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What Are School Certification Programs?

A school certification program leads to graduates being certified or licensed to teach school. Institutions offer a variety of school certification programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels in teaching elementary, middle or high school.

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School certification programs can prepare individuals to teach at the elementary or middle school levels. There are also master's degree programs that provide advanced education for teachers at all levels.

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School Certification Program Defined

University and college Departments of Education generally offer school certification programs to prepare individuals for various roles in the industry. These programs meet the requirements for taking teacher certification exams and may be available at the undergraduate or graduate levels. Students may choose to become certified to teach a particular subject.

Elementary School Certification

Students interested in teaching elementary school are generally certified to teach grades K-8. Typically, students combine a major or a bachelor's degree in education with professional educational studies courses. Students are required to complete a mandated number of hours of classroom teaching. Education courses may include:

  • Education theory
  • Practical teaching methods
  • Child development
  • Education psychology
  • Teaching reading

Middle School Certification

Middle school certification programs generally certify students to teach grades 5-9. Students may earn a bachelor's in education or middle school education with teacher certification, depending on the school. Programs vary, but students may be required to specialize in one or two content areas. Program may only be available in specific content areas, such as social studies, English or math. A program may have core courses, which are general education courses, education courses and content area courses. Some of the courses that focus specifically on education may cover topics like:

  • Curriculum for middle school
  • Adolescent learning
  • Teaching middle school math
  • Instructional media

Secondary School Certification

In secondary school teacher certification programs, teachers are prepared to teach at either the middle or high school levels. Graduates are certified to provide education for students between grades 7 and 12. These programs typically include a mixture of education-related and supervised teaching experience. Aspiring teachers are typically required to choose a specialization area, such as:

  • English
  • History
  • Chemistry
  • Life Science
  • Mathematics
  • Social Sciences
  • Foreign Language

Master of Arts in Teaching

Some schools offer teaching certification within broader master's degree programs in teaching. Prospective students need to have a bachelor's degree to enroll in a master's in teaching. Students may enroll in a school certification program to become licensed to teach high school, middle school or elementary school, as well as early childhood while working on a master's degree. At the middle and high school levels, students are required to become certified in one or two content areas. Courses within these programs typically fall into four broad categories:

  • Foundational education courses
  • Courses in teaching certain grade levels
  • Content area courses
  • Experiential courses

Aspiring teachers need to become certified, and there are licensure training programs that can prepare teachers to work at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Certification preparation may also be included within master's degree programs in teaching.

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