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Teaching Programs in Georgia

There are nearly 1.6 million pre–K through grade 12 students in Georgia’s public school system—there is also a teacher shortage. Schools are actively hiring for teachers at all levels.

Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (GPEE), a nonpartisan group, released its 15th edition of the “Top Ten Issues to Watch in 2019.” The report examined 10 pressing matters in the state, including lower-than-average graduation rates and deficiencies in reading and math skills. Qualified teachers can play a critical role in offsetting these statistics by providing children with a strong educational foundation.

If you’re looking to make a difference in this southern state, keep reading to learn more about becoming a teacher in Georgia.

How to Become a Teacher in Georgia

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC), which was established to oversee the preparation, certification, and professional conduct of teachers in Georgia public schools, offers the following guidelines for those embarking on a teaching career:

  1. Decide on a grade level. Georgia educator certificates are divvied up among ages and grades accordingly: birth through kindergarten, elementary education (pre-K through fifth grade), middle grades (fourth through eighth), and secondary (sixth through 12th). P-12 certification refers to fields such as art, music, and physical education in which you can teach across grade levels.
  2. Choose a subject area. While elementary school teachers usually teach everything—social studies, math, language arts, etc.—middle and secondary teachers focus on a specific subject. A middle school teacher might focus on a broader subject area, whereas a high school teacher usually teaches a specific subject such as math or science. Depending on the subject area, you may or may not need a degree in that field, but you will need to meet certain requirements to teach it. You can view particular requirements using the GaPSC Certificate Explorer tool.

Additionally, Georgia recognizes two primary special education fields: general curriculum and adapted curriculum. Teachers in the former work with students with mild disabilities, and teachers in the latter work with students with moderate to severe disabilities.

Traditional Teaching Route

If you’re looking to take the traditional teacher route in Georgia, you need to complete a GaPSC-approved or -accepted program. You can find approved programs on their website.

Per the GaPSC, an approved program will be:

  • Sanctioned by the state educator certification office where the university is located. Again, for Georgia, that’s the GaPSC.
  • One that will lead to initial certification.
  • One that includes student teaching, an education practicum, or field experiences. As of July 1, 2015, educator candidates in the state need a Pre-Service certificate to complete student teaching or field experiences.

Except for a couple of particular fields, such as agricultural education, a bachelor’s degree from an approved program is the minimum requirement to be a teacher in Georgia. This typically takes four years to complete.

You’ll also need to fulfill requirements for the Induction Pathway 1 (if you’re attending a program in the state), Induction Pathway 2 (if you’re attending a program in another state but completing field experiences in Georgia), or Induction Pathway 3 (if you’re completing both a program and field experiences in a different state) certificate. This certificate is for entry-level educators with under three years of experience. Additionally, teachers must meet other guidelines to qualify for a professional certificate.

There are varying requirements for Induction Pathways 1 through 3. For the most part, candidates must have:

  1. Completed an approved program
  2. A passing score on the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) Program Admission Assessment or an exemption
  3. An induction level or higher passing score on the GACE Content Assessment
  4. Completed the Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment—Program Entry and have a passing score on the Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment—Program Exit, as of January 1, 2015
  5. Completed a course in identifying and educating exceptional children

Again, you’ll want to review the requirements you need to fulfill for your specific circumstance.

If you’ve finished a bachelor’s degree program, you may consider pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching or Master of Education program. Graduation requirements will vary depending on the program you choose to attend.

Alternative Teacher Certification

If you have a bachelor’s degree in a non-education area, you may be able to pursue an alternative or non-traditional path to a teaching career in Georgia.

An Induction Pathway 4 certificate is a three-year certificate that allows candidates to teach in a Local Unit of Administration (LUA) while completing a certification program. The certificate is non-renewable, and you must complete an Educator Preparation Program during this timeframe.

Induction Pathway 4 qualifications include having:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or higher (other stipulations apply)
  2. A passing score on the GACE Program Admission Assessment or an exemption
  3. An induction level or higher passing score on the GACE Content Assessment
  4. A passing score on the Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment–Program Entry, as of January 1, 2015

You must complete all the program requirements. Achieving a passing score on the edTPA, the GaPSC-approved content pedagogy assessment, is also necessary to achieve a professional certificate.

The GaPSC may accept a combination of education, experience, and industry certification for prospective career and technical education teachers going the alternative route. You can find more information on their website.

Licensure in Georgia

To become a candidate for licensure you must earn a bachelor’s degree; complete student teaching, an education practicum, or field experiences; secure a Pre-Service internship; and take any required tests and courses. Afterward, you may apply for their Induction certificate through the GaPSC to become a professional teacher.

You’ll need the following supporting documents:

  • Official transcripts showing proof of a bachelor’s degree
  • Proof of completion of an approved teacher preparation program
  • Passing score on the appropriate GACE
  • Completed application for certification
  • FBI background check (fingerprint) and a state criminal history check (every five years)
  • Payment of non-refundable processing fee

Here’s a refresher on the exams:

  • GACE Program Admission Assessment: A basic skills assessment composed of three parts—reading, mathematics, and writing. Certain SAT, ACT, or (Graduate Record Examinations) GRE scores are eligible to satisfy the program admission assessment requirements, as well.
  • GACE Content Knowledge Assessment: Applicants must pass the assessment related to their field of certification (there are exceptions). The two passing levels are Induction and Professional.
  • Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment—Program Entry: Designed to teach and assess ethical skills and decision making. Applicants must complete this if they enrolled in an educator preparation program after July 1, 2014, or if they’re pursuing an Induction Pathway 4 teaching certificate.
  • Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment —Program Exit: The following applicants must pass this—those going for Induction Pathway 1 or 2 certificates, converting Induction Pathway 3 or 4 certificates, or going for an extension of an initial permit.
  • edTPA, the GaPSC-approved content pedagogy assessment: A performance-based assessment that measures and supports the skills teachers need in the classroom. A passing score is required for Induction Pathway 1, 2, or 4 applicants who completed their clinical practice, student teaching, or other state-issued program requirements after September 1, 2015.

You may have a slightly different path to licensure depending on your Induction Pathway level and whether you qualify for exemptions on any assessments. Refer to the requirements needed for your particular situation.

Paying for Your Education

There are a few ways you can pay for your education—from low-interest loans to scholarships to other education-work incentives.

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid: Federal Student Aid is an office of the U.S. Department of Education. You can fill out the FAFSA to see if you qualify for subsidized and unsubsidized loans, scholarships, and grant money.
  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program: Under this government program, you may be eligible to have up to $17,500 of your direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans forgiven if you teach full time in a low-income school district for five years. Visit the website to see the full list of requirements.
  • GAfutures: You can search this database to comb through thousands of different scholarships. You can even narrow your search down to specific education majors.
  • Georgia Student Finance Commission: The commission students discover financial aid options to make school more affordable.

Career Outlook for Educators in Georgia

The career outlook for educators in Georgia is more than twice the national average: For K–12 educators in Georgia job growth is expected to be 15% between 2016 and 2026, according to CareerOneStop. This is more than twice the projected national average.

Georgia Mean Teaching Salaries (2018)
Elementary:$56,360 per year
Middle School:$58,190 per year
Secondary:$58,050 per year
Post-Secondary:$83,589 per year (averaged from all mean salaries)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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