A recent 2015 speech by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin addressed a rising concern over the teacher shortage in West Virginia. He considered allowing residents who were business members or those with a degree in English to be able to bypass the current teaching licensing requirements. They would be able instead to earn a credential through a new transitional program.
This may be worth keeping an eye on if you plan on teaching English in West Virginia. Until this legislation is passed, the current path to earning a teaching license in West Virginia can be found by following the steps below:
|Complete a Teacher Preparation Education Program|
|Pass West Virginia Exams|
|Apply For West Virginia License|
|Renew Your Teaching License|
Step 1. Complete a Teacher Preparation Education Program
No matter if you just graduated from high school, or you are entering college for the first time in your forties, your teacher preparation program will be similar. The degree programs you select typically depend on a few choices:
- What subject to teach
- What grades to teach
- What level of education you plan to complete
Whether you want a traditional program at a brick-and-mortar school, an online program, or a combination of the two (if available).
You have likely already made one decision: you plan on becoming an English Language Arts teacher. If that is the case, the next step is considering the grade level you want to teach. Your teaching day will be very different if you teach seniors in high school as opposed to first grade elementary school. Because of this, your college preparation is different as well.
As an elementary school teacher, you will need to learn a broad array of skills. Your job will consist of teaching all subjects to your students in a contained classroom. You will likely see the same children all day long. An exception to this might be an outside art or music experience. As a rule, however, your students will remain in your class for the entire day, learning English Language Arts, as well as math, science, health, and other subjects.
As a high school or jr. high school teacher, this isn’t the case. You will teach five to six periods a day and students will rotate in every hour. Your class will be broken into Language Arts categories such as Literature, Speech, and Composition. You will be responsible for many more students throughout the year.
The next decision you need to make is your level of education and choosing an accredited school to attend. The least amount of college allowed for licensing is a bachelor’s degree. This may not be the best choice for you, however.
Now is the time to consider how much to invest in your future. After you are out of school and are teaching full-time it may be difficult to return to school to gain a higher degree.
The typical undergraduate degree program for teachers might be broken down into the following sequence: 128-semester units total, 33 in the major.
- Freshman-lower division/general education, electives
- Junior-lower division/general education, electives
- Sophomore-upper division/general education, electives, major courses
- Senior-upper division/general education, electives, major courses, teaching program, practicum
The master’s degree will add an additional 30-35 semester units of core courses to your bachelor’s program. If you decide to someday pursue a professorship or administrative work, a Ph.D would be advised.
Step 2. Pass West Virginia Exams
After your education you will be required to pass a set of state exams. Each test is constructed in a way that proves to the State Board that you have the skills needed to teach English Language Arts and/or elementary education.
The first series of tests determine how well you do on basic skills: reading, math, and writing. The next test is specific to the age of students you teach. If you teach young children for instance, you need to take the following tests:
- 5024 Early Childhood Education
- 5203 Teaching Reading: Elementary Education
- 5531: Pre-Kindergarten Education
If you teach high school you will need to take:
- 5038:English Language Arts: Content Knowledge
Each grade and age has a specific set of tests listed for English Language Arts and the grade level. It is important that you choose the proper test. You will need to register for the right ones and pay a fee for each. You may choose to test for the basic skills exams on a separate day from the core exams.
You may also choose to access the study and preparation guides available on the website. These may prove helpful to you when the time comes to take the tests. They are found by clicking on the link of each specific test name on the site. For instance, study material for test 5024 Education of Young Children is here.
You will need to create an account and register for your testing dates on the Praxis website.
Step 3. Apply For West Virginia License
After you receive your passing grade for the Praxis tests you are ready to complete the licensing process. The step-by-step procedure for licensing is below:
Book your fingerprint appointment with MorphoTrust. This will also complete your background investigation requirement.
Review the list of forms including character recommendation, fingerprint card, and institution recommendation, for all first time applicants. You will need to send all these in with your application.
Send off for your college transcripts. Remember not open them, as this will break the official seal.
Pay your fees through the online payment system.
Fill out the application in its entirety and mail to the following with all supporting paperwork:
Office of Professional Preparation
Building 6, Room 722
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, WV 25305
Step 4. Renew Your Teaching License
Once you hold your Professional Teaching license for at least three to five years you may renew it by completing one of the following options:
- Six units of courses towards a master’s degree in a program that relates to public school.
- Six units of courses that relates to improving English instruction. Three units of technology are also required.
- Six units of courses towards a different endorsement other than English.
- Six units of courses prescribed by my district per my yearly evaluation.
A Master’s degree-plus thirty hours on the salary scale or greater (this replaces the coursework requirement listed above).
If you are older than sixty or National Board Certified you will not need to take the additional units.
Complete the renewal application form and mail it to the following address:
Office of Professional Preparation
Building 6, Room 252
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, WV 25305
West Virginia English Teacher Salaries
West Virginia is planning to increase teacher salaries over the next five years. The plan is to raise the minimum state mandated teacher salary so that by 2019 all teachers will be making a minimum of at least $43,000 a year.
As you look across the budgets of schools in West Virginia, it appears that many are slowly getting to that minimum, but some still a long ways off. For new teachers who are considering a job in West Virginia, it would be a good idea to consider what each district is paying and where the money is coming from in order to ensure a secure career.
For instance, an English teacher in Berkley County Schools with zero years experience and a master’s degree will earn $37,378 in their first year. The state’s basic salary in this case is set at $31,834 but the Berkley school system has many supplemental sources in place that add additional funds that allow for greater salaries to be paid to its teachers.
Boone County schools also have these supplemental sources. They have state equities and other subsidized sources that pay for the teacher with the master’s degree. Therefore they are able to pay the higher educated teacher a greater salary of $38,393. If this teacher had started with just a BA however, there would not be any subsidized money and the pay would be substantially less. A fourth class teacher at entry level would start at only $28,698 in their first year.
In Grant County a teacher will earn $28,698 as a fourth class teacher. If she had a master’s she would earn $34,487 but this county doesn’t have many of the same funds as some of the other counties do at any of the levels.
As you consider which county you want to teach in, it is important to look at the sources of funding as it can affect how you are paid. To see teacher salaries of other counties around West Virginia see the table below: