In 2010, I received my first state teaching license, a practitioners’ license to teach in the state of Louisiana. To get the license, I had to enter an alternative certification program and take a Praxis II exam in English Language Arts. (The Praxis II exams are now called the Praxis Subject Assessments.)
But I didn’t have to take a Praxis I back in 2010. (Now called Praxis Core. A lot of changes to the names of the exams since I left Louisiana!) This is because Louisiana accepts qualifying SAT or ACT scores as a substitute for Praxis I/Praxis Core.
A few years later, as I was going through the licensure process in my home state of Wisconsin, I did have to take the Praxis Core, as well as a Praxis Subject Assessment in the new subject I was applying for (ELL).
Different states have different requirements. And those requirements can change over time. These days, Louisiana’s Department of Education still allows for ACT or SAT as a Praxis Core substitute. But they also require a grade appropriate Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) exam, in addition to a Subject Assessment.
There a number of states that accept ACT, SAT, or other college entrance qualifications instead of the Praxis Core. California, for example, accepts not only the SAT and ACT, but also College Board Advanced Placement exams in lieu of a Praxis Core score.
Moreover, California has its own state-specific Praxis Core substitute, the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). Preference is given to CBEST scores in California, but the state will consider Praxis Core scores instead of CBEST for out-of-state licensure applicants.
Many other states also have local exams for teacher licensure. Some states follow California’s lead, accepting either Praxis Core or their own local exams. Other states, however, neither require nor accept the Praxis Core. For instance, even if you’ve already passed Praxis Core, Minnesota’s Department of Education still requires you take the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examination (MTLE). In fact, Minnesota won’t even want to see your Praxis Core score—it’s simply not a requirement.
In addition, Minnesota goes a step further than California — and a step further than most states. Minnesota doesn’t even require Praxis Subject assessments. The state got rid of its Praxis II requirement in 2010, and now its subject-specific exams are also administered by MTLE.
How do I know which Praxis I need to take?
Trying to keep all of this straight can seem intimidating. How can you really know if you need to take a Praxis exam, or what Praxis exams you need to take? Fortunately, there are number of resources to help you find the Praxis requirements (or lack thereof) in the state where you plan to teach. First and foremost, your teacher training program will know your state’s Praxis requirements. Both university based and alternative teacher training programs have a close working relationship with the states they serve, and can give you current, accurate testing requirements.
Another good resource is ETS, the maker of the various Praxis exams. ETS has a portal for the Praxis requirements of all 50 states, as well as Praxis-accepting US territories. Last but not least are the actual boards of education for each state and territory. Directly checking government websites (or emailing/calling government offices if need be) is the absolute surest way to know a state’s current Praxis requirements.
What if I don’t know where I want to teach?
If you’re not yet sure which state you’ll teach in, there are a few rules of thumb you can follow as you prepare to get licensed somewhere in the U.S. First, remember that the Praxis Core is required less frequently than other Praxis exams; many states have substitutes for the CORE assessment. Next, remember that the Praxis Subject Assessments are the most commonly accepted Praxis exams. Nearly all states require qualifying Praxis Subject scores. And finally, remember that Praxis exams are the most common teacher licensing exams nationwide. If you want to be eligible in as many states as possible, preparing for the Praxis Core, Praxis PLT, and relevant Praxis Subject Assessment really is your safest bet.