Licensure is the key when it comes to learning how to become a teacher in Kansas. A teaching license certifies educators to teach in K-12 schools. Kansas teacher certificate requirements vary somewhat from those found in other states. Kansas offers teaching candidates multiple routes to licensure through a number of different certifications. Teachers typically start out by earning an Initial Teaching License. Following this, many educators go on to acquire a Professional Teaching License and some will pursue an Accomplished Teaching License. Alternate paths to teaching in Kansas include Substitute Teaching Licenses, Restricted Teaching Licenses, and using out-of-state certifications that match or exceed in-state licensure requirements.
However, before a teaching candidate can get a standard teaching license, they have to satisfy Kansas' certification and licensure requirements. First-time teachers will want to focus on the requirements for an Initial Teaching License as that is what they will be aiming for. To be eligible for an Initial Teaching License, prospective educators in Kansas must:
Hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
Complete a state-approved teacher certification program
Pass the content and pedagogy assessment tests related to their discipline
Have 8 credit hours or a year's worth of accredited teaching experience earned within the past 6 years
The content and pedagogy assessments generally taken by Kansas teaching candidates are the Praxis exams offered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Within the Kansas State Department of Education the Teacher Licensure and Accreditation (TLA) team oversees teacher certification and decides which tests educators must take.
What Are the Kansas Teaching License Requirements?
Obtaining a Kansas teaching license typically requires candidates to satisfy multiple requirements meant to show that they are prepared to teach in both an educational and professional capacity. The process of how to get a teaching license in Kansas differs based on a candidate's level of experience and if they are an in-state or out-of-state educator.
Assuming a teaching candidate is just starting out in Kansas, they will have to earn a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. While earning their degree, teaching candidates will complete an approved teacher certification program, usually one that is affiliated with their college or university. During this process, they will generally satisfy the recency requirement, meaning they have finished at least eight credit hours or a year's worth of accredited teaching experience. For the purposes of licensure, both experience options are viable for six years. Finally, teaching candidates must pass two types of assessments: content and pedagogy. Content exams demonstrate that educators are knowledgeable enough to teach their subject matter area(s), while pedagogy tests focus on the responsibilities teachers have to students and their parents. In-state teaching candidates are expected to take the relevant Praxis Subject Assessment to demonstrate their content competency and the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) exam matching the grade range they intend to teach to cover the pedagogy requirement. Out-of-state applicants who have completed comparable assessments may not have to take any Praxis exam, though this is mainly limited to certified teachers who already hold comparable credentials.
When all of these requirements are met, teaching candidates are then able to apply for their Initial Teaching License. Beyond the Initial Teaching License, Kansas has two higher tiers of standard teacher certification: Professional and Accomplished. In Kansas, teaching license renewal periods vary between tiers and this applies to both standard and alternative licenses.
Initial Teaching License
Each state sets their own Praxis passing scores for the exams.. Finals scores on Praxis exams are scaled from 100-200 and each content and pedagogy assessment has its own passing score. In Kansas, passing scores for content exams range from 141-166, while each pedagogy test can be passed with a score of 160; the exception is the PLT Praxis exam which has a passing score of 157. Once these and all other requirements have been met, a teaching candidate can apply for their Initial Teaching License.
In Kansas, Initial Teaching Licenses enable educators to teach at any public school in whatever subjects and grade ranges they are certified in. This tier of license is valid for two years before it has to be renewed.
Professional Teaching License
The Professional Teaching License is an upgraded version of the Initial Teaching License. The benefit of a Professional Teaching License over an Initial Teaching License is that the former is valid for five years before it has to be renewed. This is because the requirements for earning one demonstrates a higher degree of professionalism. These requirements match those found in the Initial Teaching Licenses, but they come with some additions. The main difference is professional development points, which are awarded by professional development councils local to Kansas. Councils award these points based on educators' experience in their teacher certification programs and in their work as professional teachers. Educators who hold graduate degrees need 120 professional development points to upgrade their licenses whereas those with only a bachelor's degree need 160 points, 80 of which must come from college credits. Alternatively, three years of accredited teaching experience or National Board Certification can be used in place of professional development points.
Accomplished Teaching License
In terms of certification, the Accomplished Teaching License is the tier above the Professional Teaching License. To qualify for it, teachers in Kansas must already hold both a Professional Teaching License and a National Board Certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Out-of-state educators can apply with just a National Board Certification.
The Accomplished Teaching License is a professional distinction that can help job-seeking educators secure more prestigious positions. Similar to the Professional Teaching License, the Accomplished Teaching License is good for five years before it has to be renewed as it is tied to the status of one's National Board Certification. National Board Certificates issued after 2017 have to be renewed every five years, while those issued before then remain valid for ten years.
Alternative Teacher Certification Program
Another route available to those looking to become educators is the Kansas Restricted Teaching License. The Kansas State Department of Education intends these licenses for mid-career professionals with some background in the subject they wish to teach and who hold at least a bachelor's degree. Other requirements include a GPA of 2.75 or higher in the last six months of one's degree, a passing score for the Praxis II exams in the subject area, and completion of a Kansas alternative teacher certification program. This route is intended to fill job openings in school districts without compromising on qualifications. Once an educator receives their Restricted Teaching License, they will be able to work full time and work on professional development coursework that will go toward their full licensure.
Another route toward certification is out-of-state licensure. Kansas teacher certificate requirements differ by tier, but an educator from another state or country with the proper credentials can apply for an Initial, Professional, or Accomplished Teaching License. Kansas teaching certification out-of-state requirements generally look for credentials equal to or greater than those asked of in-state teaching candidates and educators. Beyond these two pathways one might also consider pursuing substitute teaching.
Kansas Standard Substitute Teaching License
Substitute teachers in Kansas have two certifications specific to their position:
The Kansas Standard Substitute Teaching License
Requires applicants to have a bachelor's degree
Complete a certified teacher preparation program
It is valid for two years before it has to be renewed
This license allows substitutes to teach at any public school in Kansas
The Emergency Substitute License
Only requires applicants to complete 60 credit hours from a regionally accredited college or university
The first such license an educator receives lasts for a year before expiring, and if they renew it, each subsequent Emergency Substitute License will be good for two years
This license also allows substitutes to teach at any public school in Kansas
Educators who hold an Initial, Professional, or Accomplished Teaching License do not need a substitute license to work as substitute teachers.
Kansas Teacher License Renewal Process
Each teaching license has its own validity period. This information can be found on the Kansas State Department of Education's website as well as on the licenses. Educators are encouraged to renew their licenses before they expire. They should do this at least 6-8 weeks in advance of the expiration date so as to give the renewal application time to process. If an educator's license expires, and they wish to continue teaching, they will have to apply for a Transitional License until their previous license is renewed. Renewing an expired license carries with it a $50 fee and can also require a fingerprint card to be mailed in; they may also need to undergo a background check.
Kansas teaching license renewal requirements change based on the tier of license. Initial Teaching Licenses can be renewed every two years, but if one is renewed more than five years after its first issuance, then the license holder must do one of the following:
Retake and pass their content and pedagogy assessments
Finish eight hours of credit related to their current license or through an approved teaching program
Complete one year of accredited experience
Earn 160 professional development points if they hold a bachelor's degree
Earn 120 professional development points if they hold a graduate degree, 80 of which must be credit hours
Similarly, those renewing their Professional Teaching Licenses must do one of the following:
Earn 120 professional development points if they hold a graduate degree, 60 of which must be credit hours
Earn 160 professional development points if they hold a bachelor's degree, 80 of which must be credit hours and 40 have to be college credits
Verify three years of teaching experience if the educator holds a graduate degree (this method can only be used to renew a Professional Teaching License twice in an educator's career)
Earn or renew one's National Board Certification
Renewing Substitute Licenses require educators to earn 50 professional development points from the professional development council where they live or work.
Katie Slaughter, M.A. has taught middle school science and math for over 6 years. She has helped lay a foundation for personalized learning in her school and has presented internationally about what she is doing in her classroom. She has successfully passed numerous Praxis exams. Katie completed a B.S. in Marine Science from Coastal Carolina University and an M.A. in Teaching from Georgetown College.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is required to become a teacher in Kansas?
To teach at any public school in Kansas one has to apply for and receive a teaching license from the Kansas State Department of Education. The Initial, Professional, and Accomplished Teaching Licenses are standard, though there are also Provisional, Restricted, Substitute, and Emergency Substitute Licenses.
How long does it take to become a teacher in Kansas?
To earn any of the standard teaching licenses in Kansas a teaching candidate must earn at least a bachelor's degree. Each of the other requirements for an Initial Teaching License can be fulfilled while enrolled in a four-year degree, so one can be eligible to apply for a teaching license in four years.
How do I get a Kansas teaching license?
Kansas teaching license requirements vary based on the type of license. Standard licenses expect applicants to have a bachelor's or master's degree, completion of a teacher preparation program, passing scores from relevant content and pedagogy assessments, and either a sufficient amount of credit hours or professional development points.