Character & Fitness

COVID-19 and Clearance: Currently there are few options for fingerprinting. You will not be required to obtain clearance until you are placed in a school district for field experience. At that time, please contact Teacher.Certification@wwu.edu or 360-650-3388 for instructions as the process is different from that outlined below. As soon as fingerprinting becomes available, we will resume the usual process. Please contact the Certification Office if you have been fingerprinted for work in the schools or for DCYF or if you hold a valid Washington State teaching certificate issued by OSPI.   The Pre-Residency Clearance Application process remains unchanged.


Evidence of good moral character and personal fitness must be provided upon admission to the following educator certification programs:

  • Residency Teacher
  • Residency Educational Staff Associate / School Counselor
  • Residency Principal (candidates who do not hold a valid Washington State certificate)
  • Initial Superintendent (candidates who do not hold a valid Washington State certificate)

Character and fitness is established through two separate but related processes and maintained through certification:

  1. If you already have fingerprint clearance, fill out the Pre-Residency Clearance Application. Print and follow these instructions carefully!  ECert is not an intuitive system. You cannot start the process, save it, and come back to it later.

  • Any reportable incidents must be fully disclosed and documentation provided as soon as possible.  Documentation can be collected and uploaded after you've completed the Pre-Residency Clearance application.
  • The Pre-Residency Clearance is valid for two years, however, if your answer to any question on this webform changes notify the Woodring Certification Office immediately.

Current Fingerprinting Options:

  1. Fingerprinting Background Check: All candidates need Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) fingerprint clearance; Early Childhood Education candidates also need Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) fingerprint clearance.  Candidates with a DCYF clearance can get it transferred to OSPI, see below. 

Clearance by the OSPI Office of Professional Practices

Incidents reported through these two processes, if any, are investigated by the OSPI Office of Professional Practices. No student may participate in a University-sponsored activity in the public schools until cleared by the Washington State Patrol record check, and if applicable, investigated and cleared by OSPI. Clearance by OSPI is valid for two years and must be maintained until program completion and recommendation for certification.

Other Evidence of Character and Fitness

Students must abide by their program's conduct policies. Toward the end of a candidate’s program and prior to recommendation for the first certificate, the Dean of Woodring College of Education is required by Washington Administrative Code to sign an affidavit affirming that faculty and staff "have no knowledge related to the applicant’s character and fitness that would adversely affect the applicant’s ability to serve in a certificated role."