West Virginia School Librarian Certification Guide - 2023
AKA: School Library/Media Endorsement
What's Here? - Table of Contents
Traditional school librarian roles have subtly broadened over the years to now include more direct contact with pupils and students, sometimes in a classroom. This has made it such that to be a school librarian you must be conversant with the concept of teaching and the use of modern technology in finding and managing information. A library is a strong tool in developing these young minds and must be viewed as such. School boards and state departments of education have included more scrutiny in the recruitment process for school librarians.
As a school librarian, you will have the opportunity to meet with young people and help them make informed choices about study and reference materials. Such a job requires that you be able to communicate effectively with these people as their needs require. Hence, it is expected that school librarians be sufficiently educated and qualified to do their jobs, as this will mean that they have learned and acquired relevant skills. Different states have their set rules and requirements for the licensing process and as such, it is necessary for prospective applicants to familiarize themselves with these.
The West Virginia school librarian certification process requires that you have a teaching license first, to which an appropriate endorsement will be added. The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is responsible for making the criteria for certification known to applicants and handling the certification process. The initial license is called the “Initial Professional Teaching Certificate”. To qualify for this certification, you must submit evidence of fulfilling all the requirements which will be covered in the following sections. The initial license is valid for three years after which it must be renewed.
It is important to note that the WVDE reserves the right to accept or reject your application for licensure based on your compliance with their requirements. The board is also able to issue a provisional license to teachers who show promising potential and have some of their requirements met. This provisional certification allows them to teach while they work towards completing the full licensure process.
A career in education will usually require that prospects have the relevant academic credentials to perform their duties properly. For the West Virginia school librarian certification process, you are expected to have at least a bachelor’s in courses related to the subject areas specified in Appendix A, here. This course must be completed in a regionally accredited institution of higher education (IHE). Some job openings might require you to have a master’s or doctorate, however, the institutions that award these degrees must be accredited. Presenting with degrees from an unaccredited institution will cause your application to be rejected and you will first have to complete an appropriate educator preparatory program before you apply again.
A minimum grade point average of 2.50 and 3.00 are required for bachelor’s and master’s degree holders respectively. The easiest way to find accredited courses in approved schools is to take courses in West Virginia IHEs.
Managing school library facilities and putting school children through on how to take advantage of complex technology for learning and completing assignments require skills that are best mastered in the field. Hence, licensing authorities are interested in how much experience an applicant has had. People who go through degree programs that are skewed towards educator preparation usually have some form of exposure to teaching through fieldwork and supervised/student teaching programs.
If your training is not predominantly teaching-based, you will be required to have some teaching experience (at least five years) or undergo a compulsory Beginning Educator Internship program. The former exempts you from the latter. If you are considering a career as a school librarian and you are about to enroll in a degree program, preferably go for one that allows you to accumulate skills and experience in teaching.
The certification process requires you to take ETS® Praxis® tests to prove that you possess the necessary skills to be an educator in the state of West Virginia. The first test is the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (Praxis I). This test evaluates your understanding of the basic principles of teaching and is compulsory for all who want to be licensed as educators in West Virginia.
There are five kinds of this test namely; Early Childhood, Grades K-6, Grades 5-9, PreK-12, and Grades 7-12 (course codes are 5621, 5622, 5623, 5624, and 5625). Each of these cost $156 and last for 2 hours. WVDE requires that you take the Grades K-6, Grades 5-9, or Grades 7-12. The qualifying scores are 160 points (for K-6 and 5-9), and 157 points (for 7-12).
The second test required is the School-Library Media Test; Pre-K-AD (Praxis II – 5311). This is the special test for the library endorsement on your license. It evaluates your proficiency in handling the duties of a school librarian. The test is a 2-hour paper that costs $130. The qualifying score is 138. For more information about these tests go here. To access practice materials, go here.
Certain people are exempted from the Praxis tests following the WBVE policy. Information on this can be accessed on their website here.
Schools are sensitive environments as they are pivotal for the mental and intellectual development of young people, hence the necessity for professionals of character and good standing to be employed. Background checks involve looking through your criminal and financial records. It may also extend further to gain information about your conduct in your last neighborhood or workplace. This is a process used to verify that you will not pose any threat to the safety of the children in your care.
The West Virginia Police or its designated offices are authorized to take your fingerprints for a thorough criminal background check to be done on you. This background check is done at the state and national level by the State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) respectively. These checks are meticulous about any history of abuse or sexual offenses. Note that a fee of $45.5 will be required from you for the process. You will also be required to give your personal information that will make the process easier for the designated authorities. For more information about this process go here.
You can apply for an Initial Professional Teaching license once you have your education, experience, testing, and background check requirements sorted out. The process is started with a form 20T for applicants who have completed a teacher preparatory program in an accredited IHE in West Virginia. Applications are welcome for US citizens 18 years and above or people with a valid work permit who are adequately qualified as the requirements specified. You will be required to pay a sum of $35 which can be paid here. The initial license is valid for three years, expiring by June 30 of the third year.
The application process is usually completed online. However, for first-time applicants, you must first register here. Part of the registration process will require that you set up a webtop account if you do not have one already (this is expected for people who have worked in the West Virginia school system before). For people employed in the West Virginia school system, you might need a statement of character and county/institutional approval before you will be allowed to make a payment. Note that you cannot pay for the application process unless you are cleared to do so. This is safe because the application fee is non-refundable. Also, your application will not be processed without payment.
Once your account is set up you can access the electronic application here. Another important part of the process is sending your documents and transcripts as are required. Original transcripts are to be sent here firstname.lastname@example.org. Your Praxis scores will be sent to the WVDE from the organizers of the tests. For your background check, you need to first submit your application to obtain a service code for your appointment. Learn more about this here.
The WVDE receives thousands of applications daily including those for initial licensing, renewal, reinstatement, and other classes. Hence, it takes up to 90 days for you to get a result on your application. You can track the process via the Certification Check Website here. For including your library endorsement, you will need to fill a Form 8C. Learn more about that here.
The Initial Professional Teaching License lasts for three years, expiring on June 30 of the third year. After this, it must be renewed. The renewal process encourages your professional development, as you will be required to tender proof of some coursework that will equip you with the knowledge to do your job better. License renewal requirements vary depending on the license being renewed. You must have a minimum of six semester hours, with a minimum grade point average of 3.00 from an accredited institution. The program must be related to the public school system or one that improved your competency in your special skill area. An alternative method requires you to have completed two WVDE-approved online courses about the public school system. These courses must have been completed before the new license is issued.
Renewal applications can only be submitted after January 1 of the year in which the license expires. These applications will be received until June 30. You will be required to pay $35 to process your renewal application. The application form is called Form 4T and it will be completed online. For more information about the renewal process go here.
The WVDE allows for holders of valid out-of-state licenses to apply for a conversion that enables them to practice within the West Virginia education system. In addition to the requirements for an initial professional teaching license as has been discussed above, you will be required to submit a superintendent recommendation of Form 4B. the license that you will obtain will be valid for three years. To qualify for the reciprocity option, you must have a valid teaching license from another state that is equivalent to the West Virginia Professional Teaching Certificate. Learn more about this option under the Professional Teaching License (Reciprocity from Out-of-State) row here.