State Policies and Procedures

State Requirements for Teacher Certification

State Policies & Procedures

Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Code of Professional Conduct for Education Practitioners
  • Conduct: Professional Accountability
  • Administrative Provisions
  • Acts of Unprofessional Conduct
  • Appeal of Certification Decision
State Expectations of all Teacher Candidates

Download the State Expectations document

[WAC 180-78A-270 (1)]

Teacher candidates will complete a well-planned sequence of courses and/or experiences in which they acquire and apply knowledge about:
(a) The state goals* and Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALR).
(Note: EALR will be addressed in a variety of your courses.)
(b) The subject matter content for the area(s) they teach, including relevant methods course work and the essential areas of study for each endorsement area for which the candidate is applying.
(c) The social, historical, and philosophical foundations of education, including an understanding of the moral, social, and political dimensions of classrooms, teaching, and schools.
(d) The impact of technological and societal changes on schools.
(e) Theories of human development and learning.
(f) Inquiry and research.
(g) School law and educational policy.
(h) Professional ethics.
(I) The responsibilities, structure and activities of the profession.
(j) Issues related to abuse, including the identification of physical, emotional, sexual, and substance abuse, information on the impact of abuse on the behavior and learning abilities of students, discussion of the responsibilities of a teacher to report abuse or provide assistance to students who are the victims of abuse, and methods for teaching students about abuse of all types and their prevention.
(k) The standards, criteria and other requirements for obtaining the professional certificate.
(l) Research and experience-based principles of effective practice for encouraging the intellectual, social, and personal development of students.
(m) Different student approaches to learning for creating instructional opportunities adapted to learners from diverse cultural or linguistic backgrounds.
(n) Area of exceptionality and learning including, but not limited to, learning disabilities, visual and perceptual difficulties, and special physical or mental challenges.
(o) Effective instructional strategies for students at all levels of academic abilities and talents.
(p) Instructional strategies for developing reading, writing, critical thinking, problem solving and performance skills.
(q) The prevention and diagnosis of reading, writing, critical thinking, and problem solving skills.
(r) Classroom management and discipline, including:

1) individual and group motivation for encouraging positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation;
2) effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication for fostering active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interactions in the classroom.

(s) Planning and management of instruction based on knowledge of the content area, the community, and curriculum goals.
(t) Formal and informal assessment strategies for evaluating and censuring the continuous intellectual, social, and physical development of the learner.
(u) Collaboration with school colleagues, parents, and agencies in the larger community for supporting students' learning and well-being.
(v) Effective interactions with parents to support students' learning and well-being.
(w) The opportunity for candidates to reflect on their teaching and its effects on student growth and learning.
(x) Educational technology including the use of computer and other technologies in instruction, assessment and professional productivity.
(y) Strategies for effective participation in group decision making.


*State (Student Learning) Goals:

  • READ with comprehension, WRITE with skill, and communicate effectively and responsibly in a variety of ways and settings.
  • KNOW and APPLY the core concepts and principles of mathematics; social, physical and life sciences; civics, history and geography; arts; and health and fitness.
  • THINK analytically, logically, and creatively, and INTEGRATE experiences and knowledge to form reasoned judgments and solve problems.
  • UNDERSTAND the importance of work and how performance, effort and decisions directly affect future career and educational opportunities

Code of Professional Conduct for Education Practitioners
PURPOSE [WAC 180-87-005]

The sole purpose of this chapter is to set forth policies and procedures related to reprimand, suspension, and revocation actions respecting certification of education practitioners in the state of Washington for acts of unprofessional conduct. It is recognized that grounds for the discharge, non-renewal of contracts, or other adverse change in contract status affecting the employment contracts of education practitioners are broader than stated herein. The grounds set forth as unprofessional conduct in this chapter shall not limit discharge, non-renewal of contracts, or other employment action by employers of education practitioners.


The public policy goals of this chapter are as follows:

(1) To protect the health, safety, and general welfare of students within the state of Washington.
(2) To assure the citizens of the state of Washington that education practitioners are accountable for acts of unprofessional conduct.
(3) To define and provide notice to education practitioners within the state of Washington of the acts of unprofessional conduct for which they are accountable pursuant to the provisions of chapter 180-86 WAC.

Conduct: Professional Accountability

Any educational practitioner who commits an act of unprofessional conduct prescribed within this chapter may be held accountable for such conduct pursuant to the provisions of chapter 180-86 WAC.

Administrative Provisions

As a general rule, the provisions of this chapter shall not be applicable to the private conduct of an education practitioner except where the education practitioner's role as a private person is not clearly distinguishable from the role as an education practitioner and the fulfillment of professional obligations.


No act, for the purpose of this chapter, shall be defined as an act of unprofessional conduct unless it is included in this chapter.


The provisions of this chapter shall take effect ninety calendar days after adoption and shall apply prospectively to acts of unprofessional conduct committed after such effective date. Unless provided to the contrary, any revision shall take effect six months after adoption and shall apply prospectively from such effective date.


As used in this chapter, the term "education practitioner" means any certificate holder licensed under rules of the state board of education to serve as a certificated employee.


As used in this chapter, the term "student" means the following:
(1) Any student who is under the supervision, direction, or control of the education practitioner.
(2) Any student enrolled in any school or school district served by the education practitioner.
(3) Any student enrolled in any school or school district while attending a school related activity at which the education practitioner is performing professional duties.
(4) Any former student who is under eighteen years of age and who has been under the supervision, direction, or control of the education practitioner. Former student, for the purpose of this section, is included but is not limited to dropouts, graduates, and students who transfer to other districts or schools.


As used in this chapter, the term "colleague" means any person with whom the education practitioner has established a professional relationship and includes fellow workers and employees regardless of their status as education practitioners.

Acts of Unprofessional Conduct

Any falsification or deliberate misrepresentation, including omission, of a material fact by an education practitioner concerning any of the following is an act of unprofessional conduct:
(1) Statement of professional qualifications.
(2) Application or recommendation for professional employment, promotion, certification, or an endorsement.
(3) Application or recommendation for college or university admission, scholarship, grant, academic award, or similar benefit.
(4) Representation of completion of in-service or continuing education credit hours.
(5) Evaluations or grading of students and/or personnel.
(6) Financial or program compliance reports submitted to state, federal, or other governmental agencies.
(7) Information submitted in the course of an official inquiry by the superintendent of public instruction related to the following:

(a) Good moral character or personal fitness.
(b) Acts of unprofessional conduct.

(8) Information submitted in the course of an investigation by a law enforcement agency or by child protective services regarding school related criminal activity.


Unprofessional conduct includes:
(1) Being under the influence of alcohol or of a controlled substance, as defined in chapter 69.50 RCW, on school premises or at a school-sponsored activity involving students, following:

(a) Notification to the education practitioner by his or her employer of concern regarding alcohol or substance abuse affecting job performance;
(b) A recommendation by the employer that the education practitioner seek counseling or other appropriate and available assistance; and
(c) The education practitioner has had a reasonable opportunity to obtain such assistance.

(2) The possession, use, or consumption on school premises or at school-sponsored activity of a Schedule 1 controlled substance, as defined by the state board of pharmacy, or a Schedule 2 controlled substance, as defined by the state board of pharmacy, without a prescription authorizing such use.
(3) The consumption of an alcoholic beverage on school premises or at a school-sponsored activity involving students if such consumption is contrary to written policy of the school district or school building.


Any performance of professional practice in flagrant disregard or clear abandonment of generally recognized professional standards in the course of any of the following professional practices is an act of unprofessional conduct:
(1) Assessment, treatment, instruction, or supervision of students.
(2) Employment or evaluation of personnel.
(3) Management of moneys or property.


Any permanent abandonment, constituting a substantial violation without good cause, of one of the following written contracts to perform professional services for a private school or a school or an educational service district is an act of unprofessional conduct:
(1) An employment contract, excluding any extracurricular or other specific activity within such contract or any supplementary contract.
(2) Professional service contract.


Any act performed without good cause that materially contributes to one of the following unauthorized professional practices is an act of unprofessional practice.

(1) The employment of a person to serve as an employee in a position for which certification is required by rules of the state board of education when such person does not possess, at the time of commencement of such responsibility, a valid certificate to hold the position for which such person is employed.
(2) The assignment or delegation in a school setting of any responsibility within the scope of the authorized practice of nursing, physical therapy, or occupational therapy to a person not licensed to practice such profession unless such assignment or delegation is otherwise authorized by law, including the rules of the appropriate licensing board.
(3) The practice of education by a certificate holder during any period in which such certificate has been suspended.
(4) The failure of a certificate holder to abide by the conditions within an agreement, executed pursuant to WAC 180-86-150, to not continue or to accept education employment.
(5) The failure of a certificate holder to comply with any condition, limitation, or other order or decision entered pursuant to chapter 180-86 WAC.
(6) PROVIDED, That for the purpose of this section, good cause includes, but is not limited to exigent circumstances where immediate action is necessary to protect the health, safety, or general welfare of a student, colleague, or other affected person.


Unprofessional conduct includes the commission by an education practitioner of any sexually exploitive act with or to a student including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) Any sexual advance, verbal or physical;
(2) Sexual intercourse as defined in RCW 9A.44.010;
(3) Indecent exposure as defined in RCW 9A.88.010;
(4) Sexual contact, i.e., the intentional touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a student except to the extent necessary and appropriate to attend to the hygienic or health needs of the student;
(5) PROVIDED, That the provisions of this section shall not apply if at the time of the sexual conduct the participants are married to each other.


Unprofessional conduct includes the illegal furnishing of alcohol or a controlled substance, as defined in chapter 69.50 RCW, to any student by an education practitioner.


Any deliberate act in the course of professional practice which requires or pressures students to purchase equipment, supplies, or services from the education practitioner in a private remunerative capacity is an act of unprofessional conduct.


The failure of a principal or other certified chief administrator of a public school building to make a good faith effort to assure compliance with RCW 28A.225.330 by establishing, distributing, and monitoring compliance with written procedures that are reasonably designed to implement the statute shall constitute an act of unprofessional conduct.


The intentional or knowing failure of an educational service district superintendent, a district superintendent, or a chief administrator of a private school to file a complaint pursuant to WAC 180-86-110 regarding the lack of good moral character or personal fitness of an education practitioner or the commission of an act of unprofessional conduct by an education practitioner is an act of unprofessional conduct.

Appeal of Certification Decision

The Right to Appeal - If a person is denied a certificate or endorsement by OSPI, then he/she has the right to appeal (WAC 180-86-140 through 165). Before an application is submitted, it may appear that the applicant does not qualify for approval. In that circumstance, the applicant is advised of the probability of denial and the right to appeal that denial. The applicant may choose to submit the application anyway in order to exercise the appeal right.

Informal Appeal - The first level is the informal level, and this is performed by OSPI staff. OSPI must send a decision (by certified mail) within 30 days of receipt of the appellant's letter.

Approval - If approved by the informal hearing officer, the decision will be communicated to certification staff for issuance of the certificate.

Denial - If denying an appeal, the informal hearing officer

Formal Appeal - At the formal level, the case is heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ) from the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings. The Attorney General's office serves as counsel to OSPI, and the appellant may or may not have an attorney. Many elect to appear 'pro se' (acting without attorney as their own spokesperson). The ALJ hears both sides. The proceedings are recorded by a court reporter so a transcript is available, and the ALJ makes a decision that is mailed to both parties. The ALJ does not have a time limit to make a decision; sometimes a decision is made within a few weeks, other times it is made after a few months.

Approval - If the ALJ rules for the appellant, OSPI issues the requested certificate or endorsement. If a new interpretation of regulation is provided, OSPI may then consider recommending changes to the governing regulation.

Denial - If the ALJ rules against the appellant, the next step is Superior Court.

Court Action - If, after ALJ action, the appellant desires to pursue legal action, appeal cases can be brought to Superior Court.

Appeal of Office of Professional Practices - The appeal process follows a slightly different path for those people who have been investigated by the Office of Professional Practices, and subsequently had disciplinary action taken (e.g. certificate denied or suspended). Appellants appear before an appeals committee and then have the right to appeal to the State Board of Education before pursuing the case in Superior Court.

Cathy Dieter, Director of Certification:
(509) 313-3504
714 E. Boone Ave.
AD Box 25
Spokane, WA 99258

Amanda Coulter
Director of Certification
Phone: (509) 313-3504