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New York State Certification, Professional Development, English Language Learners

Classroom Teachers Resources

Author: Research and Educational Services
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NYSUT Education & Learning Trust ELT Courses Approved Toward Specific NYS Certification Requirements

Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to New York State Teacher Certification

  • FAQ 1 – Professional Certification Requirements

    Q1:Once I have my Initial certificate, how many years do I have to complete the requirements for a Professional certificate?

    A1:The Initial certificate is valid for 5 years, during which time you must complete the requirements for the professional certificate. If you cannot complete all the requirements for the professional certificate in that 5-year window, you can apply for a time extension or a re-issuance of your initial certificate using the TEACH system.

    Q2:Will the State Education Department notify me when my initial certificate is about to expire?

    A2:Yes. If you have a current email in TEACH the State Education Department will contact you about 6 months prior to your initial certificate expiring. You can also check your TEACH account for the expiration date.

    Q3:What are the requirements for the professional certificate?

    A3:The requirements for the professional teaching certificate include:

    Q4:Can I use substitute teaching to fulfill part/all of the 3-year experience requirement?

    A4:Yes and No. If your initial certificate was issued after February 2, 2014 the substitute teaching experience needs to be in the area or areas for which you are certified to count as teaching experience.  Substitute teaching at the elementary level, for example, will not count if you are certified in grades 7-12 and your initial certificate was issued AFTER 2/2/14.

    If your initial certificate was issued prior to February 2, 2014, the substitute teaching experience does not have to be in the area(s) of your certificate(s).  Substitute teaching at the elementary level, for example, will count if you are certified in grades 7-12 and your initial certificate was issued PRIOR TO 2/2/14

    Q5:I have been employed as a teaching assistant while I search for a teaching position; will this experience count toward the 3 years?

    A5:No. Teaching assistant experience is not applicable to this requirement.

    Q6:What does SED require as evidence to show that I have fulfilled the 3 years of teaching experience requirement?

    A6:SED requires that you self-report your teaching experience on your TEACH account AND that your school/district completes and submits the 'Verification of Paid Experience Form for Classroom Teachers and Pupil Personnel Services Professionals.'

    Q7:When should I actually apply for the professional, as soon as I have met the requirements or at the end of the five year window?

    A7:When to apply is entirely up to you. Allow for three to four (3-4) months for the State Education Department to process your application.

    Q8:I hold Initial certificates in more than one subject (e.g., Childhood Education Grades 1-6 and English 7-12). Must I teach for three years in each subject area to meet the three-year experience requirement for a Professional certificate?

    A8:No. An individual who holds more than one classroom teaching certificate may meet the requirement with three years of classroom teaching experience in any of the certificate titles. For instance, a teacher who holds the Childhood Education (Grades 1-6) and English 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.

    Q9:Once I receive my Initial certificate, I will be enrolling in graduate school. How can I find out which master’s degrees will be acceptable toward satisfying the requirements for a Professional certificate?

    A9:You can go to Professional Certificate - Master's Degree Requirement to see the possible ways to meet the educational requirement for a Professional certificate. In layman’s terms, you can:

    • Pursue a graduate degree that leads to another certificate title, in NY or in another state;
    • Pursue a graduate degree in content area of your initial certificate;
    • Pursue a graduate degree that includes 12 credits in the content area or how to teach the content area of your initial certificate.

    If you earned your initial certification by completing a graduate level teacher education program and that college recommended you for the initial certificate, that same program satisfies the master’s degree requirement for the professional certificate.

    Some graduate programs work for all certificates as the state considers them related to all content areas.  These programs focus on grades P-12 and include: Special Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Instructional Technology, Literacy, Bilingual Education, and Teaching English as a Second Language.  NOTE: these programs must be completed at an institution with an approved teacher preparation program.

  • Approved Courses to Fulfill Specific Certification Competency Areas

    NYSUT’s Education & Learning Trust offers undergraduate and graduate courses in partnership that havebeen pre-approved by the NYS Education Department to as fulfill specific certification requirements. These courses are offered in partnership with NYS colleges and are available online and at reduced tuition rates.

  • FAQ 2 – Registering Certificates with the State Education Department

    Q1:      When did the registration requirement begin?

    A1:       The requirement to register with the state began on July 1, 2016.

    Q2:      Who is required to be registered?

    A2:       Permanently certified teachers/school building leaders, professionally certified teachers/school building leaders, and Level III Teaching Assistants are required to register with the state.  Chart for Registration and CTLE Requirements.

    If you have one of these certificates and it was issued after July 1, 2016, the state would have automatically registered your certificate in TEACH. On your TEACH home page select “View or Change Registration Status” to view your 5-year registration period.

    Q3:      What does the term “practicing” on the state’s Chart for Registration and CTLE Requirements mean?

    A3:       The term ‘Practicing’ is defined as ‘employed 90 days or more during a school year by a single applicable school in New York State. A day of employment includes a day actually worked in whole or in part, or a day not actually worked but a day paid.'

    Q4:      What does registering with the state actually mean?

    A4:      Registering is a step in the process of maintaining a certificate. Educators who are required to register can practice in an applicable school in NYS – see CTLE in Applicable Schools. Registering with the state also creates a 5-year registration cycle during which some certificate holders are required to complete a specific set of professional learning requirements called Continuing Teacher & Leader Education (CTLE) hours.

    Q5:      What are the registration options available in TEACH?

    A5:       Registered - Active: These educators are registered and are practicing in an applicable school

    Registered - Inactive: These educators are registered and are not practicing in an applicable school.

    Registration Expired: These educators were registered, but their registration period expired. They have not re-registered.

    Not Registered: These educators have never registered and did not begin the registration process.

    Registration/Re-Registration Incomplete: These educators began the registration/re-registration process but did not complete it.

    Q6:      Can I have more than one registration status during a 5-year registration cycle?

    A6:       Yes.  For example, an educator who was on a leave for one year during a 5-year registration cycle can be ‘Registered – Inactive’ for that year and then ‘Registered – Active’ once the leave is complete.

    Q7:      Is there a requirement to notify the State Education Department if I move or change my name?

    A7:      Yes.  If you are required to register regulations require that you notify the State Education Department within 30 days of moving or changing your name. These changes can be done on the certificate holder's TEACH account.

    Link to SED's June 29, 2021 Field Memo on the certificate registration process and CTLE requirements.

  • FAQ 3 – Re-Registering Certificates with the State Education Department

    Q1:      Who has to re-register?

    A1:      Permanently certified teachers/school building leaders, professionally certified teachers/school building leaders, and Level III Teaching Assistants must register with the State Education Department every five years. To check the start and end date of your registration cycle, select “View or Change Registration Status” on your TEACH home page. Registration & Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) Requirements.

    Q2:      Where can I find the state’s directions for re-registering my certificate(s)?

    A2:      The directions for re-registering are available at Re-registration and Conditional Registration Directions.

    Q3:      When should I re-register?

    A3:      Educators can re-register six months prior to their registration cycle expiration date.

    Q4:      Will the state notify me that my registration cycle is ending?

    A4:      Yes.  Using TEACH, the state will email individuals six months, three months, and one month prior to the expiration of their registration cycle. A valid email, preferably a home email, is required in TEACH to receive these notices.

    Q5:      When re-registering, TEACH asked me how many years I was practicing during my 5-year cycle. If I was on leave for a year, should I enter 4 years and not 5?

    A5:      Yes.  If you were not ‘practicing’ your response should reflect that. The term ‘Practicing’ is defined as ‘employed 90 days or more during a school year by a single applicable school in New York State. A day of employment includes a day actually worked in whole or in part, or a day not actually worked but a day paid.’

    Q5a:      What if I didn’t change my registration status to ‘Inactive’ in TEACH for the leave, should I still enter 4 years and not 5?

    A5a:      Yes.  The state recognizes that guidance regarding switching one’s registration status during a registration cycle was not as comprehensive as it could have been when this process started. The state has emphasized that it wants accurate information as the re-registration process is implemented.

    Q6:      What is the ‘Conditional Registration’?

    A6:      Conditional Registration is the state’s way of providing flexibility regarding the CTLE hours’ requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you could not complete the required 100 CTLE hours during this first registration cycle for any reason you can request a ‘Conditional Registration’ and the state will add an additional year to your 5-year registration cycle.

    Q7:      Do I need to submit any documentation to obtain a ‘Conditional Registration’?

    A7:      No.  No documentation is needed.

    Q8:      If I get a Conditional Registration, what do I need to do once I complete the missing CTLE hours?

    A8:      Once you complete the missing hours you can register for your next 5-year registration cycle. Note: you can do this beginning six months before the Conditional Registration expiration date.

    Q9:      What is the difference between a ‘conditional registration’ and an ‘adjustment’?

    A9:      A Conditional Registration adds one additional year to your current 5-year registration cycle and does not require any supporting documentation. Adding a year to your current registration cycle means that you will only be completing the missing CTLE hours during that extra year.

    An ‘Adjustment’ provides you with one more year to complete any missing CTLE hours yet requires documentation for the adjustment and the year provided does not get attached to your current 5-year registration cycle. In other words, you would need to complete any missing hours from your first registration cycle while simultaneously completing hours for your second registration cycle.

    Q10:      Is there a requirement to notify the State Education Department if I move or change my name?

    A10:      Yes.  Registration regulations require that you notify the State Education Department within 30 days of moving or changing your name. These changes can be done on your TEACH account.

  • FAQ 4 – Continuing Teacher & Leader Education (CTLE) Requirements

    Q1:      What types of certificates are subject to the Continuing Teacher & Leader Education hours’ requirement?

    A1:     Educators who hold a professional teacher or educational leader certificate or a Level III Teaching Assistant certificate are subject to the CTLE requirement. View SED's Chart for Registration and CTLE Requirements

    Q2:      What if I am not currently teaching – am I still required to complete CTLE hours?

    A2:      No. CTLE certificate holders (see A1 above) who are not practicing may select the registration status of ‘Registered – Inactive’ for as long as they are not practicing. During this time, you are not required to complete CTLE hours.

    Q3:      What does the term “practicing” mean?

    A3:      The term ‘Practicing’ is defined as ‘employed 90 days or more during a school year by a single applicable school in New York State. A day of employment includes a day actually worked in whole or in part, or a day not actually worked but a day paid.'

    Q4:      What will count toward these 100 hours?

    A4:      What counts for the CTLE hours’ requirement is a local determination and should be reflected in the district’s Professional Learning Plan to the extent possible. CTLE activities are offered by SED-approved sponsors which include districts, BOCES, and a variety of other providers - see Approved CTLE Sponsors.

    Q5:      Is there a definition for CTLE?

    A5:      CTLE activities are designed to improve the teacher or leader’s pedagogical and/or leadership skills and are targeted at improving student performance. The activities also promote the professionalization of teaching and educational leadership. CTLE activities should address the content one teaches and/or how one teaches that content, and language acquisition that addresses the needs of English language learners.

    Q6:      What is the CTLE Language Acquisition requirement?

    A6:      This requirement varies based on the certificate(s) you have. If you have an ESOL certificate or a Bilingual extension, half of your CTLE hours must be related to language acquisition. Other CTLE certificate holders must complete 15 CTLE hours in this area unless your district has an exemption - see CTLE Language Acquisition Requirement Exemption.

    Q7:      Can I bank CTLE hours from one 5-year registration period to the next?

    A7:      No.

    Q8:      Do I need to send documentation to the state so they know I completed my hours?

    A8:      No. No one is required to send documentation to the state unless the state education department specifically asks for it. You do need to keep records of your CTLE hours though - see CTLE Recordingkeeping and Documentation Requirements for the state’s expectations regarding record-keeping.

    Q9:      Where can I find the state’s guidance regarding the CTLE requirement?

    A9:      Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) Requirement This page contains an overview of CTLE requirements and links to specific subcomponents such as the language acquisition requirement, approved sponsors, and record-keeping.

    Link to SED's June 29, 2021 Field Memo on the certificate registration process and CTLE requirements

  • FAQ 5: Retirees: What do we do about registering with SED?

    Q1:      I am retired. If I don’t register with the State Education Department (SED), does that mean that my permanent certificate is no longer valid?

    A1:      No. A permanent certificate is still a lifetime credential.

    Q2:      I am a permanently certified retired teacher and I currently work occasionally as a substitute teacher in a local NYS public school. Do I need to register with SED?

    A2:      Maybe. If you are working in a NYS public school or BOCES for more than 90 days in a school year, the state would expect you to register as active. If you work less than 90 days in a school year, you can still register as Registered - Inactive.

    Q3:      I am a permanently certified retired teacher and have no current plans to work in a NYS public school or BOCES. Do I need to register with SED?

    A3:      You have a choice regarding registration. If you are fairly certain that you will not seek employment in a NYS public school or BOCES in the future, you can choose not to register. SED will consider you as just that, ‘Not Registered.’

    If you think there is a chance that you will work in a NYS public school or BOCES in the future, you can register with SED and choose to be considered “Inactive” by SED.

    Q4:      How do I register with SED?

    A4:      Registration is done using the TEACH system, which is SED’s online system for certification. If you do not have a TEACH account, you can create one here.

    Q5:      If I register, do I need to complete Continuing Teacher & Leader Education (CTLE) hours?

    A5:      No. This requirement does not impact permanent certificate holders.


Fact Sheets

Fact Sheet 17-12: Teacher Certification in New York State

All teachers employed in the public schools in New York State must hold a valid certificate and state certification is also required for teachers employed in state-operated and state-supported schools, Special Act school districts, approved private schools for the education of students with disabilities, and approved preschool special education programs. This Fact Sheet provides an overview of the certification process in New York State.

Fact Sheet 20-13: Certification Changes in Response to COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the State Education Department (SED) has amended several regulations that govern certification in NY. These amendments may help individuals with certificates that expire in August 2020, have applied/are applying for certificates or certificate extensions before September 1, 2020, as well as special education teachers who teach in a special class.

Fact Sheet 20-17: Incidental Teaching & Substitute Teaching Changes in Response to COVID-19

In its continuing response to the COVID-19 crisis and the reopening of schools, the State Education Department has amended regulations that govern incidental teaching and substitute teaching. These changes are in effect for the 2020-2021 school year.

Fact Sheet 20-10: NYS Certification: Students with Disabilities

Special education certification has undergone many changes in the past 20 years. Prior to 2004, the special education certificate was considered an ‘All Grades’ certificate, or K-12. Individuals with this certificate could fulfill any and all assignments related to special education, including special class assignments.

Fact Sheet 20-18: Middle Level Flexibility and CTE Certification

As of the 2018-2019 school year all districts have flexibility in terms of fulfilling the middle level program requirements of a unit of study in Technology Education and the ¾ unit of study in Family & Consumer Sciences. Districts have the option of continuing to fulfill this 1 and ¾ unit of study with FACS and Tech Ed or they can fulfill this requirement by using any of the CTE content areas: technology education, family & consumer sciences, business, health sciences, agriculture, or trade and technical education. In May 2017, the Board of Regents adopted regulations that amended the requirements necessary to obtain Career and Technical Education (CTE) certificate titles. The state used the nationally recognized Career Clusters structure (attachment A) as a framework for CTE certification and streamlined the requirements for certification in Career and Technical Education.

Fact Sheet 21-8 Teacher Certification in Computer Science

The NYS Board of Regents adopted regulations in March 2018 that created a classroom teaching certificate in computer science and a corresponding tenure area. The regulations designate the computer science certificate as part of the ‘special subjects’ tenure area. The regulations also identified multiple pathways to obtain the computer science certificate that include course work, course work and/or work experience, and a ‘grandfathering’ provision for those teachers currently teaching computer science courses.

Fact Sheet 17-11: Registration and CTLE (Teachers)

The 2015 New York State budget included requirements for certain certificate holders to register with the State Education Department (SED) and complete Continuing Teacher & Leader Education hours (CTLE hours). These new requirements went into effect July 1, 2016 and this Fact Sheet addresses some of the details of the registration process.

Fact Sheet 16-4: Requirements for Supplementary Certificates for Teaching English Language Learners in NYS

Changes to Part 154 of Commissioner's Regulations in 2015 that layout the requirements for the instruction of English Language Learners (ELL) require that the majority of instruction for ELLs be integrated into the content areas, especially English Language Arts. As a result, many ESOL-certified teachers and grade/content-certified teachers are interested in adding either a content area or ESOL certificate to their base certificate(s).

Fact Sheet 14-3: Training in Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination Prevention and Intervention

In June 2012, the Legislature enacted Chapter 102 of the Laws of 2012, which amended the Dignity Act to include a requirement that school professionals applying for a certificate or license on or after July 1, 2013 complete training on the social patterns of harassment, bullying and discrimination. In June 2013 the Legislature amended the effective date to December 31, 2013.

Fact Sheet 13-4: Training in the Needs of Students with Autism

Chapter 143 of the Laws of 2006 requires that after September 1, 2009 individuals applying for a teaching certificate as a special education teacher complete course work or training in the area of children with autism. The course work or training must be obtained from an institution or provider which has been approved by the State Education Department to provide such course work or training.

Fact Sheet 17-10: Supplementary Teaching Certificate

The Supplementary Teaching Certificate allows teachers certified in one classroom teaching area to provide instruction in a different certificate area where there is a demonstrated shortage of qualified teachers, for up to three years, while pursuing the requirements necessary for the new certificate title.

Fact Sheet 12-3: Certification Types for Teachers and Teaching Assistants

It is important for members to know which certificate(s) they possess and how to maintain these credentials in order to protect their career and livelihood. Local leaders should be aware of the variety of certificate types and the purpose and validity of each certificate. If you should have any questions about certification or these certificate types, please contact NYSUT Research & Educational Services.

Fact Sheet 12-4: Incidental Teaching

Incidental teaching occurs when a teacher is assigned to teach a subject outside of the teacher's certification area for a period that does not exceed five classroom hours a week. Such an assignment may only take place under specific circumstances and this Fact Sheet provides an overview of regulatory requirements that govern incidental teaching.

Fact Sheet 19-17: Teacher Shortage in New York State

In the past several years, the national teacher shortage has captured the attention of educators, researchers, policymakers and the media. While estimates regarding the severity of the shortage vary, there is widespread consensus that demand for teachers is certainly on the rise. The U.S. Department of Education has estimated that 1.6 million or approximately 160,000 new teachers per year would be needed nationally between 2012 and 2020. A report from the Learning Policy Institute estimated the number even higher, predicting that schools will need approximately 300,000 new teachers per year by 2020. In New York, state officials estimate we will need approximately 180,000 new teachers over the next decade -- or up to 18,000 new teachers annually.

NYS Teacher Certification Flexibility Limited Extensions in Times of Fiscal Crisis

The New York State Board of Regents adopted these regulations that allow for teacher certification flexibility to avoid or mitigate layoffs after the Great Recession. Certain general education and students with disabilities teachers could be reassigned to teach in grades close to their certification area for up to two years while the completed requirements to make these "limited extensions" permanent. Section 80-4.3 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education governs the issuance of these "Limited Extensions" and this Fact Sheet provides an overview of those requirements.


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