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Certification

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To answer any questions about your certification, you first must know the type of certificate you currently hold. You’ll find that by checking the face of your state certificate. First-year teachers can consult a recent New York City Department of Education (DOE) e-mail that clearly identifies individual appointment, licensing and certification details, including codes and dates.

Certification news and updates

Types of certificates

Here are the most common types of certificates New York City teachers hold:

Initial certificate

This is the entry-level certificate. With this certificate, you have five years from the issue date to complete the following requirements for a professional certificate:

  • A master’s degree;
  • 12 graduate credits in the certificate area’s content core or a related field (if your master’s degree is pedagogical, this 12-credit requirement is already met by the program);
  • Three years of full-time teaching experience;
  • One year of mentored experience; and
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent residency.

Professional certificate

With this advanced certificate, you have met all current state requirements. However, even after you achieve your professional certificate, the SED requires you to complete 100 Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) hours (20 hours per year) within five years of the issue date to keep your certificate valid. The five-year cycle will repeat for as long as you wish to maintain your certificate.The UFT and UFT Teacher Center are also CTLE providers. For more information, visit the state website. Make your plans for meeting this requirement a part of your professional conversation with your principal before starting to track your hours. Be sure to collect CTLE certificates from your providers.

Permanent certificate

This is the advanced certificate for license holders who were certified in (1) classroom teaching prior to Feb. 2, 2004; (2) administrative and supervisory certificate titles prior to Sept. 2, 2007; and (3) pupil personnel certificate titles.

Special situations

Under special circumstances, the SED may issue temporary certificates to candidates who do not meet all the qualifications for an initial certificate but who fill a specific educational/recruitment need. Here are a few examples:

Transitional A certificate

Districts that need teachers in specific technical or vocational fields may offer this temporary certificate to candidates who have related work experience but who do not meet all the requirements for an initial certificate. With this certificate, you have three years from the issue date to complete the requirements for a career and technical education initial certificate. For details on those requirements, call an educational liaison in your UFT borough office or UFT Certification Services at 1-212-420-1830.

Transitional B certificate

This temporary certificate is issued to those enrolled in an alternative teacher certification program, such as Teaching Fellows. The college in which you are enrolled for the master’s degree under this alternative teacher certification program is responsible for recommending you to the SED for a Transitional B certificate.

To ensure that you will fulfill the state mandates as a “highly qualified” teacher, it is very important that the title of your Transitional B certificate matches: a. the master’s program in which you are enrolled; and b. the teaching position for which you were hired. You have three years from the issue date of your Transitional B certificate to complete your master’s degree and fulfill any test and other requirements for the initial or professional certificate. When you have done so, your college must recommend you for either the initial or professional certificate, whichever pertains. You must log into your TEACH account to apply for your Trans B and successive certificates.

Internship certificate

Students enrolled in an approved graduate teacher education program may qualify for this certificate, provided they have completed half of the program’s credit hours. The graduate school has to request this certificate for you and it allows you to teach full time in a position that matches the certificate title. You have two years to complete your course and test requirements for the initial certificate; in addition, your college must recommend you for the initial certificate. You cannot renew or extend your Internship Certificate. In order for you to be hired under an internship certificate, the city requires you to have passed all exams except the edTPA.

Becoming certified

Individuals applying for certification on or after May 1, 2014 must pass

  • New York State certification exams:
    • The Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA): The edTPA is a portfoliobased assessment for preservice teacher candidates, i.e., those individuals seeking their first New York State teaching certificate. Individuals taking the edTPA are required to complete a 20-minute video segment of themselves teaching K-12 students.
    • Educating All Students (EAS): This examination is designed to assess if an individual possesses the professional and pedagogical knowledge and skills to teach all students effectively in New York State public schools. The EAS tests knowledge of how to use research-validated instructional strategies; knowledge of legal, ethical and professional responsibilities in educational settings; and the importance of parent/guardian involvement in a child’s education.
    • Revised Content Specialty Tests (CST): The revised examinations will focus on knowledge of the NYS Learning Standards associated with the candidate’s subject specific teaching certification area, as well as the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards in English language arts and literacy and mathematics.

All New York City teacher certification examinations are offered year round through computer-based testing. Visit NYSTCE to find test sites and to register.

Remember that no certificate is issued automatically. Once you complete your requirements, you have to apply to the SED online. Check your TEACH online account for the documents you need to submit together with your application fee. Make copies of everything before you send them in. Mail your packet “Return Receipt Requested” and file the receipt with the copies of your paperwork.

Since it takes time to process your application, it’s a good idea to complete all your requirements early and to apply at least six months before your provisional or initial certificate expires.

Also, if you move, remember to notify the DOE, the SED and the UFT about your change of address. Otherwise you may not receive mailed notices or certificates and may miss important deadlines or other vital information.

Remember, when in doubt, reach out to an educational liaison or a certification specialist by calling the UFT at 212-331-6311 (or, if you are a member of a DOE functional chapter, 212-331-6312).

My teacher certification is expiring. What action should I take? How do I apply for an extension?

If your certification is expiring you need to do the following:

a. You will need to apply for the appropriate certificate through your Teach account.

b. You will need to complete an OT 37 Verification of Paid Experience Form and submit to your Human Resource Director.

c. Send an email to mentorverification@schools.nyc.gov to submit your mentored experience

d. Follow up with a certification specialist in your UFT borough office, especially if you have further questions.

How do I apply for a Professional or Level 3 Teaching Certificate?

Apply through NYSED at: www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/teach/home.html. If you have problems logging in, email tcert@nysed.gov and type "forgot username/password" on the subject line. 

What exams are required for a NYS teaching certificate: CST, edTPA, EAS?

The main exams required for state certification are the EAS (Educating All Students); CST (Content Specialty Test); and the EdTPA which is a performance-based exam that is subject-specific. If the person is applying for a bilingual or special education certificate, additional exams are also required.

Can you provide some examples of the certification requirements for general and special education teachers working in an Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) environment?

Yes. These are some examples provided by the State Education Department: http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/pdf/teachingandcertificationscenarios-accessible.pdf.

For more information, see the UFT's Q&A on the Issues column about ICT/Co-Teaching classes.

What happens to my seniority if I switch licenses?

If you switch licenses, you maintain all the seniority you have accrued. However, for excessing and layoff purposes, probationers are grouped separately from those who have completed probation. When you switch licenses, until you complete probation you will be grouped with probationers. Once you are tenured, you will assume your rightful place in seniority order, reflecting all your years of service in the DOE, within the new license.

Is there a deadline for completing DASA training?

The deadline for completing DASA training depends on the expiration date of your certificate; you must complete your training before applying for a new certificate.

If I already hold state certification but am applying for a new certificate, do I need to complete DASA training?

Yes. If, for example, you are a professional certificate holder and want an additional certificate, you will need to complete DASA training for your additional certificate.

Who needs to complete DASA training?

School professionals (teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, psychologists and social workers) who are applying for state certification after December 31, 2013 must take this six-hour course. This includes members who are applying for new certificates (for example, paraprofessionals going from a Level 1 to a Level 2 or 3).

Members who meet the following criteria do not need to take the course: a) permanently or professionally certified; b) hired prior to 2004; c) Level 3 certificate holders (paras) and applicants for certification prior to Jan. 1, 2014.

If you are not sure if you require this workshop, contact the certification department at 212-420-1830.

What is DASA training?

The Dignity for All Students Act mandates that anyone applying for a New York State teaching license or certificate after December 31, 2013 complete six hours of training on harassment, bullying and discrimination in schools.

Who needs to be certified?

Classroom teachers, administrative and supervisory personnel, paraprofessionals and pupil personnel service professionals are required to hold a certificate issued by New York State in order to be employed in the state's public schools. Certificates are issued in a wide variety of titles in each of these three major categories.  In addition, New York State also requires that coaches, visiting lecturers and teachers of adult, community and continuing education obtain a special license.

Who is required to be fingerprinted?

All applicants for certificates, licensees, or permits must undergo a fingerprint-supported criminal history background check.

State law requires the State Education Department to conduct these background checks for all school personnel, including applicants for certification, in addition to all prospective employees of school districts, charter schools and boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES).

The Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability (OSPRA) within the Office of Teaching Initiatives is responsible for monitoring this process. Criminal History Background checks require a $91.50 payment, which covers both a NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services search and an FBI review.  For more information contact OSPRA at ospra@mail.nysed.gov

I hold Initial Certificates in more than one subject (i.e., Childhood Education, Grades 1-6 and English, Grades 7-12). Must I teach for three years in each subject area to meet the three-year experience requirement for a Professional certificate?

No. An individual who holds more than one classroom teaching certificate may meet the three-year experience requirement with any three years of classroom teaching experience. For instance, a teacher who holds the Childhood Education (Grades 1-6) and English (Grades 7-12) certificates could satisfy the experience requirement for both certificates by teaching for three years in an elementary classroom, three years as a secondary English teacher, or a combination of both.

Please note that service in one of the three certificate areas (classroom teaching, pupil personnel service, and school leadership) may not be used to satisfy the experience requirement in either of the other two areas.

Must I wait until I have completed all requirements for a certificate before applying for an individual evaluation?

No. As long as you hold the minimum degree (usually a bachelor's degree, with a minimum 2.5 GPA) required for a certificate, you may submit an application at any time. In order to receive a written evaluation of your status for a certificate you must file an application, submit payment, and submit official transcripts.

I hold a certificate from another state. Do I still have to apply for a New York State teacher certificate?

Yes, you must hold a New York State certificate to teach in the state's public schools. Reciprocity under the Interstate Agreement of Qualification of Educational Personnel is limited to coursework requirements only. You must complete any examination requirements a member state may have. 

I am changing careers. Is there an easier way for me to get certified?

You may be interested in an alternative teacher certification program specifically designed for career changers. While you must meet all coursework and other requirements, these programs offer a time-shortened, intensive preparation program operated cooperatively by a college and school district.  Alternative programs also allow you to be employed as a teacher while in the program.

How do I change licenses? What are the consequences of doing so?
In order to change a license/appointment, you must have the certificate needed for the new appointment and a principal’s recommendation to fill a vacancy in the new area. Teachers who change their license/appointment area go back on probation for at least three years if they are tenured in the previous area and four years if they were not tenured. There is also an effect on seniority for excessing and layoff. Be very careful about making this kind of change, especially when budgets may necessitate layoffs and excessing. Speak to your UFT chapter leader or borough office before deciding.
Am I allowed to teach outside of my license area?

State regulations permit teachers to be assigned no more than one period a day outside their certification, license/appointment area. This is called incidental teaching.

Where can I find out what the requirements are for my certificate/license?

The requirements for New York State certificates can be found at www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert. There are no separate requirements for a New York City license other than the availability of a vacancy in the certificate area and the recommendation of a principal to hire the person for the vacancy.

What is the difference between a state certificate and a city license?

You must have New York State certification to be hired for a full-time teaching position in New York City. The position must match the state certificate. New York City no longer issues a separate paper license, but there is still a license/appointment process that must take place in the DOE computer system once someone is hired. This determines your tenure track and your seniority for excessing and layoff.