How to Become a Teacher in Pennsylvania

Jan 02, 2019

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is home to 500 public school districts. Following the Great Recession, the state has seen a rise in demand for competent teacher candidates. This guide will explain the requirements to become a teacher in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Teacher Salaries and Requirements

Average Salary for Teachers in Pennsylvania (2017)* $62,250 (elementary), $62,620 (middle), $64,320 (secondary)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Early childhood education (middle level), concentration in specific discipline (secondary level), approved teacher preparation program (all grade levels)
Testing Requirements Pre-Service Academic Performance Assessment (all grade levels), Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests Pre-K-4 Assessment (elementary levels) Pennsylvania Grade 4-8 Core Assessment (middle levels), specific subject content knowledge (middle and secondary levels)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete an Approved Teacher Prep Program

To teach in Pennsylvania public schools, a bachelor's degree and graduation from an approved teacher preparation program are required. Over 100 of these programs are offered in the state of Pennsylvania through various colleges and universities. Hands-on experience in the form of student teaching in a public school district is also a requirement to become an educator in Pennsylvania. This is often the final step in an approved program, with prerequisite coursework including educational theory, methodology, and child psychology courses for all levels of teaching. Additionally, those seeking to teach at a secondary level in Pennsylvania must complete a concentration in their chosen discipline. For example, English teachers will have matriculated from a program with a concentration in English, biology teachers will have a concentration in biology, and so forth.

A 3.0 GPA is required and must be indicated on a college transcript for prospective teachers who have completed their prep program within the Commonwealth. For those attending programs outside of Pennsylvania, the GPA can be provided in a letter from their college or university.

Pennsylvania has many in-state schools and programs to prepare teachers, but reciprocal agreements exist with many other states as well. Out-of-state teachers must still have completed a bachelor's degree program at an accredited institution and meet all other Pennsylvania teaching requirements. Additionally, out-of-state teachers can be certified in Pennsylvania if they hold a valid National Board for Professional Teaching Standards credential or an active out-of-state certification with 2+ years of classroom experience.

Step 2: Meet Exam Requirements

No matter the grade level you are looking to teach, the Pre-Service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) or Praxis CORE is required for all candidates in Pennsylvania. Sufficient scores on the ACT and SAT may be accepted instead. After that, the requirements vary depending on the level you plan to teach in.

  • Early childhood and elementary school teachers: The PECT Pre-K-4 Assessment includes modules 1,2, and 3, all of which are required. Passing scores are 197,193, and 193, respectively.
  • Middle school teachers: The Praxis PA Grades 4-8 Core Assessment is required in addition to more specialized certification tests in specific fields. The required tests are called PA Grades 4-8 Subject Concentrations and may be taken for English (passing score 156), social studies (150), math (173), and science (156).
  • Secondary (high school) teachers: Specific content knowledge Praxis tests are required to teach in a secondary field in Pennsylvania high schools.
    • Biology: Content Knowledge (score 147)
    • Chemistry: Content Knowledge (154)
    • Citizenship Education: Content Knowledge (148)
    • Speech Communication: Content Knowledge (145)
    • Earth and Space Sciences: Content Knowledge (157)
    • English Language Arts: Content Knowledge (167)
    • General Science: Content Knowledge (146)
    • Mathematics: Content Knowledge (160)
    • Social Studies: Content Knowledge (157)
    • Physics: Content Knowledge (140)

As of 2018, Praxis content knowledge tests require a $120 registration fee. Test fees for the PA exams range between $75 and $140.

The fee for the Pre-K-4 Assessment is $46 for modules 1 and 2 and $53 for module 3. It costs $131 to register for all three simultaneously.

Step 3: Be Aware of Additional Requirements

Pennsylvania maintains a statewide database of certified educators called the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS). You can apply for certification using the public TIMS website, and following certification, TIMS provides easy access to your clearances and certifications for school districts and the general public. In addition to education and testing requirements, Pennsylvania requires all educators to be of ''good moral character'' per state law. TIMS screens potential candidates with a series of questions related to whether or not they have been investigated for child abuse or have any criminal charges pending.

If TIMS returns any ''red flags'' following the questionnaire, the information is forwarded to the PA Deputy Secretary for the Office of Post-Secondary and Higher Education for further review. This could result in applicants being asked to submit follow-up information in the form of certified court documents, a signed letter of explanation, FBI clearances, a background check, or letters of reference. Following a thoughtful analysis of the situation, the Deputy Secretary will determine whether or not to continue with certification.

Teacher Certification Resources

Featured below are test-prep resources to help you study for required certification exams and make your Pennsylvania teacher certification process a smooth one.

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