The Oklahoma State Department of Education reports that 40,089 four-year-old children in Oklahoma attended public school in 2013, which accounts for approximately 70 percent of all four-year-olds in the State. To date, 99 percent of school districts offer a state preschool program for four-year-olds. Although Oklahoma does not provide specific funding for developmentally normal three-year-olds, a number of school districts offer preschool programs for these younger students.
If you want to become a public preschool teacher in Oklahoma, complete these steps to achieve state certification:
|Complete a Teacher Education Program in Early Childhood Education|
|Take and Pass the Required Certification Examination|
|Apply for Early Childhood Education Certification|
|Renew and Maintain your Standard Educator Certification|
Step 1. Complete a Teacher Education Program in Early Childhood Education
If you want to become a preschool teacher in Oklahoma, you must first successfully complete a teacher education program approved by the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation (OCTP). There are currently 20 approved programs in early childhood education in Oklahoma.
You may also qualify for licensure through the Department’s Alternative Placement Program if you possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university in early childhood education or a related degree, and you achieved a GPA of 2.5 or better.
You must be able to show proof that you have at least two years of experience in the field of early childhood development or early childhood education OR you have completed post-baccalaureate coursework in this field.
Placement in this program requires the completion of the Application for the Oklahoma Alternative Placement Program, official transcripts showing the completion of the required education, and a current resume.
Oklahoma’s Pilot Early Childhood Program
In addition to state-funded four-year-old preschool programs throughout the state, Oklahoma’s Pilot Early Childhood Program is designed for children from birth to age three who are identified as at-risk, according to Federal Poverty Guidelines. Qualifying programs must meet all licensing requirements as set forth by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Staff requirements include the following:
- Lead teachers must hold early childhood certification through Oklahoma Department of Education.
- Assistant teachers must hold a minimum of an associate’s degree in child development or a related field.
- Classroom aides must hold a minimum of a high school diploma and a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential
Step 2. Take and Pass the Required Certification Examination
Upon the completion of an approved teacher preparation program or upon being approved for the Alternative Placement Program, you must take and pass Certification Examinations for Oklahoma Educators through the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation:
- Oklahoma Professional Teaching Examination (PK-8): Early Childhood
- Oklahoma Subject Area Test: Early Childhood Education
The examinations are administered by Pearson Vue at testing centers throughout the U.S. You can search here for the testing centers located near you. There are 30 Pearson Vue testing centers located throughout Oklahoma.
Step 3. Apply for Early Childhood Education Certification
Upon completion of all necessary pre-certification requirements, you must complete the Oklahoma Teaching Certificate Application. If you have received your degree from a state-approved teacher education program, you may also use the Oklahoma Education Single Sign-On System to apply for certification. After you register for an account with the system, choose the “Oklahoma Educator Credentialing System.”
However, if you are applying for certification through the Oklahoma Alternative Placement Program and you have completed all pre-certification requirements, you must complete a Request for Teacher Competency Review Panel Assessment, which includes a written examination of why you want to become a teacher. Upon submission of the Request for Teacher Competency Review Panel Assessment, you will be required to appear before the Review Panel, who will then determine if they will grant you a recommendation to receive an alternative teaching certificate to teach preschool in Oklahoma.
Upon receipt of your alternative teaching certificate in Oklahoma, you must work to complete the professional education component of the program, which includes the completion of:
- Bachelor’s degree: 270 clock hours (18 semester hours)
- Master’s degree: 180 clock hours (12 semester hours)
- Doctorate degree: 180 clock hours (12 semester hours)
Step 4. Renew and Maintain your Standard Educator Certification
Certification renewal is completed through the Oklahoma Education Single Sign-On system. A standard certificate is valid for a period of 5 years. To qualify for certificate renewal, you attach documentation of school district-approved professional development points. Each school district sets requirements for the number of points that must be accrued in each renewal cycle.
If you hold an alternative initial teaching certificate in Oklahoma, you must ensure you complete all of the necessary requirements (outlined in Step 3) during the first three years of your initial certification, as an initial teaching certificate is NOT renewable.
Oklahoma Preschool Teacher Salaries
The US Bureau of Labor statistics reports that there were 4,810 preschool teachers actively employed in Oklahoma during 2012. The number of preschool teachers in Oklahoma City and Tulsa was 1,750 and 1,080 respectively. Preschool teacher salaries exceed the national average of $27,130 and employment opportunities are expected to increase by 19 percent between 2008 and 2018.
Oklahoma’s State Department of Education manages preschool programs within its public school system. Parents in the state can choose either a full-day or half-day preschool program for their four-year-olds, and they can be assured that their children will have certified teachers and small preschool classes (10:1 student-teacher ratio).
The National Institute of Early Education Research has named the Oklahoma public school preschool program as a model for other states wishing to develop a universal pre-school system.
Steven Dow, executive director of a Tulsa anti-poverty organization and one of the principals involved in the 1998 creation of Oklahoma’s preschool program, was recently interviewed on a popular public radio news program. He cited three main reasons when asked why the program has been so successful: Adequate state funding, small class sizes and quality teachers.
Dow explained that Oklahoma is unique because it requires all preschool teachers to hold both a bachelor’s degree in family relations or child development as well as a certificate in early childhood education. He said, preschool teachers in Oklahoma “are treated the same and paid the same as K-12 teachers.” He stressed the impact of pre-school on the students who “enter kindergarten an average of five months ahead in pre-math and nine months ahead in pre-reading.
“The long-term results are even more important, Dow added. Children who complete a quality preschool program are more apt to graduate from high school, attend college, enjoy higher incomes and avoid the criminal justice system.”
As indicated by Steven Dow, preschool teachers earn the same salaries as K-12 teachers. Oklahoma public school salary schedules show that higher salaries are determined by level of education. Raises are based on a 30-step system. Salary schedules for the state’s two largest cities are as follows:
Additionally, the US Department of Labor provides salary data for early childhood educators throughout Oklahoma as of 2013: