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Virginia Journal of Education


Getting Your License


What you need to know about earning—and keeping—your teaching license.



By Antoinette M. Rogers

You may be a novice teacher just learning your way around your new school building or a seasoned veteran who’s seen almost everything—either way, you probably have some questions about your teaching license and how it works here in Virginia. Here are the basics of professional licensure in the Commonwealth, which I hope will supply answers to most of those questions.

First of all, it’s the law. If you’re a teacher, the Code of Virginia mandates that you have a license approved by the state Board of Education and issued by the Virginia Department of Education (VDoE). You must also renew it every five years. One exception is for speech language pathologists: Though they’re classified as instructional personnel, their licenses are issued by the Virginia Board of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.

Last school year, according to VDoE, the state issued about 8,500 new teaching licenses and, on average, about 22,000 licenses are renewed each year. 

Activities that Count Toward Initial Licensure and Renewal


You earn your license by completing approved professional development activities. Those activities are assigned point values, and you must be able to document that you’ve accrued 180 points. Eight options for earning points in activities outside your routine work responsibilities are available:

• College credit
• Professional conferences
• Curriculum development
• Publication of an article
• Publication of a book
• Mentorship/supervision
• Educational project
• Professional development

Let’s look at each option.

College credit. If you’re a new teacher seeking your initial license, you’ll need to submit a college verification form from an approved teacher preparation program, along with an official transcript, passing scores on professional teacher assessments, and a certificate of completion for child abuse and neglect recognition and intervention training. If you’re a Virginia resident, it will cost you $50; if you’re coming from out-of-state, the fee is $75.

If you’re not a brand new teacher, college course completion is no longer required in order to renew your license. That doesn’t mean, however, that college classes can’t still count: successful completion of one at a regionally accredited college or university may still yield renewal points. If you choose this option, you must take the class for credit and pass it with at least a grade of C. Typically, 30 points are awarded per semester hour, so a three credit hour class would be worth 90 points. Official transcripts must be submitted as verification. 

Both undergraduate and graduate level courses are available through NEA Academy at special rates for VEA/NEA members. To learn more, visit www.neaacademy.org.  

Professional conferences. Participating in and/or presenting at a professional conference is another option for earning points. The professional meeting must be a workshop, institute or seminar lasting at least four hours.

If you go as a participant, you may earn five points per day; if you’re a presenter, you can earn 15 points per topic presentation. Make sure to keep invitations, programs, thank-you notes and certificates bearing your name for verification.

VEA and other organizations cannot award points, but can provide certificates and/or letters indicating the number of conference hours you attended. VDoE licensure specialists convert hours into renewal points.

VEA hosts a variety of conferences annually, including the Southwest Organizing Institute and Reggie Smith Organizing School during the summer, and the Instruction and Professional Development Conference, held each fall. This year VEA is pleased to host the first ever Education Support Personnel (ESP) Conference in October and the Teachers of Color Summit in February 2017.

Curriculum development. Serving on a local, state or national curriculum development committee or team is also an approved option for earning renewal points. One point per clock hour is awarded, with a minimum of five hours of service. With the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) coming soon, school divisions around the state will be gearing up to be ready. Educators will have new chances to have our voices heard and to contribute meaningfully to curricula and assessments.

Publications. You can earn significant points toward your license renewal by writing journal articles and books related to K-12 curriculum and instruction, or the advancement of the profession. Submit copies as documentation; you’ll earn 90 points for a book, 45 for a professional article. This magazine, and one published by the National Education Association, NEA Today, are among many publications you may want to consider for submitting an article.

Mentorship/supervision. If you supervise student-teachers or students completing field experiences, you may be awarded one point per clock hour, with a minimum of 90 points. You can also earn points if you’re assigned as a mentor teacher. All mentoring and supervision must be pre-approved and undertaken in conjunction with a teacher education or induction program. An official letter or list of mentor/supervisors from a college or university or district administration must be submitted as verification.

Educational project and professional development activities.  To qualify as an education project, your activity must be outside of your daily work responsibilities, and something that advances the profession. This can include something not covered by other professional development options, such as teaching a college or university course.  Leading seminars and training workshops are two more examples, and almost every school division provides this kind of opportunity. 

In addition, VEA has more than 50 workshops and trainings available, either for you to attend or to consider becoming a trainer for. Local associations may request workshops for members at no cost.  School divisions may also request VEA trainings, for a minimal cost. A list of available VEA “Workshops on Demand” is available at www.veanea.org/workshops.


Some Key Things to Keep in Mind

• Every regularly employed teacher in Virginia must hold a license.

• Provisional licenses are issued at the request of a school division.  Many school divisions do not hire provisional license holders if there are fully licensed applicants.

• All licensure renewal activities must be pre-approved by school division administrators and/or human resources personnel.

• Teachers in Career and Technical Education (CTE) subjects such as technology, cosmetology, auto mechanics and other vocational subject areas, are required to hold industry certification credentials. For initial licensure in CTE, teachers must pass a Board of Education-approved industry certification examination.

• As mandated reporters, all teachers are required to complete Child Abuse and Neglect Recognition and Intervention Training. A free training module, administered by the Virginia Department of Social Services, is available online at
http://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/cps/mandated_reporters/cwse5691/story.html

• Initial licensees must present passing scores on professional licensure assessments (reading for Virginia Educators for Elementary and Special Educators), Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment, and Praxis II for all teachers.

• All instructional personnel must successfully demonstrate proficient use of technology in order to meet technology standards.

• Initial license fee is $50 for Virginia residents and $75 for non-residents; renewal fee is $25.

• Every licensee in the Commonwealth must provide evidence of training in
emergency first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of automated external defibrillators (AED).

• Keep documentation of all professional development activities in an accordion file with five tabs (one for each year in the renewal cycle). Documents should include certificates of completion, transcripts, letters of commendation, publications, programs, etc.

• To expedite the licensure/renewal process, verification of the completion of all requirements should be submitted at least two months prior to expiration. Turnaround time for receiving the license depends on the volume of applications.

• Take advantage of conferences, workshops and educational projects offered by VEA.


In the Pipeline


Revisions are underway to the Licensure Regulations for School Personnel, with final changes due later in this school year. For example, beginning July 1, 2017, all educators seeking initial licensure or renewal will be required to complete awareness training on the indicators of dyslexia. Training will be provided by the Virginia Department of Education.
As more changes are finalized, we’ll provide additional information.

For more information or assistance with teacher licensure and license renewal, contact the VEA Office of Teaching and Learning at 1-800-552-9554. You can also consult the Virginia Licensure Renewal Manual (May 2016), on the VDoE website (www.doe.virginia.gov).

Rogers, PhD, is the Director of VEA’s Office of Teaching and Learning. She is a former elementary teacher, library media specialist and teacher educator, and proud to be a third-generation Virginia Education Association member. She extends special thanks to Dr. Kendra Crump, Director of Licensure and School Leadership at the Virginia Department of Education, for her help with this article.


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What You Must Do


Your responsibilities, according to the Virginia Licensure Renewal Manual, in order to fulfil the requirements for a license renewal, begin with creating an annual plan and reviewing your program of professional development activities. This should be done with an advisor who has been designated by your employing educational agency.

When you’ve finished a renewal activity, you must supply reasonable documentation to your advisor. During the fifth year of the renewal period, you and your advisor should submit the Application for License Renewal, documentation, and fee to the chief executive officer or designee of the employing educational agency.

You’re responsible for completing the following steps in order to accrue the 180 professional development points necessary for renewal during the five-year period in which you hold a valid license:

A.  Develop an individualized renewal plan based on your professional needs and goals, along with your school system’s staff development priorities; and,

B.  Initiate an annual meeting with your advisor, as necessary, to review, amend and verify your renewal plan and activities. The record should be completed and signed by the advisor after January 1 but before June 1 of the final year of your license’s validity period. (You can make changes to your individualized renewal plan during the annual review or at any other appropriate time in consultation with the advisor).

 


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