Initial Teacher

Definition

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission defines an initial preparation program as one "designed to prepare candidates for their first professional certificate in a teaching, leadership, or service field. Examples include degree programs at the baccalaureate, master’s, or higher levels; or post-baccalaureate programs, non-degree certification-only programs, and non-traditional programs such as the GaTAPP program. Programs leading to an educator’s first certificate in a particular field are considered initial preparation even if the educator is certified in one or more other fields" (Rule 505-3-.01, 2016).

Initial Teacher Georgia Certification

Initial teacher education programs follow a similar course of study. All initial teacher preparation programs require extensive field experiences in diverse school settings. Professional coursework is the point at which you begin going out to schools to learn how to be an effective teacher. Typically, for an undergraduate student, this begins during your junior year. During your first semester in professional coursework, you are observing your mentor teacher in her/his classroom and contributing very little to classroom teaching and learning. By the end of your program, typically in your last semester prior to graduation, you are full-time teaching five days a week with your mentor teacher observing and guiding you. The courses you take in addition to your field experience coursework complement the experiences you have in the classroom.

One of the first steps required to begin professional coursework is completing admission to teacher education requirements and earning a satisfactory grade in an admission to teacher education course (EDUC 2999).

Once you declare your education major or are admitted into an initial teacher graduate program, your academic advisor provides you with valuable information on how to successfully complete your program. He or she provides you with guidance throughout your program and your instructors and VSU field supervisors also provide assistance on assessments, experiences, and content preparation.

Progression/Retention in Professional P-12 Education Programs

Education majors are required to earn minimum grades of “C” in all professional education courses, in all courses in Area F of the Core Curriculum, and in those courses required in the major. Students must also maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA, update criminal background checks as requested, and assure professional liability insurance is current. Student progress will be monitored through (a) GPA, (b) observations, (c) faculty’s and public school teachers’ documented feedback, and (d) demonstration of appropriate dispositions by their advisor and university supervisor. Students who do not maintain these requirements will be prevented from continuing in professional education course work, may be placed on a Professional Improvement Plan, and may be dismissed from the program.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission requires applicants seeking initial certification to demonstrate proficiency in their certification area by passing the content tests appropriate to their program of study. A passing score must be obtained on these assessments before a candidate may be recommended to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission for an induction certificate. The GACE Program Admission Assessment (or exemption) and Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment are also required for certification, but it is met through the admission requirements for Teacher Education. 

Certification Programs for Students with Degrees

Students who already have a degree and are coming to Valdosta State University to obtain a teaching certificate must meet the requirements for admission to Teacher Education and be accepted into a certification-only program. The student’s prior academic course work will be used to design a plan of study to satisfy the standards for certification through the approved GaPSC program. A part of the certification requirements, as determined by each department for individual students, must be completed at VSU. Please contact the VSU Admissions office to apply for admission.