There are three things required by the federal "No Child Left Behind" program to become a highly qualified teacher. Teachers must: 1) have at least a bachelor's degree, 2) have full state certification or licensure, and 3) prove that they know each subject they teach. While NCLB has standardized requirements for becoming a "highly qualified" teacher, how these standards are measured is left up to individual states. For the third requirement, each state determines what type of assessments they will use to measure your basic skills and content are knowledge. In some states this will take the form of a test, while in other states they may ask you to submit a portfolio with examples of your work.
When does my certificate expire?
Your initial teaching certificate is good for three years. When that certificate expires you will need to complete a renewal program that consists of various types of professional development. After completing the renewal requirements, you will receive a continuing certificate that is good for five years.
The 10-year Certificate - National Board Certification
Another option is National Board Teaching Certification that is good in all fifty states and lasts for ten years. In order to get this special certificate, you must complete a yearlong program of lesson analysis, submit video of yourself teaching, write several papers on your teaching practice, and pass a test. Many states give bonuses for teachers that achieve this special certification.