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New York State Certification, Professional Development, English Language Learners

Classroom Teachers Resources

Author: Research and Educational Services

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.  Beginning in the summer of 2017, the State Education Department has begun to notify holders of certificates that will be expiring within 6 months.  For this notification to work, the certificate holder must have a valid e-mail address in the TEACH system.

    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.  The substitute teaching experience needs to be in the area or areas for which you are certified to qualify as teaching experience. For example, substitute teaching at the elementary level will not count if you are certified in grades 7-12.

    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 you complete and submit their ‘Verification of Experience’ form.

    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.

                 Please note that service in non-classroom teaching areas such as pupil personnel services or school leadership may not be used to satisfy the experience requirement for classroom teaching. 

    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.

  • Approved Courses to Fulfill Specific Certification Competency Areas

    NYSUT’s Education & Learning Trust offers undergraduate and graduate courses in partnership that have been 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

    A1:      The registration process began July 1, 2016.

    Q2:      Exactly when do I need to register?

    A2:      You can register any time after July 1, 2016 and you do not need to wait until your birthday month.  SED guidance is that you complete the registration process before the end of your birth month. There is no charge to register. 

    Q3:      Who has to register their NYS certificate(s) with the State Education Department (SED)?

    A3:      View SED's Chart for Registration and CTLE Requirements.  Note: the term ‘Practicing’ on SED’s chart is defined as ‘working more than 90 days or more during a school year by a single applicable school in New York in a position requiring certification. A single day of employment shall include a day actually worked in whole or in part, or a day not actually worked but a day paid.’

    Q4:      Do permanently certified teachers who are not currently working as teachers need to register with the State Education Department?

    A4:      No.  According to SED, you could identify yourself as Inactive on your TEACH account or be considered ‘Not Registered’.

    Inactive status means that you have notified SED that you are not practicing (working) in a NYS public school or BOCES.  If you resume work in a NYS public school or BOCES then you would be required to change the status to ‘registered’

    SED defines ‘Practicing’ as employed for 90 days or more during a school year by a single applicable school district or BOCES in a position requiring certification.

    Q5:      Do permanently certified Pupil Personnel Services providers (School Attendance Teachers, School Counselors, School Psychologists, School Social Workers, School Dental Hygiene Teachers and School Nurse Teachers) need to register their certificates?

    A5:      No. Pupil Personnel Service providers are not impacted by this new requirement.

    Q6:      If I am retired and do not register with the State Education Department (SED), does that mean that my permanent certificate is no longer valid?

    A6:      No.  A permanent certificate is still a lifetime certificate. If you decide that you want to work in a public school or BOCES at a later date, you will need to register with SED before beginning employment.

    Q7:      Do teaching assistants with pre-2004 continuing certificates need to register their certificates with the State Education Department?

    A7:      No.

    Q8:      Is there a requirement to notify the State Education Department if I move?

    A8:      Yes.  Impacted certificate holders are required to notify the State Education Department within 30 days of moving.  Address changes can be done on the certification holder's TEACH account.

    Q9:      Is there a fee for this registration process?

    A9:      SED has waived the fee for the first 5-year registration cycle – see SED's June 1, 2016 Field Memo.   For the second 5-year registration cycle, regulations stipulate that a late fee of $10.00/month will be charged to certificate holders if they fail to register in the month of their birth.

    Q10:     Do individuals with a Speech and Language Disability certificate need to register?

    A10:     Yes. This certificate title is considered a Classroom Teaching title by SED and thus subject to the registration requirement.

    Q11:     SED includes a series of ‘moral character’ questions in the registration process.  Are they allowed to do this?

    A11:     Yes. SED has the legal authority to ask these ‘moral character’ questions as well as questions pertaining to child support payments.  Similar questions are asked to members of other professions in NYS.

    Link to SED's June 1, 2016 Field Memo on the certificate registration process and CTLE requirements

  • FAQ 3 – Continuing Teacher & Leader Education (CTLE) Requirements

    Q1:      Who will be required to complete these continuing teacher education hours?

    A1:     View SED's Chart for Registration and CTLE Requirements

    Q2:      Do teaching assistants with a continuing certificate need to complete CTLE hours?

    A2:      No.

    Q3:      Do these 100 hours of continuing teacher education replace the current professional development hours’ requirement for teachers and Level III teaching assistants?

    A3:      Yes.

    Q4:      What will count toward these 100 hours?

    A4:      The new regulations require that the CTLE be rigorous and offered by SED-approved sponsors. The rigorous portion of this requires that CTLE be aligned with the NYS Professional Development Standards - http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/pdf/pdstds.pdf.

    Q5:      Who are approved sponsors?

    A5:      School districts are specifically listed in the law as an approved provider for CTLE.

    Other providers listed in the regulations include BOCES, teacher centers, NYS institutions of higher education, NYSUT's Education & Learning Trust, and other 'professional organizations'.

    SED is currently developing the process to formally approve all sponsors, those listed above as well as other entities.

    Q6:      When will this “100 hour” requirement begin?

    A6:      The requirement began July 1, 2016 and is aligned with an individual’s 5-year registration cycle. A certificate holder’s 5-year cycle will end on the last day of the month prior to one’s birth month.

    According to SED, professional development for completed on or after July 1, 2016, but before the individual’s birthday month (at which time the individual must register) will be counted toward the 100 CTLE hours’ requirement for the first 5-year cycle.  

    Q7:      I plan on getting my professional teaching certificate in August 2016Íž when will these CTLE hours impact me?

    A7:      If you obtain a professional certificate after July 1, 2016, SED will automatically register you upon issuing the certificate. Your CTLE hours will be done in the 5-year registration cycle that begins with you receiving the professional certificate, specifically starting in the month of your birth. After your first 5-year cycle, you will need to register with SED to begin the next cycle.

    Q8:      Can I bank CTLE hours from one 5-year registration period to the next?

    A8:      No

    Link to SED's June 1, 2016 Field Memo on the certificate registration process and CTLE requirements

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 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 13-3: New Certification Exams

As part of its Race to the Top application, the State Education Department committed to redesigning the examinations required for initial teacher and school building leader certification in NYS. This fact sheet provides a summary of changes impacting individuals applying for an initial teaching certificate on or after May 1, 2014. The table below indicates what examinations will be required for individuals pursuing their first teaching certificate.

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.

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.