Washington School Librarian Certification Guide - 2023
AKA: Library Media Endorsement
What's Here? - Table of Contents
The school library is a rich resource filled with books, DVDs, Articles, Literature, Magazines, and other relevant materials that students find useful while studying and doing their assignments. This highlights the importance of capable hands managing what books are shelved, how they leave and return to the shelves, and how conducive the facility is for learning. This is why departments of education in each state pay attention to the quality of school librarians employed in district schools. The certification process for librarians sets a bar preventing just anybody from assuming available librarian positions in the state and ensures that only professionals are employed.
School librarians perform numerous tasks including teaching students to use technology and online resources to make their learning and study easier, and more enjoyable. The certification process ensures that you are competent in performing all that will be required of you as a school librarian. In addition to your traditional roles as a school librarian, schools often appreciate innovations such as literary events and clubs, some of which are already a culture in some schools. These will require you to bring your communication and organizational skills to the fore. The librarian certification process is necessary to maintain the values of the profession.
As a newcomer to the librarian profession in Washington, you must be certified by the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). This state presents one of the most organized certification processes as a recommendation must be sent from the institution where you completed an approved teacher preparation program before your application can be considered or processed at all.
As a first-time applicant, you must communicate with your institution about which certification you are eligible for based on completed requirements. Here are the available options for first-time applicants. You must have been recommended for the Residency First Issue Certificate from a state-approved teacher preparation program. The registration process requires a background check and the fees are non-refundable. In addition to obtaining an educator license, you will need to add a library endorsement. More details on this will be revealed later.
School librarians usually perform some teaching roles, hence a background in teaching usually proves helpful for adapting to the role. The educational requirements are put in place to ensure that you have obtained relevant, fundamental training that will make your job as a librarian purposeful and easier. For certification in Washington, you are expected to have completed at least, a bachelor’s. The requirement is not strict on what field the degree must have been obtained in, however, a degree in behavioral or social sciences, education, or even library/media studies will prove useful for a school librarian.
You will also be required to have completed a Washington-approved teacher preparation program. This is why your academic background under your bachelor’s or other degrees does not necessarily have to be teaching-related. You can search for Washington-approved teacher training programs here. To add a library endorsement to your educator license, you are required to have completed coursework in library science or other related disciplines.
Experience is of particular importance in a profession such as this where you will need to teach children and work with them for the most productive library experience. If all you have is your bachelor’s or any other degree from any field, you have nothing to worry about as you will be exposed to some teaching experience during the compulsory teacher preparation programs. Teacher preparatory programs always include supervised and/or unsupervised teaching exercises where you put to practice what you have learned in the classroom.
You will likely be recommended to the OSPI by your institution for a pre-residency or intern substitute teacher license which permits you to obtain teaching experience while still undergoing or completing the teacher preparation program. The duration of your field exposure is usually determined by your institution following state guidelines. A solid internship experience should last for about a year. Within this period, you should have familiarized yourself with the school system in Washington and be ready to take on a full-time job, if you meet the other requirements.
The Washington Educator Skills Tests (WEST) is the only acceptable testing requirement in the state. As an intending school librarian, you will be required to take the WEST-B test which is necessary for you to obtain an educator license. Thankfully, it is a requirement for enrolment into a teacher preparation program. The test is made up of three categories; reading, writing, and mathematics.
Due to a bill signed by Governor Inslee (HB 1621) on April 24, 2019, prospective educators in Washington are not required to attain a particular passing score in WEST-B. This basic test is to be considered together with other documents tendered as a demonstration of your ability to deliver as a school librarian. The test can be taken as a computer-based (CBT) variant at certain centers in the state or via online proctoring which allows you to take the test securely from wherever you are. You will be required to register separately for the three tests if you will be using online proctoring ($32 each, a total of $96 for the CBT). For more information about the test, check here. For practice materials, go here.
To add a library endorsement, you will be required to table proof of completion of coursework related to Library Media. You will also be required to take the WEST-E Library Media test (042). This test lasts for 2 hours and 30 minutes (initial 15 minutes for CBT tutorial and NDA). The test includes 110 multiple choice questions and the passing mark is 240. The testing fee is $96. Access practice materials here.
The certification process is meant to determine that you are fit professionally and of good moral standing to work within the school system. This is why background checks feature in the process. Background checks might involve an inquiry into your criminal, credit, and employment history. It serves as an evaluation of your character and conduct; providing information on your suitability for a job as a school librarian. It is important because of its relevance to the safety of the children and fellow staff members you will be working with.
You are required by the state of Washington to have a background check done on you if you are applying for a teaching certificate for the first time or are a new employee of a school district or other special institutions. Private schools are also mandated to request run background checks on employees that will be in contact with school children regularly. The background process is made up of two parts one by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Washington State Patrol (WSP). The results of the checks are sent to OSPI to be entered into the Educational Data System (EDS)
You can be fingerprinted at a close Educational Service District (ESD) in Washington. Note that you may be required to pay some additional fees as well as the standard $45.25 for the fingerprint background check, as determined by the ESD. For other alternatives and a breakdown of the process, go here.
There are different kinds of license endorsements available for educators in Washington which you can check out here. If you have completed a Washington-approved teacher preparation program, you want to apply for one based on a Teacher College Recommendation. To apply for a license, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree; completed your teacher preparation program; taken the WEST-B test; and submitted your fingerprints for a background check. You will be required to pay a non-refundable processing fee ($74 for Residency Teacher). See application fees for other licenses here.
As a first-time user, you must create an account here after which you input your login details. You need to request for application roles (might take up to 30 minutes). However, you can skip this step and select “Register”. For guidance concerning the application process check here. For your application to be processed successfully, you must have all the requisite credentials and have paid your application fees in full. To add your library media endorsement, you will use the same account. Once you have fulfilled the testing and program requirements, your institution will be required to send proof to OSPI. You will also pay $54 for adding the endorsement.
Most newly certified educators have a residency certificate that does not include a defined validity period. They receive a new one with the expiry date when they resume at their new job. The usual validity period is five years after which a renewal is necessary. To qualify for a renewal, you must submit proof of having completed 100 clock hours or equivalent coursework credits or Professional Growth Plans (PGP) or a combination of all three over the last five years since your last license was issued. You also need to tender proof of completion of an “issues of abuse course”.
The renewal application is also filled online here using your account. The renewal fee for a residency teacher is $64. Learn more about the process of renewal here.
As certification in Washington is necessary for you to practice as a school librarian in the state, you probably have questions about how certification in another state is considered. Since the certification process in Wisconsin and Ohio is similar to that of Washington by the Professional Educator’s Standards Board, educators from these states are allowed to apply directly for certification in the state.
If you have a valid teaching license from other states, however, you must first fulfill the fundamental requirements which include having a bachelor’s degree and completing a state-approved teacher preparation program. You will also be required to take the basic qualifying test for educator certification and your library media endorsement. You can contact OSPI to see if your credentials are acceptable in Washington (360) 664-3631. For more information about the reciprocity process, go here.