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COVID-caused changes to certification, tenure

New York Teacher

Gaining tenure is an important milestone for new teachers. Having tenure means you can’t be terminated without due process and you’re entitled to a hearing if the Department of Education takes disciplinary action that could lead to termination.

Because your tenure becomes permanent only after you complete your certification requirements, it’s important to keep track of the progress you’re making toward your New York State teaching certificate. The UFT fought for amendments to some of the regulations that govern certification so educators are not penalized by the interruptions caused by the pandemic.

Changes to the certification process

The deadline to apply for the state’s Emergency COVID-19 certificate has been extended to Sept. 1, 2021. You may be eligible for this certificate if you are a candidate for a certificate or a certificate extension and you have completed all the requirements except state certification exams.

You can apply for the COVID-19 certificate using TEACH Online Services at www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/teach. The certificate is valid for one year, during which you must take and pass the missing exam. You must also apply and pay the fee for the nonemergency certificate in the same title as your COVID-19 certificate by Sept. 1, 2021.

If you applied for the Emergency COVID-19 certificate before Sept. 15, 2020, the deadline to meet your certificate requirements has automatically been extended to Sept. 1, 2021.

Update: The certification requirement deadlines for the Emergency COVID-19 certificate have been extended from September 1, 2021 to September 1, 2022. See the NYSED website » Some candidates may also be eligible for the edTPA safety net, and may pass the Assessment of Teaching Skills – Written (ATS-W) exam in lieu of passing the edTPA. See the NYSED website »

The New York State Education Department now also accepts electronic transcripts and virtual or online work-shops to fulfill Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) requirements. The UFT offers remote DASA courses for teachers and paraprofessionals. 

Changes to the tenure process

The UFT worked with the DOE and the State Education Department to ensure that no member would be harmed by the moratorium on teacher evaluations for the 2019–20 school year. We intend to make sure the delay in implementing a teacher evaluation system for the 2020–21 school year does not hurt probationary teachers either.

In the meantime, you can take many steps to prepare for your tenure decision. First, you’ll need to know your tenure date; to find it, check with your payroll secretary.

In New York City, tenure is granted in your license appointment area, which is why it is of utmost importance that your license code matches the subject and level in which you are teaching.

In preparing for tenure, you’ll want to keep records and documents that reflect on your performance, such as observation reports; notes or emails to and from your col-leagues, mentor, supervisors and parents; and evidence of your professional contributions to your school. Add a brief explanation or context for each piece of evidence you include and be sure to show how you differentiate instruction to accommodate children with diverse abilities.

If you are building a tenure portfolio, this is an ideal year to try digital record keeping. You can use online resources like Dropbox or Google Drive to store your files.

The UFT regularly offers tenure workshops in each district in collaboration with superintendents, who approve tenure recommendations. You should receive an email from your district representative about upcoming online workshops.

If you have any questions, call the UFT at 212-331-6311.

Related Topics: Certification