geometry, probability and statistics, and discrete mathematics. Candidates have 150 minutes to complete the questions and must score at least 160 to register a pass.

Step 3: Apply for Initial Pennsylvania Teacher Certification with Secondary Mathematics Endorsement

Once candidates have satisfied the education and testing requirements, they are ready to apply for their initial teacher certificate - the level I teaching certificate. Applications must be submitted electronically using the PDE's online Teaching Information Management System (TIMS). The application fee is $200. Successful applicants can download and print their initial teacher certificate from TIMS.

Before a newly certified teacher can take a teaching job in a Pennsylvania, they must pass the three following background checks:

  • Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance
  • Pennsylvania State Police Request for Criminal Records Check
  • Federal Criminal History Record Information (CHRI)

Pennsylvania High School Math Teacher Certification Resources

High school math teacher candidates in Pennsylvania can click on the links below to access our detailed study guides, which will help them greatly when preparing for their certification exams:


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