The Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) works to ensure that Washington’s students have courses and support services from appropriately credentialed educators. One way PESB does this is through assignment policy: matching teacher endorsements with courses, and matching certificates with educator roles.
Assignment policy is set at the state level but offers local flexibility. School districts may set their own additional hiring requirements as long as state policy is also met. While districts are allowed flexibility under state assignment policy to meet workforce needs, it is important to prioritize student access to appropriately credentialed educators.
State and federal policy beyond course and endorsement matches provide specific criteria in certain program and content areas. In addition, certain organizations set requirements for their associated courses. See options for specific content areas and programs below.
Remote learning and alternative schedules
Assignment policy provides districts flexibility in considering remote learning, alternative schedules, mastery based learning, new calendars, and other options.
Assignment policy for teachers is based on the matching of endorsements to courses. The mode of instruction, such as remote or hybrid learning, does not change the underlying table matching endorsements to CEDARS course codes. Districts must still follow the same policy for placing teachers out-of-endorsement: school board approval and a plan of support for the teacher.
As school schedules and modes of instruction are modified in response to public health concerns, school districts should be prepared to consider assignment policy. School board approval is required for out-of-endorsement assignments, and for conditional certificates. The assignment of educators is generally handled by district and building administrators, and human resources staff.
Changing schedules for the upcoming school year may result in a relatively large number of teachers out-of-endorsement. While districts are allowed flexibility under state assignment policy to meet workforce needs, it is important to prioritize student access to appropriately credentialed educators.
Matching endorsements with courses
PESB establishes a table matching teacher endorsements to courses. This assignment tool can be used to determine which courses are matched with which endorsements so that a teacher remains in endorsement. Course names and codes are published annually by OSPI CEDARS.
- For questions on matching endorsements to courses, certificate types to roles, or on using the PESB assignment table, contact PESB at email@example.com.
- For questions on district reporting requirements, student program area assignment requisites, or course names and course codes, contact the OSPI Title II, Part A program office at Title2A@k12.wa.us.
A teacher may teach outside of their endorsement area if certain conditions are met. If individuals are assigned outside of their endorsement area, the following need to happen:
- The out-of-endorsement assignment needs to be approved by the local school board.
- The district and the teacher mutually develop a written plan of support for the teacher.
- Teachers are not subject to nonrenewal or probation based on evaluations of their teaching effectiveness in the out-of-endorsement assignments.
Teachers with a residency, professional, emergency, transitional, endorsed initial, or endorsed continuing certificate may teach out-of-endorsement under this policy. For other certificates types, please see the “Certificate types and assignment policy” section below (WAC 181-82-110).
Plans of support for out-of-endorsement teaching
Plans of support for out-of-endorsement teaching must be mutually developed by the teacher and the school district. The written plan needs to provide the teacher with a reasonable amount of time for planning and studying related to the out-of-endorsement assignment.
These plans might include mentoring, time for lesson planning, PLC time with teachers in the content area, taking a course, independent study, and so on. The plan does not have to include acquiring the endorsement, although it may (WAC 181-82-110).
Educational staff associates (ESAs)
Educational staff associates (ESAs) provide education and health services to students in Washington State. There are nine ESA roles. Educators must hold the ESA certificate specific to their role. For example, school counselors must hold a school counselor ESA certificate. Learn more about ESA assignment policy.
A district may contract with an external provider who does not hold an ESA certificate unless they are supporting students with services as listed under an individualized education program (IEP). ESA certification is required in order to provide specially designed instruction or related services under an IEP (WAC 392-172A-02090).
All contracted providers serving in these roles must hold the relevant state or national license. The requirements of state or national licensing, in addition to the school ESA certificate, differ for each of these roles. Though they are not required to do so, many school districts choose to require ESA certification or other conditions as part of a personal services or agency contract.
The OSPI Special Education office can respond to inquiries on specially designed instruction or related services at 360-725-6075 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Telepractice: ESAs providing services through telepractice are subject to the same Washington ESA certification and licensure regulations as those providing in-person services. There are no Professional Educators Standard Board (PESB) regulations that would prevent any of the Washington State educator roles from practicing virtually.
Some other states require individuals providing telepractice services to have the appropriate certificate for both the state they are providing services from, and the state they are providing services to, so it is important for individuals to inquire with both states.
If funded by the Legislature, paraeducators must receive training on the Fundamental Course of Study and the General Paraeducator Certificate by their district.
Adding an endorsement
Educators who already hold a teacher certificate can add an endorsement through one of the following pathways:
- Test only: Certain endorsements can be added by passing a content knowledge assessment.
- Program plus test: Other endorsements require completion of an approved endorsement program in addition to passing a content knowledge assessment.
- National Board certification: Some endorsements can be added through achieving National Board certification.
Learn more about applying to add an endorsement through the OSPI certification office.
Financial support for adding an endorsement: The educator retooling conditional loan scholarship provides financial support to Washington State certified educators seeking to add a teaching endorsement in a shortage area. Learn more about the educator retooling conditional loan scholarship.
Guidance for grade levels
Some endorsements include a developmental level: early childhood, elementary, or middle level (WAC 181-82-201). These levels are provided for guidance purposes only, and are not requirements for educator placement. School districts can consider the following when pairing a teacher’s endorsement with a grade designation:
- Early childhood: Birth to third grade
- Elementary: Kindergarten to grade eight
- Middle level: Grade four to grade nine
Additional requirements for specific content areas and programs
Some content areas and programs have specific certification and endorsement requirements in addition to the matching of endorsements with courses.
Options are available to address staffing shortages in special education. Individuals who have completed some, but not all, of the requirements for a special education endorsement might qualify for a pre-endorsement waiver or a temporary out-of-endorsement placement.
A pre-endorsement waiver allows an individual to perform the duties of a special education teacher, such as writing IEPs. The requirements for this waiver include an application to the OSPI special education office and completing 24 quarter credits (16 semester credits), or the equivalent in clock hours, applicable to a special education endorsement (WAC 181-82-110(4) and 392-172A-02090(2)(a)).
A temporary out-of-endorsement assignment is handled at the district level. A special education endorsed teacher in the district must design and supervise the instruction, as well as monitor and evaluate the progress of students assigned to the unendorsed teacher. This temporary assignment requires a mutually agreed upon written plan of support and school board approval. The school district is responsible for determining that the assigned teacher has completed nine quarter hours (six semester hours) of course work applicable to a special education endorsement (WAC 392-172A-02090(2)(b)).
Visit the OSPI special education office website to learn more about the pre-endorsement waiver, the temporary out-of-endorsement placement, and how to apply.
Career and Technical Education (CTE)
Instruction of CTE courses
Educators must have a CTE certificate with a broad area or specialty area specific to the CTE course they are instructing. These certification requirements may be tied to funding. For information on requirements for instructing CTE courses, please contact the OSPI Career and Technical Education office, and see the CTE CIP code (course code) and V-code (area code) chart (PDF).
CTE teachers instructing non-CTE courses
Educators who have completed Plan 1 (college and university) route CTE programs, and hold residency, professional, or continuing teacher certificates may teach non-CTE courses on the same out-of-endorsement basis that other teachers can. These educators may also add endorsements in the same way as other teachers.
Educators who have completed Plan 2 (business and industry) route CTE programs, and hold an initial or continuing CTE teacher certificate, may not teach non-CTE courses. In order to teach non-CTE courses, these individuals must obtain a residency or conditional teacher certificate.
CTE certificates with math applied, science applied, or designated science applied areas are matched with all the non-CTE courses as these same teacher endorsements.
Individuals who hold or have held a continuing CTE teacher certificate are eligible to apply for a substitute certificate, and with this substitute certificate, they may substitute in non-CTE courses.
Visual and performing arts
Visual and performing arts courses must be taught by educators holding an arts endorsement. Educators holding an elementary education (K-8) and/or early childhood education (PK-3) endorsement may be assigned to arts courses at the appropriate developmental levels for which they are prepared. Learn more about the policy details (document).
School districts make the decision as to whether or not a teacher librarian needs to hold a library media endorsement. Learn more about the policy details (document).
English language development
Classroom teachers funded through the English language development program (Transitional Bilingual Instruction Program or TBIP) are required to hold bilingual education or English language learner (ELL) endorsements. Please contact the OSPI bilingual education program for more information.
Outside of the TBIP program, regular out-of-endorsement policy applies.
Title I, Part A
Title I, Part A is a federal program designed to provide all children with the significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps. The OSPI Title II, Part A program office at Title2A@k12.wa.us can provide information on the professional qualification and notification requirements for this program.
Providers of Braille instruction must demonstrate competency in Unified English Braille.
Certificated providers of Braille instruction hold an educator certificate and are assigned to provide instruction in Braille to students.
Classified providers of Braille instruction produce Braille materials or provide instruction in Braille to students. They work under the supervision of certificated staff.
What are the requirements for providers of Braille instruction?
Successful completion of one of the following:
- the Braille competency test developed by Washington State School for the Blind, or
- the National Literary Braille Competency Test
Each school district is responsible for monitoring the appropriate assignment of providers of Braille instruction. Individuals have one year from the date of hire to successfully pass the testing requirements. Individuals must pass a recertification exam every five years.
Dual credit provides students with the potential to earn high school and college credit at the same time.
Dual credit courses have state level requirements for teachers including specific endorsements or types of certificates, and they may also have program-specific requirements. For example, Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses are matched with Washington State endorsements in the same way that other courses are.
Endorsement matches for these courses are found using PESB’s assignment tool, and out-of-endorsement policy can apply.
- In addition to state endorsement requirements, the College Board sets criteria for the teaching of AP courses.
- Similarly, there are other requirements in addition to state endorsements for teaching IB courses.
School districts interested in offering dual credit should consult with the specific program of interest, and further questions can be directed to the OSPI dual credit office.
Schools who participate in, or are interested in Cambridge International, can visit their website for requirements for teaching CI.
Teachers assigned to teach College in the High School (CHS) need to be approved by the college or university supporting the high school course. Colleges and universities who participate in CHS post their specific teaching requirements on their website and are responsible for determining policies and practices for these courses.
Online learning can be offered through approved online school programs and course providers. In these online programs, the instructors are required to hold a Washington State teacher certificate, and out-of-endorsement policy applies as it would to in-person learning. Find out more from the OSPI online learning office.
Contracted third party online course providers are required to provide instructors with a Washington State teacher certificate and an endorsement in their content area.
All districts providing remote instruction must ensure that all teachers hold a valid Washington State teacher certificate even if they are not using an OSPI approved online provider. RCW 28A.410.025.
First Peoples’ Language, Culture, and Oral Traditions Certification
First Peoples’ languages are falling silent. This is a loss to the cultural heritage of the affected tribes and to the cultural resources of Washington State. Teaching First Peoples’ languages can be a critical factor in successful educational experiences and promoting cultural sensitivity for all students. Find out more about First Peoples’ certificates.
PESB maintains government-to-government agreements with the sovereign tribal nations who set the specific requirements for these certificates, but the certificates themselves are Washington state teacher certificates.
PESB does not set policy on compensation, but there is nothing in PESB policy that would imply a different compensation scale for holders of First Peoples’ Certificates than for holders of any other teacher certificate.
Teachers holding a First Peoples’ language, culture, and oral tribal traditions certificate may only be assigned to the language(s)/culture(s) on the certificate unless they also hold a valid teacher certificate with other endorsement areas (WAC 181-78A-700; WAC 181-79A-140).
For all of these programs, assignment policy applies as it would to other courses, and individuals should consult the individual program for program-specific requirements.
Certificate types and assignment policy
Teachers with residency, professional, transitional, emergency, endorsed initial, or endorsed continuing certificates are eligible for placement on an out-of-endorsement basis (document). Teachers with a permit for a certificate are subject to the assignment policy for that specific certificate.
Limited and substitute certificates
Limited certificates require the request of a school employer and application by the educator. Individuals with a limited certificate may only serve in the district which requested the certificate (WAC 181-79a-231).
Conditional. Teachers with conditional certificates may not be placed out-of-endorsement. However, school districts may request additional endorsements for conditional certificates through the OSPI certification office.
Conditional CTE. Educators must have a CTE certificate with a broad area or specialty area specific to the CTE course they are instructing. These certification requirements may be tied to funding. For information on requirements for instructing CTE courses, please contact the OSPI Career and Technical Education office, and see the CTE CIP code (course code) and V-code (area code) chart (PDF). Find out more about the requirements and request process for conditional CTE certificates.
Transitional. Teachers with a transitional certificate are eligible for placement on an out-of-endorsement basis. Find out more about transitional certificates.
Guidance on assigning substitutes and certificates can be found in this document.
Emergency substitute. Individuals with emergency substitute certificates may only serve as substitutes if the district has exhausted or reasonably anticipates it will exhaust its list of qualified substitutes. Emergency substitute certificates do not hold an endorsement, and as such, the individual is neither in- nor out-of-endorsement. Learn more about emergency substitute certificates.
Intern substitute. Individuals with an intern substitute certificate can serve as substitutes in the absence of their cooperating teacher(s). They may serve only in the classroom(s) to which they have been assigned as a student teacher or intern. Intern substitute certificates do not hold an endorsement, and as such, the individual is neither in- nor out-of-endorsement. Find out more about intern substitute certificates.
Substitute. The “lifetime” substitute certificate is not a limited certificate and the application for this certificate can be initiated by the individual. Individuals with a substitute certificate may serve in any district in the state. Substitute certificates do not hold an endorsement, and as such, the individual is neither in- nor out-of-endorsement.
A substitute may serve in one assignment during the absence of regularly certificated staff for up to one hundred eighty days in a school year.
If an individual with a substitute certificate serves in a single assignment for more than thirty days, the employer must develop a plan of professional learning that is appropriate to the assignment and designed to support professional growth. This plan must enhance the teacher’s instructional knowledge and skills in order to assist students in meeting the state learning goals. The plan must be developed within fifty days of beginning of the assignment (WAC 181-79a-232).
Learn more about the requirements for obtaining a substitute certificate.