Certification Requirements for Teaching Assistants

Background

In February 2004, the NYS Education Department implemented new regulations governing the certification of Teaching Assistants in New York. These regulations increased the preparation requirements for teaching assistants and created a career ladder for teaching assistants. 

This Fact Sheet focuses on certification requirements for teaching assistants post February 2004. It also summarizes the duties of teacher aides and teaching assistants in the areas of employment, job duties, licensing and certification, including New York State laws and regulations governing each area. Finally, it addresses the most frequently asked questions related to certification and licensure.

The document is provided for general information purposes only. An official response on the interpretation of certification regulations or the determination of individual certification status can only be obtained from the Office of Teaching Initiatives of the New York State Education Department.

Teaching Assistants

According to the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, Section 80-5.6:

A teaching assistant “is appointed by a board of education to provide, under the general supervision of a licensed or certified teacher, direct instructional service to students” (emphasis added). The teaching assistant is provided “general” (as contrasted with direct or personal) supervision by the certified teacher(s) who are responsible for the student’s instruction.

Commissioner’s Regulations also describe the duties of a teaching assistant:

  • Working with individual pupils or groups of pupils on special instructional projects;
  • Providing the teacher with information about pupils that will assist the teacher in the development of appropriate learning experiences;
  • Assisting pupils in the use of available instructional resources, and assisting in the development of instructional materials;
  • Utilizing their own special skills and abilities by assisting in instructional programs in such areas as:  foreign languages, arts, crafts, music and similar subjects; and
  • Assisting in related instructional work as required.

Teaching assistants, unlike teacher aides, are members of the teaching staff and must be given a probationary appointment as a teaching assistant and are eligible for tenure according to Section 30.8(d) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.

Level I

  • high school diploma or equivalent
  • pass ATAS (New York State Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills Test)
  • Child Abuse workshop
  • School Violence Prevention workshop
  • 6-hour Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination Prevention and Intervention training
  • valid for three years
  • may be renewed once for three years with a commitment for employment
  • commitment for employment must be verified by district/BOCES using superintendent statements via TEACH online services

Level II

  • high school diploma or equivalent
  • 9 college credits
  • worked for one year as teaching assistant
  • valid for three years
  • not renewable

Level III

  • high school diploma or equivalent
  • a total of 18 college credits
  • worked for one year as teaching assistant
  • continuously valid with 100 CTLE hours every five years

Pre-Professional

  • high school diploma or equivalent
  • 18 college credits
  • matriculation in teacher preparation program
  • worked for one year as teaching assistant
  • valid for five years
  • may be renewed if individual has taken 30 college credits in the previous five year period

All applications for teaching assistant certificates are done using the State Education Department’s TEACH online system - http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/teach/home.html

When applying for a certificate, please note the following:

  • The state requires that all documents (letters, high school diplomas, college transcripts) submitted for certification purposes must include the applicant’s name as it appears on TEACH, the last four digits of the applicant’s social security number, and the applicant’s date of birth. If this information is not on the actual document, attach a cover letter including this information to the document before sending it to SED.
  • SED provides guidance for submitting proof of a high school diploma or equivalent for Level I certificates at http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/teach/submitdocs.html.
  • As of September 1 2016, SED requires all applicants for certification to use a form to verify employment as a teaching assistant to progress to Level II or Level III.  The Verification of Experience form can be found at http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/certificate/form.html.
  • The 6-hour DASA workshop is required for any application for certification submitted after January 1, 2014. Individuals in need of the workshop can check for approved providers at http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/certificate/dasa-applicant.html and can also check with local BOCES, NYS colleges/universities that offer teacher education programs, and teacher centers.
  • The Level III certificate is continuously valid, provided that the Continuing Teacher & Leader Education (CTLE) hours’ requirement of 100 hours every five years is met.
  • It is possible to move from Level I to Level III directly after one year of employment as a TA if the applicant has the appropriate number of college credits completed.
  • College credits required for Levels II and III do not have to be earned in education courses; they just need to be earned at accredited colleges.

The State Education Department website provided a summary of the requirements for each Teaching Assistant certificate level (I, II, III) and useful information regarding the application process.

Portability of Teaching Assistant Credential

A continuing certificate as well as a Level I, II or III certificate or a Pre-Professional certificate is portable across school district and BOCES boundaries, in the same way a teaching certificate is portable. A teaching assistant is not required to obtain a new certificate if they choose to seek employment in another school district or BOCES.

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