How to Become a Teacher in Oregon
Although there is National Board Certification, Oregon does not require teachers to have this certification nor does it replace required state licensure. Non-degree holders, or those with an associate degree or some college, can pursue a traditional bachelor's degree in education that leads to a preliminary license to teach in Oregon. Those with a bachelor's degree, in education or another field, can pursue a master's degree in education with the same licensure option. Those with prior relevant professional and academic experience, who also pursue advanced degrees, may qualify for professional licensure in the state.
So, what's the difference between a preliminary license and a professional license? A preliminary license to teach is for new teachers who have successfully completed an approved teacher preparation program. This license is for those qualified to teach but who have not met the advanced educational and professional experience requirements for the professional license. The professional teaching license requires an Oregon preliminary or basic, initial, or initial II license. Applicants must also have four full-time or six part-time years of teaching experience. In addition, completion of an advanced degree and/or endorsement program; advanced licensure program; or specialization program is needed for the professional license.
Hybrid Teaching Licensure Programs in Oregon
The state of Oregon has multiple colleges and universities that offer dual-format licensure programs that require some campus-based class-time. Due to the licensing demand of each applicant needing professional experience instructing and managing a classroom, finding a completely online program is not as commonplace as the hybrid format.
George Fox University
GFU has multiple campuses in Oregon and features hybrid (online and campus-based) format programs in education that are cohort based. The bachelor's program at George Fox can be completed in 20 months with full-time enrollment. It's accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and offers initial licensure with approval to teach early childhood and elementary education. The Master of Arts in Teaching at GFU leads to Oregon Pre-K-12 preliminary licensure and is also accredited by NCATE. The part-time MAT program lasts 16 months; although it is delivered in a synchronous online format, students are required to attend a session at the Portland Center once per semester.
Eastern Oregon University
Located in La Grande, EOU has a full-time, 10-month Master of Arts in Teaching program that is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. EOU's MAT program consists of synchronous and asynchronous online classes blended with campus-based classes. While typically not required during the spring term, students must attend classes on campus for 3-7 days during the fall, winter, and summer terms. The program requires students to start in August and complete the required courses with their cohort. Successful completion of the program leads to preliminary licensure with endorsements in several areas including agriculture, biology, foreign languages, mathematics, and music.
Oregon State University
The Master of Arts in Teaching in Clinically Based Elementary Education is a hybrid-cohort program. This program provides balanced studies that align online learning with classroom immersion to gain the hands-on experience so highly valued in the teaching profession. The experiential knowledge gained by co-teaching in Beaverton- and Portland-area schools leads to preliminary licensure upon successful program completion and the passing of appropriate tests. This is a full-time, two-year MAT program accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Face-to-face classes are held at OSU's downtown Portland location.
Other Licensure Requirements
In addition to the necessary educational components, to include a commission-approved teacher preparatory program, licensure depends on your ability to successfully pass requisite exams. The state of Oregon requires aspiring teachers to pass a civil rights exam as well as appropriate subject matter tests in the area(s) they wish to teach.
Oregon Educator Licensure Assessments (ORELA) Exams
The ORELA exams are provided by the National Evaluation Services (NES), Inc. The majority of the tests that you will need in order to teach in the state of Oregon are ORELA exams. ORELA provides examinations for early childhood education, biology, general sciences, middle school mathematics, foreign languages and more.
Praxis exams measure overall mastery of content knowledge in the areas of pedagogy and instructional skills. For Oregon, these exams include the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators assessments and the Praxis Subject Assessments.
Oral Proficiency Assessments
These exams are needed for the bilingual specialization and the dual-language specialization. Offered by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the exams include the official ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and Oral Proficiency Interview Computer (OPIc). These exams measure proficiency in languages from English, French, and German to Sindhi, Marshallese, and many languages besides.
Teacher certification in Oregon is voluntary, but becoming a National Board Certified Teacher can show your mastery in your field. The standards were written by teachers and are scored by teachers. To become a certified teacher, you must have a bachelor's degree, teaching license and at least three years' experience. Over the course of 1-3 years, you submit four components: a content assessment and 3 portfolio pieces. Each requires a fee and is scored. A passing score leads to certification.
Depending on your current academic background, you can be licensed to teach in Oregon in less than a year. Throughout the state, there are programs that help applicants become classroom ready via hands-on and academic training that leads to statewide licensing to teach in general and specialization areas.