ALTERNATIVE CERTIFICATION ROUTES TO TEACH IN GEORGIA

 In Career Change, Teacher Certification

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), many teachers in Georgia are approaching retirement age. Nearly 20% of the teachers exiting the classroom have over 20 years of experience. While student enrollment projections continue to increase, the number of teachers joining the workforce is declining. Georgia, like many other states, is taking a non-traditional approach to finding quality teachers through alternative certification routes. These alternative licensure programs are designed to take people who have a degree in another field and give them the skills to be a successful teacher.

In Georgia, if you have a bachelor’s degree, you can get certified to teach by successfully completing one of these approved alternative teacher preparation programs. You can also get hired to teach before you are certified and complete the program while teaching.

If you are considering one of these alternative programs, it helps to be aware of the requirements before you get started. In this article, we look at the approval process for teacher preparation programs, the required state assessments, the multiple levels of certification and the types of alternative certification routes to teach in Georgia.

MINIMUM EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS FOR TEACHER CERTIFICATION IN GEORGIA

1.  A bachelor’s degree, except in specific career fields and technical subjects,
2. Completion of a teacher preparation program approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC)and
3. Passing scores on the Georgia State Teacher Certification Assessments.

CRITERIA FOR APPROVED TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN GEORGIA

Programs offered by Georgia colleges are approved by GaPSC. Programs offered from out-of-state must be approved by the state where the institution offering the program is located. To qualify as a Georgia approved program, the program must lead to an initial ‘Induction Certificate’ and must include student teaching, field experience or an education practicum.

GEORGIA STATE ASSESSMENTS REQUIRED FOR TEACHER CERTIFICATION

Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE)

Program Admission Assessment – tests knowledge and skills in reading, math and writing
Content Assessment – tests knowledge and skills in certifying subject area

Georgia Ethics Assessments

In addition to the state exams, teachers in Georgia must also complete the Georgia Educator Ethics Assessments. These short assessments are broken down into an entry and an exit assessment. The entry is completed when beginning a teacher preparation program and the exit when completing the program. This assessment validates the teacher’s understanding of the Georgia’s Code of Ethics for Educators.

Education Teacher Performance Assessment (EdTPA)

EdTPA is a performance-based assessment for pre-service teachers. It is subject-specific and requires the submission of lesson plans, video clips, student work samples and commentaries.

TYPES OF TEACHING CERTIFICATES ISSUED IN GEORGIA

The 4-tiered certification structure in Georgia is designed to increase opportunities for professional growth to teachers who remain in the classroom.

Tier 1 – Pre-Service Certificate (required to do field work/student teaching in GA schools)
To receive this certificate, you must:

  • Be admitted to a Teacher Preparation Program that leads to Induction Certification
  • Successfully pass a criminal record check
  • Complete the Georgia Educator Ethics Exam – Program Entry Assessment

Tier 2 – Induction Certificate (upon completion of all approved Teacher Preparation Programs)
To receive this entry-level certificate, you must:

  • Pass the GACE Content Assessment in your certifying subject area
  • Pass the Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment – Program Exit
  • Pass the edTPA

Tier 3 – Standard Professional Certificate (must be renewed every five years)
To receive this certificate, you must:

  • Have at least three years of successful teaching experience
  • Complete a course in ‘’Identifying and Educating Exceptional Children’ with a grade of B or better

Tier 4 – Advanced/Lead Professional 

  • The Advanced Professional certificate is for teachers who demonstrate expert classroom practice
  • The Lead Professional certificate is for teachers who are leaders of their peers

THREE MAJOR ALTERNATIVE CERTIFICATION ROUTES TO TEACH IN GEORGIA

1.The Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (GaTAPP) is designed to encourage qualified prospective teachers to switch careers to the classroom. Upon completion you will receive an entry-level Induction Certificate. The GaTAPP program is not available in all schools and not all applicants are accepted. To apply, you must:

  • Have a Bachelor’s degree with a major or its equivalent in your teaching field OR a passing score on the GACE Content Assessment
  • Be employed in a Georgia school
  • Be accepted into an approved Teacher Preparation Program
  • Hold a temporary, non-renewable certificate

2. The Georgia Non-Renewable Certificate is for prospective teachers who have been hired to teach in a Georgia school before completing an approved Teacher Preparation Program. Upon completion, you will receive a Georgia Induction Certificate. If the GaTAPP program is not available you, you can select this route. To apply, you must:

  • Have a Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Pass the GACE Program Admission Assessment
  • Pass the GACE Content Assessment in your certifying area
  • Pass the Georgia Educator Ethics Assessments
  • Hold a temporary, non-renewable certificate

3. The Georgia Non-Renewable Certificate is also an available route for prospective teachers who are NOT teaching and have not completed an approved Teacher Preparation Program. To apply, you must meet the same requirements as listed in number two above.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission has worked diligently to develop comprehensive guidelines for alternative certification routes for teacher candidates. If you teach in Georgia, you will experience increased job opportunities, particularly in Math, Science and Special Education, competitive starting salaries, possibilities for promotions, opportunities for professional growth, guaranteed benefits and extracurricular job positions.

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