How to Become a High School Science Teacher in Washington State

There are certain testing and certification requirements essential to becoming a high school science teacher in the state of Washington. Here, we will explore those requirements in-depth and step-by-step.

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Washington has one of the largest student populations in the country, making it a prime location to begin a career in teaching science at the secondary level in a public school.

Washington State High School Teacher Salary Information and Requirements

Average Salary for High School Teachers in Washington (2017)* $64,760
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Education with a concentration in science, or a science degree like physics, chemistry, biology
Testing Requirements WEST-B, NES Biology, NES Chemistry, NES Physics, NES General Science

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Take the Required Pre-Tests

Applicants to a state-approved teacher-prep program in Washington state must first pass the WEST-B basic skills test or an approved equivalent. The WEST-B test is scored on a scale between 100 and 300. There are three parts, or sub-tests, to the WEST-B test: math, writing, and reading. A score of at least 240 must be achieved in all three sub-tests.

The price to take the WEST-B is $177 for a single session that covers all three tests. Taking each test separately is also an option, albeit a pricier one, with the fee to take each test in a separate session costing $75 apiece.

The more nationally known SAT/ACT tests are among those approved to be used in place of the WEST-B.

Step 2: Complete an Approved Teacher-Prep Program

There are a number of approved teacher-prep programs in the state of Washington. Admission to one of these programs will require a passing score of the WEST-B test or an approved equivalent. Additionally, many colleges and universities will have their own guidelines regarding admission. The Washington Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) website maintains an up-to-date list of approved courses in the state. These programs will develop students into capable teachers through the ''traditional route to teaching'' path that includes certification and student teaching. In addition to the general education courses offered by these programs, a specialization or ''endorsement'' is required to be certified to specifically teach science to high school students. The specializations recognized by the state of Washington for science fields are biology, chemistry, physics, and science.

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Step 3: Pass the Required Certification Tests

Following completion of an accredited program, additional testing in the specific subject an educator will teach in is also required. In science, those tests are the National Evaluation Series tests administered by Pearson. The subject tests in science are the NES Biology, NES Chemistry, NES Physics, or NES General Science tests. Each test has a fee of $95 and must have a score of 220 to be considered passed.

Applicants who completed their teacher-prep program outside the state of Washington can apply to have up to a year to complete the testing required by the state. Additionally, there are many tests that can be supplied in lieu of the WEST-B and NES tests. The website of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction website. A passing score is still required on all equivalent tests.

Step 4: Get Certified

New teachers require two forms of certification in Washington in order to begin teaching. First, the Pre-Residency Certificate is required in order to complete an approved accredited program. This certificate is usually included as part of the final curriculum in an in-state Washington program. Applicants must submit their fingerprints to OSPI to be certified.

Second, the Teacher College Recommendation Certificate is required to actually begin teaching in a Washington public classroom. This requires successfully completing a teacher-prep program, meeting requirements for a pre-residency or residency certificate, and passing all WEST-B and NES testing.

The Residency Teacher Certificate takes the place of the Pre-Residency Certificate for out-of-state applicants. A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, background check, copies of transcripts, and passing scores on all required testing (or equivalents) are all required to be submitted to OSPI for consideration of the Residency Certificate.

Step 5: Be Aware of Any Additional Requirements

All educators in the state of Washington must have submitted their fingerprints to the OSPI and agree to a background test. They must also be of good moral character and adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct published by OSPI.

Test Prep Certification Resources

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