Certification Requirements to Become a Math Teacher in Hawaii

Prospective math teachers in Hawaii will need to meet high standards in order to obtain their teaching license from the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board. Every year new math teachers begin their careers in Hawaii by meeting the requirements established and maintained by the board.

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There are several routes to becoming a licensed math teacher in Hawaii. This guide will make the process easy to understand no matter what your situation. The basic math teacher certification requirements in Hawaii proceed through the following steps:

Complete a Math Teacher Degree Program
Complete the Testing Requirements
Obtain a Math Teaching License
Renew and Upgrade Your Teaching License
Professional Development Opportunities



Step 1. Complete a Math Teacher Degree Program

Several schools in Hawaii offer bachelor’s degree programs for prospective math teachers. These programs will include courses in mathematical concepts as well as pedagogy, and result in a bachelor’s degree that grants eligibility for a teaching certificate in Hawaii.

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The segment of your degree program that focuses on pedagogy and teaching is what is referred to as a State-Approved Teacher Education Program (SATEP). Your SATEP will focus on pedagogical strategies for teaching mathematical concepts.

An important part of a traditional SATEP is student teaching, in which you will be placed in a classroom with an experienced math teacher who will help you get used to an increasingly responsible role as an independent instructor.

Your student teaching supervisor will also provide you with valuable feedback that you can use as you construct lesson plans and develop teaching strategies.

State-Approved Teacher Education Programs (SATEPs)

Besides the traditional SATEPs already discussed, there are also alternative SATEPs for candidates who already have at least a bachelor’s degree but have yet to complete an educator program. The Teacher Standards Board maintains a list of all SATEPs in Hawaii, where you will find:

  • 4 traditional SATEPs in mathematics for grades 6-12
  • 8 post-baccalaureate SATEPs in mathematics for grades 6-12
  • 5 master’s degree SATEPs in mathematics for grades 6-12

SATEPs can be:

  • Traditional – meaning they include pedagogy lessons for approximately one year followed by student teaching
  • Alternative – meaning they include an initial intensive pedagogy segment followed by mentoring and on-the-job classroom experience

You will need to check the entrance requirements for each SATEP you are interested in attending.

Math teachers are not specifically licensed below the 6th grade. This is because elementary educators fill this role and include mathematics as one of many subjects they teach.

Out-of-State Applicants

If you have at least three years of licensed teaching experience in mathematics you are eligible for the standard Hawaiian teaching license once you have completed the testing requirements. If you have less than three years of teaching experience, you will need to complete a post-bachelor’s SATEP to meet the math teacher certification requirements in Hawaii.



Step 2. Complete the Testing Requirements

There are several tests you will potentially need to complete in order to meet the requirements for math teacher jobs in Hawaii. These tests are administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) and include:

  • Core Academic Skills for Educators
  • Mathematics skills tests
  • Principles of Learning and Teaching – if you have not completed a SATEP

Core Academic Skills for Educators

The Core Academic Skills for Educators tests your basic knowledge in three subject areas that have been deemed critical by the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board. These are available separately or you may register to take them at once in a combined test. This exam covers:

Mathematics Skills Tests

You will also need to pass a skills test that is specific to the area of mathematics. Which test you take depends on the grade levels you intend to teach:

The following study guides will help you prepare for your respective test, which includes the following types of questions:

    • Middle School Mathematics – two hours to complete 55 multiple-choice and numeric response questions:
      • 62 percent covers the subjects of algebra and arithmetic
      • 38 percent covers the subjects of geometry and data


  • Mathematics: Content Knowledge – 150 minutes to complete 60 questions:
    • 68 percent covers the subjects of calculus, number quantity, functions, and algebra
    • 32 percent covers the subjects of discrete mathematics, probability, statistics, and geometry

Principles of Learning and Teaching

You will need to pass this exam if you have not completed a SATEP, which would likely be the case if you are an experienced out-of-state teacher. This exam is available in several versions, and you should choose the test that most closely reflects your teaching goals:

The test covers the essentials of pedagogy and teaching that you will need to be an effective math teacher.



Step 3. Obtain a Math Teaching License

After completing the previous steps, you should now be ready to complete an application for certification as a math teacher. You can apply by submitting a paper application to the Teacher Standards Board in Honolulu, or online. Your first application will be for a renewable 5-year Standard Teaching License. A $240 licensing fee applies.

Your application process will be different if you are becoming a math teacher in Hawaii through an alternative SATEP. In this case you will need to complete the required testing from Step 2 as well as a performance test determined by your alternative SATEP. Once you have fulfilled these requirements your SATEP will recommend you to the Teacher Standards Board for licensure as a math teacher.



Step 4. Renew and Upgrade Your Teaching License

After five years it will be time to renew your teaching license, a task you can complete either online or via a paper renewal form. You will need to maintain two important documents pertaining to your license:

You will not need to submit these as part of the renewal application unless you are the subject of an audit. Form 5010 details 10 standardized areas in which you will need to demonstrate proof of proficiency- required for renewal. As outlined on the form, you have several options for proving proficiency in the areas of:

  • Professional development and ethical practice
  • Instructional planning for your math lesson plans
  • Application of mathematical concepts
  • Learning environments
  • Student ability development in mathematics
  • Learning differences
  • Math content knowledge
  • Math testing and assessments
  • Math instructional strategies
  • Collaboration and leadership

To upgrade your license to an Advanced Hawaii Teaching License, which is valid for 10 years, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Have at least five years of full-time teaching experience in the past eight years
  • Have a standard 5-year Hawaii teaching license
  • Have one of the following:
    • At least a master’s degree or specialist degree in mathematics
    • Be certified in mathematics by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)



Step 5. Professional Development Opportunities

As you become an experienced math teacher in Hawaii you may wish to consider the options for advocacy and development, as well as for branching out into the professional community. There are several Hawaii-based math teacher professional organizations, such as:

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  • SUPER-M is a program supported by the National Science Foundation whose goal is the design of developmentally-based engaging and innovative activities in mathematics for students in grades K-12. As part of SUPER-M, math teachers partner with university students to put their heads together to achieve the best curriculum design.
  • Hawaii Council of Teachers of Mathematics (HCTM) is an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, HCTM supports math teachers across Hawaii with the ultimate goal of creating the most enlightening experience for classroom students by providing teachers with the highest quality of professional development opportunities.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is another organization where you can develop your math teaching capabilities by obtaining certification according to the grade levels you teach:

Gaining one of these certifications can help to qualify you for an Advanced Teaching License in Hawaii and will also demonstrate a high level of competency in your area. Sometimes referred to as National Board Certification, this can be accomplished by submitting a portfolio of materials to the NBPTS that demonstrates your teaching expertise and effectiveness. These materials are collected over the course of a year and submitted for review by NBPTS professionals.

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