Education Requirements for Becoming an English Teacher in Oregon

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Teaching in Oregon has become more challenging over the last several years according to a 2014 article in a local Eugene, Oregon paper. 2010 saw a change in the way teachers created lessons and now four years later there may be more changes to come. In the past, Oregon had some of the easiest academics in the nation, but now with the new Common Core standards, teachers are changing their lessons to focus more on readying students to test.

While Oregon students may not have much buy-in to do well on the Common Core test (because they are not tied to graduation or acceptance into college) teachers may have a stake in students’ performance. As early as 2015, a teachers’ performance may be evaluated based on students’ tests scores. For prospective English teachers in Oregon, this information may help you as you begin your teaching program. It will be an optimum time for you to address these challenges and learn ways to overcome them in your own classroom. Teaching English in Oregon can be a rewarding and stable career even with new challenges on the horizon. If you are ready to embark on this new path, here are the basic steps to help you begin:

Choose a Degree and Teaching Program
Pass Oregon’s Competency Exams
Apply for Oregon Licensing
Continue Education



Step 1. Choose a Degree and Teaching Program

Bachelor’s Degree and Teaching Program

Taking on a new teaching career in English will allow you to have a job that can last a lifetime. That isn’t always true in many other occupations. Teaching is still one of the most stable and often rewarding jobs available. The minimum time commitment of a bachelor’s degree and teacher’s preparation creates a solid foundation for earning a state license. You could potentially be ready to take over your own classroom in about four years.

The programs that are available through Oregon colleges and universities are designed to help you become proficient in your major as well as proficient in teaching skills. The steps in your education take you from general educational courses, through a series of English courses, into the core classes of teacher training. You will finalize your education with time spent in a classroom setting. You will have the opportunity to watch other English teachers conduct class, ask questions, and learn form those with experience. During this portion of your education, you will also have the ability to teach classes by acting as a student teacher.

Alternate Options

Sometimes teaching candidates have already earned a degree and have now decided to change careers. If you earned a bachelor’s degree in the past and are seeking a change you may be a candidate for an alternative program.

There are three options for alternative education that can meet the state requirements in Oregon for licensure:

  • Schools can offer you a Restricted Transitional License. This curriculum offers mentorship style training. Your mentor will be responsible for overseeing your classroom abilities and reporting on your progress.
  • The third option is obtaining a master’s degree. This pathway will have a traditional teacher’s preparation curriculum and is available from many Oregon schools.
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Step 2. Pass Oregon’s Competency Exams

The Oregon Educator Licensure Assessments (ORELA) is your next goal on the path to becoming a teacher. They are comprised of tests given through Pearson Education centers around the state. The testing areas cover the basic skills in reading, math and writing as well as core skills in English and grade-appropriate teaching techniques, as well as a civil rights test.

Basic Skills Test

The test (consisting of three parts) is created so that you can prove you have the basic skills to become an effective teacher. Each test has both multiple-choice and constructed-response questions. You can take all the tests together or you take them one at a time.

  • Reading test – allotted time is one hour. You will have to answer 45 multiple-choice questions.
  • Writing test– allotted time is one hour and fifteen minutes. There are 36 multiple-choice questions with one written assignment.
  • Math test – Allotted time is one hour. There are 45 multiple-choice questions on this test as well.
  • English Language Arts– This is a three hour test with 150 multiple-choice questions
  • Early Childhood Education– This is also a three-hour test with 150 multiple-choice questions.
  • Elementary Education Subtests– this is an hour and thirty-minute test with 75 multiple-choice questions per subtest.

Not everyone has to take the last three exams listed. They are determined at the time you register. It will be based on the grade level you choose to teach.

Student and Civil Rights Exam

The Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Educational Environment Examination, is a multiple-choice test created so that you will be able to know the following:

  • Understanding what is ethical standards and know how to prevent discrimination in schools.
  • Understand the court precedents regarding all forms of discrimination.
  • Help teachers be aware of other cultures and learn how to have discussions that promote equality in Oregon schools.

When you are ready to apply, the following steps are the basic ones you will need to follow:

    • Create your ORELA account.
    • Apply for the correct tests based on your teaching grade level.
    • Study for each test prior to taking them.



Step 3. Apply for Oregon Licensing

After you pass your exams, you can begin the license application process. There are several types of teaching licenses in Oregon. They all have a list of requirements as well as restrictions.

  • The Restricted Traditional License (NCLB) is the license issued when you participate the alternative NCLB program.
  • Initial I Teaching License is most basic and standard license that most teachers receive after passing their degree program and exams.
  • The Transitional Teaching License is awarded to out of state candidates who have never taught but have completed all the licensing requisites.
  • The basic Teaching License is awarded to you if you teach part time in an Oregon school. The Professional Educator Experience Report (PEER form) verifies your experience and will need to be sent in along with certain other documents.
  • The Five Year Teaching License is available is available if you work at least halftime through a contract with an Oregon school. You will have to supply a copy of the Professional Educator Experience Report (PEER form) verifying experience. You also meet all the other

Start by deciding which license is appropriate for your situation than follow the process to finalize your application.



Step 4. Continue Education

When your first license is up for renewal, you must have a certain amount of Professional Development Units (PDU) completed for recertification. In the 2014-2015 school year for full (non-substitute) licensure the following PDUs will apply:

  • Teachers whose license expires in 2014 will have to complete 50 PDUs.
  • Teachers whose license expires in 2015 and beyond will need to complete a total of 75 PDUs (for a 3-year license). If you earn a 5-year license you need 125 PDUs.

Professional Development Units programs are available through many accredited colleges and universities. One semester credit will award you thirty PDUs. Check with your school’s HR department for a list of other possible programs approved for Professional Development Units.



Oregon English Teacher Salaries

In Oregon teachers are scheduled to work 192 days a year. Every few years districts will negotiate new contracts in which teacher salaries, benefits, and other factors will influence just how much pay a teacher in Oregon makes.

Many of the schools will offer a stepped-up salary scale that starts with a minimum amount for teachers who have just received their state certification and earned the required bachelor’s degree. From there many schools step up the amount based on how long the teacher has been on the job as well as how much additional college they add to their original degree.

As an example, in Portland, Oregon an English teacher salary for a high school teacher at Benson High School would have a starting salary of $38,046 for each contract year. If this English teacher chose to add up to 105 additional units of school, he could earn $51,777 instead. Portland School district allows for additional salary based on earned units of approved college courses that don’t necessarily have to meet degree requirements.

In Marion County at the Salem-Keizer schools, the English teacher mentioned above would start at $37,320. Marion County schools require that you add college units for salary increases as well but in different increments. These units must have translated into a formal degree as well. For instance, they only pay additional money for a bachelor’s plus 45 units. From there, you would have to earn a master’s degree in order to go to the next step. The highest salary for an entry-level teacher in Salem-Keizer schools is a master’s plus 45 units. The English teacher would earn a staring salary of $46,278.

In Beaverton, Oregon the steps are laid out a bit differently. They are divided by degree between a master’s and a bachelor’s. Each of these two scales offers only two steps. The starting pay for a teacher with a bachelor’s is $39,108 and a master’s is $42,459.

For other cities throughout the state of Oregon view the teacher salary information chart below:

Area Name
Annual Median Salary
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro OR-WA
Salem OR

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