Certification primer for new
by Anne Millman
Mar 2, 2006 12:46 PM
Do you know whether you have a Provisional or Initial Certificate? Are
you clear about your requirements under a Transitional A or
Transitional B Certificate? Are you aware of your deadlines for
completing your requirements if you are working under an Extended or
Renewed Provisional Certificate?
If you are confused about these and other aspects of your state
certification, you’re not alone. In recent years, the State Education
Department (SED) increased the number of certificate categories to more
than 10, each with different requirements and deadlines. And the UFT is
fielding many of the questions of newer teachers looking for clear,
understandable and reliable answers.
“The state provided alternative routes to certification to give
prospective teachers greater flexibility, and that’s a good thing,”
notes Ann Rosen, UFT special representative for certification and
licensing. “But new teachers don’t always know which type of
certificate they have, and that could get them into trouble if they
don’t understand their requirements and meet their deadlines.”
To help teachers find their way, Rosen tracks all the SED changes and
trains a team of UFT consultants and educational liaisons. They, in
turn, offer workshops in schools and respond to teachers’ questions in
person, by telephone and via e-mail.
To address the most common points of confusion, Rosen helped prepare
this brief description of the various certification categories. If you
want fuller information, make an appointment with the UFT Certification
Services Department at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway
(1-212-420-1830). You can also speak to an educational liaison in your
UFT borough office or call or e-mail TeacherLine.
Check your credentials
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. Once you know your
certificate type and the expiration date, it’s possible to determine
the requirements you need to fulfill and the amount of time you have to
Here are the most common types of certificates teachers hold:
Provisional Certificate. This
is an entry-level certificate that the SED stopped issuing after Feb.
1, 2004. If you hold this certificate, you must complete the following
requirements for a permanent certificate before your provisional
certificate expires — five years from the effective date:
A master’s degree. The UFT Teacher Center, in collaboration with area
colleges, offers master’s degree programs, some at reduced rates, to
help you meet this requirement. Also, check the SED Web site
www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert for other options.
A passing grade on your Content Specialty Test (CST) and the ATS-P (the
performance video), if required for your certificate. The UFT Teacher
Center holds coaching sessions to prepare you for the ATS-P. Look for
announcements on this page, in New York Teacher ads and at
Permanent Certificate. This is
the certificate issued to anyone with a valid provisional certificate
issued on or before Feb. 1, 2004, who completes all requirements and
files an application before the provisional certificate expires.
Initial Certificate. This
entry-level certificate became available on Sept. 1, 2004, under the
new state requirements. With this certificate, you have five years from
the issue date to complete your requirements for a professional
A master’s degree;
12 graduate credits in the certificate area’s content core or a related
Three years of full-time teaching experience;
One year of mentoring; 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 175 hours of professional development (35
hours per year) within five years of the effective date to keep your
certificate valid. This requirement must be met every five years to
maintain this certificate.
The UFT is urging the DOE to credit teachers for the mandated
professional development they take each year during the four days
designated for staff development and at other times during the school
day under the terms of the new contract. Until an agreement is reached
with the DOE, the union urges you to keep in your personal file a log
and all paperwork showing the professional development you have taken.
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:
Conditional Initial Certificate.
The SED may issue a conditional initial certificate to candidates who
hold a teaching certificate in the same or equivalent title from
another state that is party to the Interstate Reciprocity Agreement but
who do not meet all New York State requirements. If you hold this
temporary certificate, you must meet the following requirements within
two years of the issue date:
Pass the LAST, ATS-W and CST certification exams (the UFT Teacher
Center offers coaching sessions for the LAST and ATS-W exams);
Complete the Child Abuse Recognition Workshop (available at low cost
through the UFT); and
Complete the Violence Prevention Training Workshop (offered through the
UFT School Safety Department).
In addition, within five years of the effective date of your
conditional initial certificate, you must complete all requirements for
the professional certificate.
Extended Certificate. Rarely, the SED issues this temporary certificate
to give a candidate with a provisional certificate some extra time to
complete all requirements for permanent certification. If you hold an
extended certificate, be sure to fulfill your remaining requirements
within the time limits specified in the extension. The state will not
grant a second extension.
Transitional A Certificate.
Districts which 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 an initial certificate.
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 filed your application
with the SED for a Transitional B certificate. The title of your
Transitional B certificate should match the master’s program in which
you are enrolled and the teaching position you hold. If they don’t
match, contact the DOE’s Teaching Fellows Program at
firstname.lastname@example.org. You have three years from the issue date to
complete your master’s degree and fulfill any test or other
requirements for the initial or professional certificate. When you do,
your college will process an application for the initial or
professional certificate, whichever pertains.
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. This certificate is not renewable.
Am I done yet?
Even after you have passed all your tests, fulfilled all your mandates
and achieved all your degrees, you’re still not quite done.
Remember that no certificate is issued automatically. Once you complete
your requirements, you have to apply to the SED for your permanent or
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.
You can download the application from the SED Web site,
www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert. It tells you all the documentation you
need to submit together with the $100 application fee. Make copies of
everything before you send it in. Mail your packet “Return Receipt
Requested” and file the receipt with the copies of your paperwork.
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