Certification Requirements to Become a Math Teacher
in Washington

Every year Washington’s math teachers help produce high school graduates that are prepared to be future leaders of critical industries. Last year Washington’s ACT math scores ranked among the top 10 in the nation.

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As you navigate the application process to become a math teacher in Washington, you will work with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the agency responsible for processing all certification applications. Although it may take years to become qualified for a Washington State teaching certificate, it will result in a long-term and deeply fulfilling career.

To become a certified math teacher in Washington you will need to complete the following steps:

Complete a Math Teacher Degree Program
Pass the Math Teacher Testing Requirements
Apply for a Teaching Certificate with a Mathematics Endorsement
Renew and Upgrade Your Certification



Step 1. Complete a Math Teacher Degree Program

One of the basic requirements to become a math teacher in Washington is to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in the field. Several colleges and universities in the state offer a mathematics degree program coupled with a teacher preparation program that will result in eligibility for a teaching certificate upon graduation.

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Students in these degree tracks usually start by completing courses in mathematics, such as:

  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Trigonometry
  • Statistics and probability
  • Calculus
  • Discrete mathematics
  • Advanced mathematics

As you move on to the pedagogical segment of your degree program, courses will focus on teaching mathematics in the classroom. Education and pedagogy will be front and center as you complete courses such as:

  • Mathematics teaching strategies
  • Fundamentals of education and pedagogy
  • Education psychology
  • Approach to teaching mathematics
  • Mathematics lesson planning resources
  • Student diversity
  • Mathematics student teaching

You will complete a student teaching segment towards the end of your mathematics teacher preparation program. This is a valuable opportunity in which you will gain real-life teaching experience in a supervised environment. The mentor math teacher you are paired with will also provide you with helpful feedback on what you can do to modify your teaching style or lesson plans.

Alternative Situations

Many prospective math teachers may have already completed at least a bachelor’s degree in the field of mathematics, but have not attended a teacher preparation program. If this is the case for you, you will need to complete an approved teacher preparation program in mathematics at the post-bachelor’s level. These programs are offered in varying formats:

  • As traditional post-baccalaureate or master’s degree programs that include a student teaching segment
  • As alternate routes to certification programs available because mathematics is a core academic area that often experiences shortages of qualified teachers. For this reason, many teacher preparation programs offer a route to teaching certification that involves an on-the-job mentored experience instead of student teaching. The Washington Professional Educator Standards Board has identified several routes as alternative pathways for teacher certification that may be completed when it is deemed that there is a shortage of math teachers:
    • Route 1 – If you have an associate’s degree and are employed by a school district, you may participate in a mentoring program and begin teaching while you complete your math teacher bachelor’s degree
    • Route 2 – If you have a bachelor’s degree and are employed by a school district, you may start teaching while participating in a mentoring program
    • Route 3 – If you have a bachelor’s degree in math you may also be permitted to teach if you complete an intensive summer teaching academy and then begin teaching while participating in a mentoring program

Out-of-State Teachers

If you have worked in a different state as a math teacher with a standard certification for at least three years then you will likely meet the math teacher certification requirements in Washington.

You will need to complete the testing requirements featured in Step 2 within the first year of your employment.



Step 2. Pass the Math Teacher Testing Requirements

Washington maintains its own unique testing program for prospective math teachers. You will need to pass two tests to be eligible for teaching certification, known as Washington Educator Skills Tests (WEST):

  • WEST-B: Basic test
  • WEST-E: Endorsement area test for mathematics


The WEST-B test evaluates you on areas of knowledge that all teachers in Washington State must possess. It is offered in the following three subsections:

  • Reading
    • Main and supporting ideas of a reading passage
    • Relationship among ideas in a selection
    • Reasoning to evaluate purpose, point of view, and intent
    • Word definition
    • Reading graphs and tables


  • Writing
    • Concept of audience
    • Logical development of ideas
    • Writing to communicate
    • Drafting and revisions
    • Basic writing conventions
    • Composition combining these elements


  • Mathematics
    • Numbers and basic operations
    • Measurement and geometry
    • Statistics and probability
    • Algebra

The mathematics section of the WEST-B should be particularly easy for you considering that you will have a bachelor’s degree in this subject.

You can qualify for an exemption from taking the specified WEST-B subject area subtests if you have National Board Certification or have attained at least the minimum indicated score on any of the following national exams:

  • Reading: SAT-500, ACT-22
  • Writing: SAT-490, ACT-8
  • Mathematics: SAT-515, ACT-22

If you are an experienced out-of-state teacher you are exempt from the WEST-B if you can submit any of the following:

  • Proof of passing the CBEST
  • Proof of passing the NES Essential Academic Skills Test
  • Proof of passing the Praxis series of tests with minimum subject-area scores of:
    • Reading-177 (325 on the computer-based test)
    • Writing-174 (321 on the computer-based test)
    • Mathematics-176 (325 on the computer-based test)

NES: National Evaluation Series™ (NES®) Tests

The NES is offered in two versions for prospective math teachers, depending on which grade levels you intend to teach. Both test are multiple choice and require a passing score of 240:

  • NES Mathematics for high school
    • 110 questions to be completed in 240 minutes, covering:
      • Algebra and functions – 28%
      • Mathematics process – 16%
      • Geometry and measurement – 16%
      • Discrete mathematics, probability, and statistics – 16%
      • Operations and numbers – 12%
      • Calculus – 12%


  • NES Middle Level Mathematics for middle school
    • 110 questions to be completed in 225 minutes, covering:
      • Operations and numbers – 22%
      • Geometry and measurement – 22%
      • Calculus and algebra – 22%
      • Statistics, probability, and discrete mathematics – 17%
      • Processes of mathematics – 17%



Step 3. Apply for a Teaching Certificate with a Mathematics Endorsement

Once you have completed the steps up to this point you will be ready to apply for your first teaching certificate. This is known as the Residency Certificate. You can complete an application online.

You must have your fingerprints scanned at any Educational Service District office, or you can contact an official agency that conducts non-criminal background checks.

If your application is successful then you will receive your Residency Certificate, First Issue. This is valid until you are employed full time for 1.5 years, at which point you will need to have it reissued. Once it is reissued it will be valid for another three years.



Step 4. Renew and Upgrade Your Certification

Once you have been employed with a Residency Certificate, First Issue for 1.5 years you will be eligible to enroll in the ProTeach assessment program. Once you enroll in ProTeach you can have your Residency Certificate reissued for another three years.

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Teachers are encouraged to upgrade their Residency Certificate to a Professional Certificate, which can be done by completing a ProTeach or National Board assessment. However if you do not complete one of these assessments within the three years that your reissued Residency Certificate is valid, you will be allowed to renew your Residency Certificate once. To renew your Residency Certificate you will need to:

  • Attest that you intend to complete the ProTeach assessment
  • Already be a candidate under consideration for National Board Certification

Once you attest to one of these your renewed Residency Certificate will then be valid for an additional two years. However as stated, instead of renewing your Residency Certificate, you are encouraged to complete the ProTeach assessment and then upgrade to a Professional Certificate.

You can also upgrade to a Professional Certificate if you have National Board Certification. The Professional Certificate is valid for five years and can be renewed once you have completed 150 hours of continuing education that relates to your improvement as a teacher in general, or specifically in the field of mathematics.

ProTeach Assessment and National Board Certification

These programs are assessments that determine if you meet certain standards of teaching excellence. They do this by examining samples of your math teaching and evaluating you based on test scores. For each program, you will submit a portfolio with evidence of your teaching abilities that will be measured against key skills such as:

  • Teaching capabilities
  • Contributions to the profession of mathematics
  • Steps you have taken for professional development
  • Effectiveness of your teaching

Both these programs are completed over the course of at least an academic year. ProTeach is a Washington State assessment program affiliated with the Washington Professional Educator Standards Board.

National Board Certification is a program offered through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), a non-profit organization dedicated to the improvement of teaching across the country. It offers two different certifications depending on the level of mathematics you teach:

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