The legal history of teacher certification in the Commonwealth of Virginia

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The rationale for a historical study is to record facts from documents and events in an organized manner, so that people of the future may have a better understanding of past events.

The Problem The purpose of this research project was to trace the legal and historical development of licensing and certification of public school teachers in the State of Virginia.

The main research question investigated: What is the legal history of teacher certification in Virginia? The secondary question investigated: What were the historical events that may have influenced changes in teacher certification in Virginia?

Procedures This research was structured within ten time periods beginning with the colonial period of Virginia through the present. An organized search was conducted to locate and analyze the historical documents that pertained to the topic.

Conclusions From this study, the following conclusions were drawn as based on this research:

  1. The requirement of a license and/or certificate to teach in the State of Virginia can be traced historically to the State’s English heritage and its colonial period.
  2. Virginia’s teacher certification has progressed through ten distinct periods.
  3. The certification regulations in the State have been influenced directly or indirectly by various political offices both State and national as well as by various domestic and international events.