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About Certification for Applicants Prepared in Pennsylvania

About Certification for Applicants Prepared in Pennsylvania

These questions and answers are based on current regulations 22 PA Code Chapter 49, Certification of Professional Personnel as of September 1999.

1. What is certification?

Certification is a process to verify the qualifications and proper training of each professional educator to execute his or her professional responsibilities. All professional employees of public schools must hold a certificate. The State Board of Education sets the standards and regulations for certification, and the Department of Education's Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality administers those standards and regulations.

2. Do I need a certificate to hold a professional position in the public schools?

Yes. All public schools and some private schools in Pennsylvania require their professional employees to be properly certified.

3. Must you hold a Pennsylvania certificate to substitute teach in a public school?

Yes. Any professional serving in the public schools must hold an appropriate, valid Pennsylvania certificate.

4. Who on my campus can help me understand certification requirements?

All questions concerning requirements for professional certification should be directed to your adviser or the college/university certification office.

5. What type/area of certificate is required?

There are seven types of certificates: Intern, Instructional, Vocational Instructional, Educational Specialist, Supervisory, Administrative and Letter of Eligibility. Please refer to the list of Subject Areas and Codes on page nine (9), which includes the types and areas. Individuals must hold a valid, appropriate certificate with the proper endorsement area corresponding to the job assignment in order to serve in a Pennsylvania public school.

6. What do the terms "Level I" and "Level II" mean?

Pennsylvania currently has two levels of certification. The initial certificate, Level I, is valid for a specific number of service years, during which time you must complete established requirements. Upon completion of those requirements, the Level I may be converted to a Level II certificate. If not converted, the Level I lapses. You may not be employed in a Pennsylvania public school with a lapsed certificate.

7. How do I qualify for a certificate?

  • Complete an approved education preparation program at the bachelor's or graduate level;
  • Receive the recommendation of your preparing college/university;
  • Meet all testing requirements established by the State Board of Education; and
  • Meet all other requirements established by the School Code.

8. What testing requirements are currently necessary for certification?

Applicants requesting certification must complete the appropriate Pennsylvania testing requirements. Please refer to the PRAXIS Registration Bulletin, which indicates the appropriate tests required by Pennsylvania.

IMPORTANT: Applicants must meet the qualifying scores in effect at the time of application for certification, regardless of the score in effect at the time the applicant takes the test.

Appropriate passing test scores will be accepted if the tests were taken within a ten-year period prior to the postmarked date of your application for Pennsylvania certification. To be official, test scores must be received by this office directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) or in an ETS-sealed, unopened envelope. If you take the tests in Pennsylvania, the scores of teacher certification tests should be reported automatically to this Bureau by ETS.

Test dates, locations and registration procedures may be obtained by contacting:

The Praxis Series
Telephone: 609-771-7395
Educational Testing Service
Online: www.teachingandlearning.org
PO Box 6051
Princeton, NJ 08541-6051

Note: Testing regulations are subject to change.

9. When should I take these tests?

This should be a decision between you and the certification officer or your adviser at your college/university. Tests can be taken at any point during your preparation, but test scores are only valid for ten years after the date a test is taken. The Department of Education encourages everyone to consider taking the tests as soon as they feel they are ready.

10. How should I send my test scores to the Department of Education?

If you take the tests in Pennsylvania, the scores will be sent to us automatically. We will accept the scores for five years after the test administration. If you take any of the PRAXIS tests outside of Pennsylvania, please tell Educational Testing Services to send your score(s) to us by writing the code 8033 in the area where this information is requested.

11. Does my college/university need my scores?

Yes. In order to process your application, your college/university needs all your test scores. Please consult with your adviser or the certification office at your college/university or check the PRAXIS Series Registration Bulletin for the score recipient code for your college/university. This four-digit number must be placed in the appropriate boxes on your test registration information.

12. Will my Instructional I or Educational Specialist I certificate expire if I don't teach?

No. The Instructional I and Educational Specialist I are valid for six years of service time spent in the public schools of Pennsylvania.

NOTE: This validity period is for ACTUAL school years of service, not calendar years. Under current regulations, the Instructional I and Educational Specialist I remain valid until the holder, teaching/serving in a professional capacity in the public schools of this state for 50 percent or more of the school year, expends the six years of service time. Once the holder reaches that milestone, he/she must convert the Level I to a Level II.

13. Can my initial Instructional or Educational Specialist certificate be renewed?

No. If you complete six years of service in Pennsylvania, your Level I Instructional or Educational Specialist certificate must be converted to a Level II, or the certificate becomes invalid. You may not teach on an invalid certificate, nor will an Emergency Permit be issued in its place.

14. How do I keep my certificate active?

Beginning July 1, 2000, Act 48 of 1999 requires people holding Pennsylvania professional educator certification to complete continuing education requirements every five years in order to maintain their certificates as active. This information will also be printed on the reverse side of your PA Professional Certificate.

15. How do I add a subject to my certificate?

To place additional subjects/fields on your certificate, you must complete an approved college/university preparation program and successfully meet the appropriate PRAXIS specialty area test requirement.

In some cases, you can add an Instructional area to an existing Instructional Certificate if you take and pass the appropriate ACTFL/Praxis content test.  For additional information refer to Adding an Instructional Area to a PA Certificate .

16. How do I apply for a name change on my certificate?

If your name has been legally changed, you must complete and submit a "Credential Update - Name Change" application through the Teacher Information Management System  (TIMS).  There is no processing fee for a name change.

17.  How do I apply for a duplicate certificate?

If you have lost your Pennsylvania certificate, you may print a copy through the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS).  There is no processing fee for printing.

18.  How do I find a teaching position in Pennsylvania?

School staffing is the responsibility of the chief school administrator in each school district.  You should apply directly to the chief school administrator at the school district.  The names and addresses of these officers are usually available in most college placement office libraries.  Names and addresses of local school administrators are listed in the "Pennsylvania Education Directory" available for a fee from Applied Arts Publishers, Box 479, Lebanon, PA  17042 Telephone: (717) 272-9442.  Information on job vacancies may also be found on the Department's website at Finding a Teaching Position.

19. How do I contact the Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality?

You may contact us by mail or phone at the following:

Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality
Pennsylvania Department of Education
333 Market Street, 12th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Telephone: 717-787-3356

For additional information, please contact:

Division of Certification Services

Pennsylvania Department of Education - School Leadership and Teacher Quality
333 Market Street | Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Phone: 717.728.3224

Certification, Application or Technical Questions - Please submit a Help Desk Ticket.