South Carolina Teacher Certification Requirements

Aspiring teachers first need to undertake training to prepare them to pass on their knowledge to others in the most effective way. In South Carolina, teachers must meet a number of education and testing requirements to qualify for certification.

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Teaching is one of the noblest and most important professions a person can aspire to. Teachers equip others with the foundational knowledge that will be applied in all other professions. To achieve this, they must be organized, conscientious and most importantly, passionate about passing on what they know. To become a teacher in South Carolina, candidates must acquire licensure and an endorsement in their chosen subject areas. The steps that need to be taken to obtain certification are outlined below.

Teaching Certification Requirements in South Carolina

Average Salary for Teachers in South Carolina (2017)* $50,510 (Elementary), $52,400 (Middle), $53,960 (Secondary)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Education
Testing Requirements Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core)
Principles of Learning and Teaching (Pedagogy)
or PPAT or edTPA, Subject Area test

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Degree

Teacher candidates in South Carolina must first obtain a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Additionally, while undertaking a degree program, candidates should complete an educator preparation program approved by the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE). The program candidates choose should typically provide a major in the chosen subject area and a minor in Education or something similar. Teacher education programs aim to provide candidates with a deeper knowledge of educational programs, curriculum models and standards, human growth and development, and learning theories.

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Step 2: Pass all Required Testing

Teacher candidates in South Carolina must pass three tests which are administered by ETS. The tests include Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (basic skills), Principles of Learning and Teaching (pedagogy), and a subject-area test:

  • The Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam needs to be passed in order to be accepted into an approved educator preparation program. The exam is divided into three tests that can be taken at the same time or separately:
    • Reading: qualifying score of 156
    • Writing: qualifying score of 158
    • Mathematics: qualifying score of 142
  • The Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) is a pedagogy exam which is usually taken at the end of an educator preparation program. There are four versions of this exam and the one that a candidate will take depends on the grade level(s) they aspire to teach. For candidates seeking a K-12 license, any one of the PLT exams can be taken. The options are as follows:
    • Early Childhood: qualifying score of 157
    • K-6: qualifying score of 160
    • Grades 5-9: qualifying score of 160
    • Grades 7-12: qualifying score of 157

There are some educator preparation programs in South Carolina that require teacher candidates to pass the PPAT assessment (the passing score is 36), or an edTPA. The SCDE will accept either assessment. Candidates should contact their program provider to find out which tests they require. The PPAT and edTPA must be completed while candidates are enrolled in an approved educator preparation program.

  • Finally, a candidate will need to pass a subject-area test in the grade level they wish to teach. They can check the ETS website to see which exams are required for their particular subject area.

Step 3: Apply for an Initial Teaching License with Endorsement

When all of the education and testing requirements have been completed, candidates can apply for an initial teaching license using SCDE's Certification Application Technology Services (CATS) online application system. Official college and/or university transcripts should be included with the application, alongside a 'verification of college preparation recommendation for teacher certificate' form completed by the candidate's educator program provider. Testing scores should be sent to SCDE by ETS.

As part of the license application, teacher candidates must also apply for student teaching clearance and then complete a fingerprinting process before they can begin student teaching in a South Carolina school. Candidates must ensure that their application files are complete around six months prior to their student teaching. Here are the following deadlines:

  • Fall semester student teachers must get their application files in order prior to February 15 (i.e., the February prior to student teaching).
  • Spring semester student teachers must get their application ready by June 15 (i.e., the June prior to student teaching).

Once an application is accepted, candidates are awarded an Initial Educator Certificate which is valid for three years. From this point, license holders can apply for teaching jobs in South Carolina.

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