Teaching English Language Arts in Oklahoma is about more than just rote schoolwork. Considering that the English language is the number one language used to distribute information and news around the world and that more than 700,000,000 people speak it worldwide — teaching English is like opening an international portal for communication.
As an English teacher, no matter what grade level you teach, you will be one of the most important teachers a student will have. Learning to read, write, and communicate well is a requirement for almost any job in today’s workforce. No relationship thrives without good communication skills. You will instill in your students a lifelong gift when you teach them how to master the English language. When you are ready to become a certified English Language Arts teacher in Oklahoma, the steps below can act as a map to guide you in the process.
|Complete Your Education for Teacher Preparation|
|Pass Teaching Exams|
|Apply for Teaching Certification in Oklahoma|
|Renew Your Certification|
Step 1. Complete Your Education for Teacher Preparation
Applying to a college or university that will offer you the best teacher preparation possible is the first step in this new journey. The Oklahoma Department of Education follows the recommendations of The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The NCATE accredits those educational programs that fit within their strict guidelines for teacher preparation. The school you attend must be on the NCATE current list for state licensing. To access the database and explore school choices, you can create an online account on the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability website.
Choosing your program
A typical undergraduate degree in English education will contain the following requirements to complete a 124 unit BA program:
- General Education/behavioral sciences and humanities- 44 units
- Core courses in English as a major – 41 units
- Educational (pedagogy) courses and internship- 33 units
- Specific university requirements- 6 units
A master’s program will typically add an additional 18 to 24 months to your education. The number of units needed to complete a master’s degree is about 33 additional units.
If you are considering a change in careers and would like to teach in Oklahoma, you may already qualify for a license that will allow you to teach full-time while taking the remaining courses needed for the teaching program. To qualify you must:
- Hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university
- Previously majored in English or related educational degree
- Have a minimum of a 2.5 GPA
- Have two years previous work experience in English or have completed graduate level related coursework
To be considered for this program, you will need to have your previous courses examined for eligibility and fill out an application.
Step 2. Pass Teaching Exams
The Office of Educational Quality and Accountability (OEQA) has created an assessment testing system for educator license certification. These tests are used to gauge your teacher preparation skills. You will be tested in general subjects for basic skills, as well as core content testing. The following are the tests you will be required to take:
- Oklahoma General Education Test (OGET)
- The Oklahoma Subject Area Tests (OSAT)
- The Oklahoma Professional Teaching Exam (OPTE)
These exams are a reflection of the standards that are expected by both the state of Oklahoma and national standards for teacher excellence. Each section of tests has individual subject and grade level specific testing numbers. You will need to determine which numbers are the correct ones for you.
Registering for a test date
To take the tests, you will need to create an online account with the OEQA where you will have access to your test scores after you have tested. You will then need to register for your test dates on the Certification Examinations for Oklahoma Educators (CEOE) website. From this site you may:
- Register for the testing dates and times
- Confirm your testing dates and times
- Change your testing dates and times
- Request the ticket you will need to gain admission into the test
- Review all your test history
Step 3. Apply for Teaching Certification in Oklahoma
The next phase of credentialing is applying for your teaching certificate. In order to apply for certification, you will need to have a background check (along with fingerprinting) provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). As a first-time Oklahoma teacher seeking a credential, you are required to file a fingerprint card with the Oklahoma State Board of Education (OSBE). The steps to take when you are ready to apply for your teaching certificate are:
- Filling out a complete an application
- Supplying school transcripts in an official sealed envelope
- Submitting a processing application fee
- Completing the Fingerprint and background check
- Including the proof of teaching form for internship experience
Applicants completing a teaching degree program will also need to have a recommendation for certification from your program chair.
Mail all documentation to:
Oklahoma State Department of Education
Professional Standards Section
Room 212, 2500 North Lincoln Boulevard
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105-4599
For questions call: (405) 521-3337
Step 4. Renew Your Certification
The process of renewing your first certification can be accomplished by logging onto the Online Renewal Application. If you prefer, you may also complete the Application for Renewal of Oklahoma Standard Certificate and mail it along with the current processing fee to:
Oklahoma State Department of Education
2500 North Lincoln Boulevard, #212
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105-4599
The renewed certificate is valid for five years.
One important note: If you are behind on your state taxes, you may not be able to renew your teaching license. Oklahoma requires that all teachers be in compliance with state tax laws. A list of all teachers is sent to the Oklahoma Tax Commission in order to check for compliance.
Oklahoma English Teacher Salaries
The basic starting salary for any certified teacher in Oklahoma will not be under the state minimums. In 2014 the floor was set at $31,600. The base level salary for Oklahoma teachers meets state standards of pay according to state legislatures. From there, a teacher can earn a higher income by adding on additional college degrees and courses from accredited sources and staying with the same school district throughout their career.
Each county in Oklahoma has the option of securing additional funding in order to entice teachers to teach in their districts. If you are planning on teaching in Oklahoma schools, it may be worth your time to consider which schools pay above state minimums.
As a comparison, an English teacher in a middle school in Oklahoma City will earn a beginning salary of $32,925. If this teacher had began her career with a Ph.D she would then start at $35,475. If this English teacher never made any more than her entry level pay, the difference over a thirty year career would add up to an additional $76,500. Of course, the pay scale is dynamic and will change as this teacher adds years of experience steps to their salary as well.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma a teacher will have a very similar salary scale as Oklahoma City. Both of these school districts are not too far above the state minimums. Tulsa teachers will start at $32,900 but only pays up to $34,000 for an entry-level teacher with a doctorate. Tulsa also offers a pay in lieu of opportunity for teachers who wish to seek their own medical coverage. The Tulsa school district paid a cash equivalent of $69.71 per month in 2014, but the health insurance benefit likely outweighs this amount. The school district also provides a career increment of $1,000.00 annually after a teacher has taught for twenty years.
There are over 550 school districts in Oklahoma. To see more teacher salary information for other schools and cities around Oklahoma see the chart below: