Educator certification is the process of documenting an individual’s qualifications to practice teaching, administration, or special services in a public school. The standards and regulations of certification are dynamic and reflect the complex political and social issues that affect public education in the United States. The underlying purpose for certification is to ensure high-quality, competent educators.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, teachers were hired based on their ability to pass a locally accepted evaluation and the possession of “good moral character.” Over time, states exerted more control over certification, and institutions of higher education developed pedagogy-based programs in efforts to boost professionalism. Typical requirements for new teachers in the 21st century include a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, completion of an approved program of teacher ...

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