Every Child a Graduate. Every Graduate Prepared.

ALSDE: Teacher Education - FAQs




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Question:   How much will I be paid as a teacher?

Answer:   The State Minimum Salary Schedule for Teachers considers two factors – the number of years of work experience in public schools and the highest degree earned at a regionally accredited college or university. To view the schedule for 2004-2005, click here.


Question:   How soon will I be paid for my highest degree?

Answer:   That depends on how fast you obtain an official copy of your transcript with the highest degree posted on it and give it to your superintendent. The local superintendent is required to submit the official transcript and a Verification of Higher Degree form to the State Superintendent of Education in a timely manner. You are entitled to receive higher pay with the beginning of the next pay period after the State Superintendent of Education verifies the higher degree. However, if you are a nine-month employee and earn a higher degree at the end of the school year, your pay will not be increased until the next school year. The pay that you receive during the summer months has been withheld from the salary you earned before you earned a higher degree.


Question:   Does the State Minimum Salary Schedule for Teachers give credit for years of teaching in private schools?

Answer:   No, the schedule is based on years of work in public schools. A few Alabama school systems recognize years of work in private schools because those systems can afford to use local funds to supplement the state allocations.


Question:   Do I have to get a higher degree and certification in what I am doing now to get higher pay?

Answer:   Since 1996, the answer to your question has been “No.” A certified teacher is entitled to be paid for the highest degree s/he holds from a regionally accredited college or university (accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or a comparable regional accrediting agency in another area of the United States). That degree need not be related to the teacher’s assignment. For example, several teachers are being paid on the basis of holding degrees in business administration, divinity, law, etc. The significant factor is to be sure that the institution is regionally accredited before beginning a program of study.


Question:   What financial aid is available to help me earn a degree and/or a certificate?

Answer:   Information about grants and scholarships is available from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) web site. Click here for more information. In addition to funds available through ACHE, Alabama provides funds for qualified applicants through our Troops To Teachers program. For information about that program, click here.


Question:   Does Alabama provide financial and/or other assistance for persons concluding their military careers?

Answer:   Yes, Alabama participates in the Troops To Teachers program. For information about that program, click here.


Question:   What incentives will Alabama provide to get me to teach in Alabama?

Answer:   Some local school systems are able to provide incentives. For a list of our local education agencies, click here.


Question:   Where can I teach in Alabama so I can avoid repaying my federal student loan?

Answer:   Contact the Federal Programs Section in the Alabama State Department of Education at 334-242-8199) for information about the schools that are considered low-income (Title I).

Be aware that teaching in one of those schools allows you only a slight reduction in the amount of funds to be repaid.

Information about loan forgiveness is also available from the Federal Student Aid Hotline at 1-800-721-9720.


Question:   For what subjects is Alabama most in need of teachers?

Answer:   Although some school systems need teachers of all subjects, the subjects for which we have the most difficulty in finding teachers are science, mathematics, special education, foreign languages, the arts, and career/technical education (agriscience technology, business education, family and consumer sciences, technical education, and technology education). Alabama also needs counselors, librarians, and administrators.


Question:   Can I transfer my teaching experience in another state to Alabama?

Answer:   The Alabama State Minimum Salary Schedule for Teachers credits years of work in public schools in another state. To review the salary schedule, click here. Contact the Alabama Teachers’ Retirement System by clicking here for additional information about transferring your years of experience in another state.


Question:   If I have finished everything in my teacher education program except the internship, may I have the internship waived so I can get a teaching job now?

Answer:   The Alabama Administrative Code does not allow granting waivers.


Question:   Why do I have to take undergraduate courses before I can be admitted to an alternative master’s degree (fifth-year) program?

Answer:   By the time you earn certification at the master’s level (a Class A Professional Educator certificate), you must be as knowledgeable about the subject you are going to teach as if you had completed both a traditional bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in that subject. If your bachelor’s degree is in a subject other than what you are preparing to teach, it is quite likely that you will be required to take undergraduate courses in that subject as a requirement for admission to the master’s degree program.


Question:   May I student teach in my own classroom if I am in a Class B program?

Answer:   Yes, under the following circumstances:
  • The college or university where you are enrolled is willing for you to student teach in your own classroom. (The State Department of Education does not have standards that preclude you from doing so.)
  • The subject(s) and grade level(s) you are teaching are appropriate for your certification area. For example, your teaching must include both elementary and secondary students if your certificate will span both elementary and secondary grades.
  • You are teaching in a public school or a private school that is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
  • There is someone in your school who is willing to serve as your cooperating teacher and who is approved by your college or university because s/he holds at least a Class A certificate for his or her present assignment, is currently teaching classes in your area(s) of specialization, and has at least three years of educational experience in your area(s) of specialization
Be aware that Alabama law requires all teachers to hold valid certificates. Individuals holding only a Substitute Teacher License or an Emergency Certificate cannot be deemed highly qualified. Parents must be notified if students are taught for more than 20 consecutive days by a teacher who is not highly qualified.


Question:   Where can I find which institutions offer the teacher education program in which I am interested?

Answer:   For information on which colleges and universities offer programs in a specific teaching field, click here.


Question:   Do I have to give up my non-teaching job to do student teaching?

Answer:   Student teaching must be full-time in the schools for a full semester. If your non-teaching job conflicts with the hours when school is in session where you are assigned to student teach, you must give up that job to do student teaching or make other arrangements with your employer.


Question:   Can I finish the teacher education program I dropped out of years ago?

Answer:   Each college and university has its own policies about allowing students to complete programs that were in place years ago. You should contact the Teacher Certification Officer of the institution where you were enrolled to find out what policies are applicable to you. If you finished a teacher education program but did not apply for certification, ask the Teacher Certification Officer if s/he will recommend you for certification. If you are recommended for certification, you must meet all State certification requirements currently in place, including content area criteria under the No Child Left Behind Act, testing, and a criminal history background check.


Question:   How can I resolve a conflict with my college/university about my teacher education program?

Answer:   Follow the appeals process (grievance procedures) of the college/university where you are enrolled. Often that information is provided in a catalog or student handbook.


Question:   Does Alabama provide financial and/or other assistance for persons concluding their military careers?

Answer:   Yes, Alabama participates in the Troops To Teachers program. For information about that program, click here.


Question:   What incentives will Alabama provide to get me to teach in Alabama?

Answer:   Some local school systems are able to provide incentives. For a list of our local education agencies, click here.


Question:   For what subjects is Alabama most in need of teachers?

Answer:   Although some school systems need teachers of all subjects, the subjects for which we have the most difficulty in finding teachers are science, mathematics, special education, foreign languages, the arts, and career/technical education (agriscience technology, business education, family and consumer sciences, technical education, and technology education). Alabama also needs counselors, librarians, and administrators.


Question:   Where can I find information about "Highly Qualified Teachers"?

Answer:   The "Alabama Model for Identifying Highly Qualified Teachers--Revised 2006" may be accessed by clicking here.


Question:   How do I know if I am a highly qualified teacher?

Answer:   Highly qualified teacher status may be viewed on the Teacher Certification Portal by clicking here.


Question:   What options does an early childhood or elementary teacher have for becoming highly qualified?

Answer:  
  • The HOUSSE option may be used by an early childhood teacher or elementary teacher who has at least two years of public school teaching experience on that level. Click here for information about HOUSSE requirements and application materials
  • A passing score on the Praxis II exam for Elementary Education: Content Knowledge (test code 0014) may be used by a certified early childhood or elementary teacher. Use

Question:   What options does a middle school or secondary teacher of a core subject area have for becoming highly qualified?

Answer:  
  • The HOUSSE option may be used by a middle/secondary teacher who has at least two years of public school teaching experience on that level. Click here for information about HOUSSE requirements and application materials.

  • A middle school or secondary teacher of a core subject who holds valid certification can apply for highly qualified (HQ) status in the certification area by using Form SHQ and providing documentation of one of the following:
    • A Class A or Class AA Professional Educator Certificate endorsed in the HQ subject area requested.
    • Passing an Alabama-approved subject-specific test in the HQ subject area requested. Only scores from selected Praxis II assessments or the Alabama Initial Teacher Certification Test from the 1980s are acceptable. Click here for additional information about passing scores on Praxis II exams.
    • An undergraduate major in the HQ subject area requested.
    • A graduate degree in the subject area requested.
    • Coursework equivalent to an undergraduate academic major (at least 32 semester hours in the academic area with at least 19 upper division or graduate level semester hours) in the HQ subject area requested.
    • A Class A or Class AA certification in an area closely related to the HQ subject area requested and have 10 or more years of full-time teaching experience in the HQ subject area requested.
    • Five or more years of full-time teaching experience in the HQ subject area requested and a valid National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certificate.


Question:   How can P-12 teachers of art, dance, foreign languages, music, or theater become highly qualified?

Answer:   A middle school or secondary teacher who holds valid certification can apply for highly qualified status in the certification area by using Form SHQ and providing documentation of one of the following:
  • A Class A or Class AA Professional Educator Certification.
  • A passing score on an Alabama-approved subject-specific test in the HQ subject area requested. Only scores from selected Praxis II assessments or the Alabama Initial Teacher Certification Test from the 1980s are acceptable. Click here for additional information about passing scores on Praxis II exams.
  • An undergraduate major in the HQ subject area requested.
  • A graduate degree in the subject area requested.
  • Coursework equivalent to an undergraduate academic major (at least 32 semester hours in the academic area with at least 19 upper division or gradate level semester hours) in the HQ subject area requested.
  • A Class A or Class AA certification in an area closely related to the HQ subject area requested and have 10 or more years of full-time teaching experience in the HQ subject area requested.
  • Five or more years of full-time teaching experience in the HQ subject area requested and a valid National Board for Profession Teaching Standards Certificate.


Question:   Can any of the courses I took in education be applied toward highly qualified status?

Answer:   In most cases, no. Coursework with an education prefix may not be applied toward highly qualified status. The only exception is for an English language arts teacher who may use reading coursework toward highly qualified status.


Question:   I passed the National Teacher Exam in my teaching field or a subject-matter exam developed in a state other than Alabama. Can I use this score on my application for highly qualified status?

Answer:   No. Only scores from tests which have been validated for use in Alabama and approved for use by the Alabama Board of Education may be used to meet the criteria for highly qualified teachers.


Question:   I misplaced my highly qualified letter. How can I get another?

Answer:   Highly qualified teacher status may be viewed on the Teacher Certification Portal by clicking here.


Question:   I am a special education teacher who provides consultative/support service to a highly qualified general education teacher. Must I become highly qualified?

Answer:   A special education teacher who provides only consultative/support services to a highly qualified general education teacher is considered a highly qualified special education teacher if he or she meets Alabama’s special education certification requirements for the grade level he or she is assigned to teach.


Question:   I am a special education teacher (Grades 7-12) who teaches exclusively students functioning as though they have a significant cognitive impairment. Must I become highly qualified?

Answer:   A special education teacher (Grades 7-12) who teaches exclusively students functioning as though they have a significant cognitive impairment, i.e., IQ equal to or less than 55, and participating in the Alabama Alternate Assessment may meet highly qualified teacher requirements based on any applicable option in the Alabama Model-2006 for a general education elementary teacher who is new or not new to the profession, or for a general education middle/secondary teacher who is new or not new to the profession.
  • If a middle/secondary option is used, the teacher must adhere to the content-specific requirements, and must indicate the subject area(s) being taught when submitting a “checklist" or HOUSSE portfolio application.
  • If an elementary option is used for a middle/secondary special education teacher (Grades 7-12), the LEA must submit a cover memorandum, signed by the local superintendent or an authorized designee, and certifying that the teacher teaches core academic subjects exclusively to students functioning as though they have a significant cognitive impairment, i.e., IQ equal to or less than 55, and who will be assessed against alternative achievement standards.



Question:   Must career/technical education teachers become highly qualified?

Answer:   Criteria for middle/secondary teachers are applicable to career/technical education teachers of embedded credit or subsitute credit courses.


Question:   I teach in a private school. Can I apply for highly qualified status?

Answer:   Yes. The federal No Child Left Behind Act applies the highly qualified teacher requirement to core academic subject teachers in public schools. Alabama's review of highly qualified teachers will extend to any teacher who holds a valid Alabama teaching certificate, including those who are currently seeking employment and those who are currently employed in a private school or a state-supported school that does not operate under the governance of a local public school system.


Question:   I took a Praxis II exam in a different state. Is it possible to use that score to become highly qualified in Alabama?

Answer:   Only selected Praxis II subject assessments may be used as a voluntary means for teachers to satisfy the requirements for establishing highly qualified status pursuant to The Alabama Model for Identifying Highly Qualified Teachers and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The minimum required scores set by the Alabama Board of Education must be met. Click here for a complete list of these assessments (i.e., test codes and titles) and scores.


Question:   What is the Alabama Prospective Teacher Testing Program (APTTP) and where can prospective educators obtain general information regarding the APTTP Basic Skills Assessments?

Answer:   The Alabama Prospective Teacher Testing Program (APTTP) is a statewide testing program required by the Alabama State Board of Education for prospective teachers as a precondition for initial certification. The program consists of three basic skills assessments (Mathematics, Reading, and Writing) and prescribed subject and instructional support-area assessments. The requirements for the basic skills assessments became effective January 1, 2003. The requirements for the subject and instructional support-area assessments became effective April 14, 2005. Applicants must meet the requirements of the APTTP in effect at the time an application is received in the Office of Teacher Certification.

Applicants for Alabama certification, including applicants for the reinstatement of certificates that have lapsed for more than six months, must successfully complete the basic skills assessments and subject and/or instructional support area assessment requirements of the APTTP as a precondition for the issuance of Alabama certification.

The APTTP basic skills assessments are required in the areas of Reading for Information, Applied Mathematics, and Writing. To obtain general information and to register for one or more of the Alabama required basic skills assessments, please visit www.act.org/alabamapttp or contact a member of our teacher testing staff in the Teacher Education and Certification division for information via email at APTTP@alsde.edu or telephone at 334-242-9983. Please note that candidate score results must be sent directly from the testing company to the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) via electronic transmission. The candidate should provide the full and accurate social security number at the time of test registration in order that the score(s) be successfully uploaded into the ALSDE’s certification system. The APTTP basic skills assessments are required in the areas of Reading for Information, Applied Mathematics, and Writing. Click here to obtain general information and to register for one or more of the Alabama required basic skills assessments or contact a member of our teacher testing staff in the Teacher Education and Certification division for information via email at APTTP@alsde.edu or telephone at 334-242-9983. Please note that candidate score results must be sent directly from the testing company to the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) via electronic transmission. The candidate should provide the full and accurate social security number at the time of test registration in order that the score(s) be successfully uploaded into the ALSDE’s certification system.


Question:   What is the Alabama Prospective Teacher Testing Program (APTTP) and where can prospective educators obtain general information regarding the Alabama required Praxis II assessments?

Answer:   The Alabama Prospective Teacher Testing Program (APTTP) is a statewide testing program required by the Alabama State Board of Education for prospective teachers as a precondition for initial certification. The program consists of three basic skills assessments (Mathematics, Reading, and Writing) and prescribed subject and instructional support-area assessments. The requirements for the basic skills assessments became effective January 1, 2003. The requirements for the subject and instructional support-area assessments became effective April 14, 2005. Applicants must meet the requirements of the APTTP in effect at the time an application is received in the Office of Teacher Certification. Applicants for Alabama certification, including applicants for the reinstatement of certificates that have lapsed for more than six months, must successfully complete the basic skills assessments and subject and/or instructional support area assessment requirements of the APTTP as a precondition for the issuance of Alabama certification. The Alabama required Praxis II subject/instructional support area tests are administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). To obtain general information and to register for one or more of the Alabama required Praxis II assessments, please visit or contact a member of our teacher testing staff in the Teacher Education and Certification division for information via email at APTTP@alsde.edu or telephone at 334-242-9983. Please note that candidate score results must be sent directly from the testing company to the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) via electronic transmission. The candidate should provide the full and accurate social security number at the time of test registration in order that the score(s) be successfully uploaded into the ALSDE’s certification system.


Question:   What is the Alabama Prospective Teacher Testing Program (APTTP) and where can prospective educators obtain general information regarding the Alabama required Praxis II assessments?

Answer:   The Alabama Prospective Teacher Testing Program (APTTP) is a statewide testing program required by the Alabama State Board of Education for prospective teachers as a precondition for initial certification. The program consists of three basic skills assessments (Mathematics, Reading, and Writing) and prescribed subject and instructional support-area assessments. The requirements for the basic skills assessments became effective January 1, 2003. The requirements for the subject and instructional support-area assessments became effective April 14, 2005. Applicants must meet the requirements of the APTTP in effect at the time an application is received in the Office of Teacher Certification.

Applicants for Alabama certification, including applicants for the reinstatement of certificates that have lapsed for more than six months, must successfully complete the basic skills assessments and subject and/or instructional support area assessment requirements of the APTTP as a precondition for the issuance of Alabama certification.

The Alabama required Praxis II subject/instructional support area tests are administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Click here to obtain general information and to register for one or more of the Alabama required Praxis II assessments, or contact a member of our teacher testing staff in the Teacher Education and Certification division for information via email at APTTP@alsde.edu or telephone at 334-242-9983. Please note that candidate score results must be sent directly from the testing company to the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) via electronic transmission. The candidate should provide the full and accurate social security number at the time of test registration in order that the score(s) be successfully uploaded into the ALSDE’s certification system.