Author:

  • Cameron Poland, M.T.
    • University of Virginia School of Education
    • English Teacher, West Point Middle School
      • West Point, VA

Why Teach in VA? Virginia Teacher Certification Explained

Teaching is a challenging yet rewarding career. Each day presents a unique set of obstacles to overcome, but each day is an opportunity for you to reflect, build, and improve your teaching practice. Teachers are problem-solvers, learners, creators, role models, supporters, and much more. 

I became a teacher because I love learning and working with students. I began my career in education through AmeriCorps as a K-3 literacy tutor and fell in love with working with students. Each day, I was reminded of the excitement and joy of learning that I had at my students’ age, which led me to reflect on my high school teachers who sparked my interest in literature. My teachers helped me create a foundation for my love of learning, and I knew I wanted to provide that foundation for future generations. 

After this realization, I wanted to determine how to receive my Virginia teaching certification. To get started, I applied to teacher preparation courses in Virginia. As a Virginia native, I wanted to stay in the state, but I also knew that Virginia provided a wide variety of teaching options and experiences; I could teach in a rural, suburban, or urban district with opportunities to switch settings.

What I’ve Learned So Far

As a current teacher in Virginia, I can attest to the diverse opportunities available. Currently, I am teaching in a rural district in a small, close-knit community; however, next year, I will be teaching in a large suburban district at a school with over 2,000 students. Regardless of the community in which you teach, you will see first-hand the positive impact you have on your students and the community.  

Teaching is not a one-size-fits-all career. Likewise, Virginia schools do not seek out one-size-fits-all teachers. Working in Virginia offers you the opportunity to work with other educators who have similar goals, such as positively impacting student learning and growth, and who come from diverse backgrounds. Not only do you get a chance to learn from your students and develop your teaching practice, but you gain support and insights from your colleagues. Virginia’s P-12 schools support a collaborative environment focused on life-long learning for both educators and students. 

Most importantly, teachers in Virginia actively seek to meet the needs of their students.

Teaching is hard work, but providing students with a teacher who values, respects, and holds high expectations of them leads to students’ social and academic growth. This growth is incredibly rewarding, and I cannot imagine a more fulfilling career. 

Virginia Teacher Certification Requirements

In Virginia, you must hold a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, obtain passing scores on the required certification tests, provide evidence of CPR training, provide evidence of Dyslexia Awareness training, evidence of Child Abuse Recognition and Intervention training and, beginning July 1 2023, evidence of Cultural Competence training. 

In addition, you are required to present transcripts showing you meet the content and pedagogical training requirements for your area. You can find these requirements in the Virginia Administrative Code. These include coursework as well as clock hours in school placements, including practica and student teaching. 

Virginia Teacher Preparation Program Requirements

Virginia has approved multiple pathways for meeting the content and pedagogical requirements mentioned above. 

You may enroll in university or college-based educator preparation program, including a Baccalaureate program leading to licensure or a combined Baccalaureate/Master’s program leading to licensure. The latter typically requires five years of study. 

In each of these instances, your preparation program will share program-specific requirements which may include:

  • School-based experiences including practica and student teaching or internship experience
  • Completion of a portfolio highlighting your performance on key program-based assessments
  • Multiple observations by program faculty and mentors during your student teaching experience

Virginia has also approved an alternate route to certification, or career-switcher program, for those who hold a Baccalaureate degree and have completed the required academic coursework for their area and who hold at least three years of successful full-time professional experience.

Virginia teacher certification

Virginia Teacher Certification Tests to Pass

Virginia requires prospective teachers to pass certification tests as part of the licensure process. The list of assessments required by endorsement area is available on the Virginia licensing services website. Passage Preparation offers the following courses aligned to assessments required in Virginia:

Elementary Education

Secondary Education

How to Study for Virginia Teacher Certification Tests

Studying for Teacher Certification tests can be stressful. When I began to prepare for the Praxis English Language Arts (5038), a large part of my stress was finding the right study materials. I spent too much time looking at reviews for outdated books, knowing that they weren’t completely aligned with my needs. Passage Preparation™ provides comprehensive courses to prepare you for your certification test and ensure your test-taking needs are met. Here are some of my testing tips and tricks: 

Tips and Tricks for Studying for Virginia Teacher Certification

  • Map out your study plan. Not only is the content important to know to be successful on the Praxis Exam, but backwards mapping is also an important skill as an educator. It is crucial to spend significant time reviewing the material. Passage Preparation’s asynchronous courses allow you to develop a study plan that best fits your personal and professional goals and responsibilities. By mapping out your study plan you can accommodate for your current schedule and still master the content and standards you are required to demonstrate on your Virginia certification test. 
  • Review and evaluate your progress on your study plan as you prepare.  Passage Preparation’s assessments throughout the course will help you determine content that you should revisit to develop mastery. 
  • Finally, remember your “why.” When we work intensely toward a goal, we can forget why we want to achieve it in the first place. While I was studying for my English teacher preparation tests, I reread books that helped spark my love of literature. I suggest finding an outlet that helps you remember why you are going through this process. Is it your love of literature, Calculus, or Physics? Is it your love of children? Your commitment to education? Or is it all of the above? Keep your ultimate goal at the forefront of your mind as you prepare for your exams, because this increases your motivation and, ultimately, your success. 

Benefits of Being a Virginia Teacher

Overall, teaching is a fulfilling and rewarding career. I have grown so much as an educator and person in just one year of teaching in Virginia. I highly suggest to anyone interested in working with students and making an impact in Virginia to explore the education field. In my experience, there are many different teaching contexts that meet professional learning and career goals, and these districts offer competitive salaries and benefits.  

There are multiple pathways to receiving your Virginia teacher certification, but every teacher candidate needs to take certification exams to meet state requirements. These include Praxis exams as well as, for some certification areas, the Virginia Communications and Literacy Assessment (VCLA). 

Passage Preparation’s courses are meant to meet your needs and help you study for your certification test.

Frequently Asked Questions

Teaching in Virginia is a rewarding career. Passage Preparation™ courses help you prepare for the Praxis tests you are required to pass to become a Virginia educator!

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

About the Author: Nathan Estel

Avatar photo
Nathan has over 20 years of experience in the educator preparation and certification space. In that time, Nathan has worked in a state education agency, leading the state’s efforts to recruit, prepare, license, and retain professional and support staff and on the national level for large companies providing assessment solutions for the education field.

Recent Posts

  • Teacher Helping Pupils Studying At Desks In Classroom Checking Work Smiling

Classroom Management for New Teachers

November 29th, 2023|

Classroom management is central to developing a safe and positive learning environment for your students. In this post, we explore why classroom management is so