These questions and answers are based on current regulations 22 PA Code Chapter 49, Certification of Professional Personnel of September 1999.
1. Is a PDE certificate required in Pennsylvania?
Yes, any professional serving in the public schools must hold an appropriate valid Pennsylvania certificate.
2. What type/area certificate is required?
Types of certificates are:
Instructional, Intern, Vocational, Educational Specialist, Supervisory, Administrative and Letters of Eligibility. Please refer to Types of Certificates
individuals must maintain an active certificate as mandated by Act 48 of 1999 (continuing professional education) to be employed in a PA public school system.
3. How do I qualify for a certificate?
Candidates who have completed state approved certification programs at out-of-state colleges may have their credentials reviewed directly by the Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality by submitting the application packet. If the evaluation by the Bureau reveals minor deficiencies in the candidate’s preparation program, the Bureau will prescribe the additional requirements. If a major deficiency is found, applicants will be advised to contact a college with an approved certification program.
A graduate of an out-of-state college may be eligible for certification in Pennsylvania provided that:
The recommending college has a state-approved preparation/certification program in the area of certification requested;
The applicant has received a recommendation from the dean or department of education chairperson of the preparing college (provision is made for this recommendation on the application form), or possesses a teaching certificate comparable to the Pennsylvania Level I certificate;
The preparation program completed by the applicant is comparable to approved programs offered by Pennsylvania colleges. Certificates are issued only for major areas of study;
The applicant applying for his/her Pennsylvania Certificate obtains a satisfactory score on the ACTFL, Praxis tests required by Pennsylvania and,
Additional information may be required if the candidate has not: 1) attained a teaching certificate in the state; 2) taught 3 out of the last 7 years on a state certificate; 3) completed a state approved program and student teaching in a state participating in the Interstate Agreement in the United States. In these instances, a candidate may be required to have a GPA of 3.0 and possibly 6 credits in English and 6 credits in Math.
4. Does Pennsylvania have an Interstate Certification Agreement and does it cover all areas of certification?
Pennsylvania has signed an Interstate Agreement with other states/jurisdictions based upon the mutually agreed-upon conditions of that contract . It should be noted, however, that in all cases, candidates for Pennsylvania certification must complete the ACTFL/Praxis tests required by Pennsylvania. In order for this Bureau to evaluate an application using the Interstate Agreement, the candidate must provide verification that he/she has:
Been awarded a baccalaureate degree
Completed a state-approved teacher education program, including a supervised student teaching experience, leading to a comparable or broader certificate in the member state
Received the recommendation from the certification officer at the college or university on an application form designated by this Bureau
Complied with all ancillary requirements, including Pennsylvania required tests and college minimum grade-point average in effect at the time of application
Met all Pennsylvania requirements related to citizenship as well as moral, ethical and physical/mental fitness
Candidates who possess a valid and comparable (in subject and grade level scope) certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards(Word)
will be issued a Professional Instructional II certificate.
The applicant will not be asked to complete any additional requirements for that certificate, including Praxis Series tests.
The following sections of the Interstate Agreement have not been signed by Pennsylvania:
· Alternative preparation or alternative certification
· Certification and experience without having completed an approved program
· Vocational, educational specialist, administrator or supervisor
Further information on the Interstate Agreement can be found at NASDTEC
The Interstate Agreement pertains to instructional areas only
. All other certifications (education specialist, supervisory, administrative, etc.) must meet all requirements set in the Program Specific Guidelines
5. Can my certificate be "transferred" to Pennsylvania under the Interstate Agreement?
Out of state certificates are never "transferred" into Pennsylvania. A complete application must be submitted to go through the evaluation process. A determination will be made whether an applicant meets Pennsylvania's certification requirements at the time of evaluation.
6. What tests do I need to obtain a Pennsylvania certificate?
Applicants requesting certification must complete the appropriate Pennsylvania testing requirements.
Please refer to Testing Requirements in Pennsylvania
, which indicates the appropriate tests and qualifying scores for ACTFL and Praxis.
NOTE: If you can verify three years of teaching experience in the content area applied for on a fully issued certificate within the past seven years, you may need only the appropriate content area test.
IMPORTANT: Applicants must meet the qualifying scores in effect at the time of application, 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 date your application was received in the Bureau, unless you have taught 3 out of the last 7 years on a comparable out-of-state certificate. Applicants evaluated under the 3 out of 7 rule must have taken and received a qualifying score on the appropriate content test within a 5-year period prior to the date of application (only candidates seeking instructional areas of certification are eligible for evaluation under the 3 out of 7 rule). Please refer to CSPG No. 21 - Testing for further information. Please be certain to include your social security number on your tests and be sure to designate the Pennsylvania Department of Education as a score recipient when registering for the tests. To be official, test scores must be received by this office directly or from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) or in an ETS-sealed unopened envelope, or from ACTFL Language Testing Office.
7. Can the test I took for another state be substituted for the required the ACTFL/Praxis exams?
All applicants must take the exact tests required by Pennsylvania. No substitutions or waivers are acceptable.
8. Can I be exempt from taking the Praxis exams?
9. If I am from a foreign country may I be eligible for public school teacher certification in Pennsylvania?
Yes, a person educated in a foreign country may be eligible for public school teacher certification in Pennsylvania provided the applicant meets all the following conditions:
- Holds a degree in higher education that is the equivalent of a baccalaureate degree earned in the United States;
- Has completed a teacher preparation program that meets Pennsylvania standards;
- Has obtained satisfactory scores on the ACTFL/Praxis tests required by Pennsylvania.
- Has demonstrated proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in the English language by obtaining satisfactory scores on the English Proficiency test (Applicants whose native language is not English or does not hold a degree from the United States must take this test). See English Proficiency test information
- Is a citizen of the United States or holds a resident alien (green card) visa;
- Has filed a Declaration of Intent to become a citizen, unless the applicant is seeking certification to teach a foreign language and,
- meets all other requirements provided by law.
10. May I have my college send my transcripts directly to PDE?
In order to avoid misrouting of transcripts within PDE, transcripts should never be sent directly from the college or university. All official college sealed transcripts should be included or mailed with the application packet that is submitted for certification.
11. Must I include my background clearances with my application for certification?
No, background clearances must be completed and submitted to a school district before hire.
12. How do I apply for more then one certificate area?
A separate PDE 338G form and fee must be submitted for each area of certification requested.
13. How can I check the status of my application once it has been submitted to PDE?
An applicant can check the status of an application, please refer to Teacher Certification System
. Once applications are received and keyed into the system (delays may be anticipated during high volume seasons), the progress of the application can be viewed and tracked by the applicant.
14. May I be issued a temporary certificate while my application is being reviewed?
In cases where the candidate has met all requirements for certification, including tests and GPA, but does not have the requisite 6 credits of math and 6 credits of English, Pennsylvania may issue a Temporary Teaching Permit, valid for one calendar year.
15. What do the terms “Level I” and “Level II” mean?
Pennsylvania currently has two levels of certification. The initial or provisional 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 permanent certificate. If not converted, the Level I lapses. You may not be employed in a Pennsylvania public school with a lapsed certificate.
16. When will my Level I certificate expire?
Pennsylvania Level I (provisional) certificates are valid for actual years of professional service as an educator, not calendar years. For additional information refer to CSPG 7
17. How long is my certificate valid?
An Instructional I or Educational Specialist I is valid for a maximum of 6 service years in Pennsylvania. If issued in accordance with 1987 regulations, an Administrative I or Supervisory I is valid for a maximum of 3 service years in Pennsylvania. Issued after January 1, 2008, an Administrative I certificate is valid for 5 years of employment as a principal or principal assistance during which completion of an induction program addressing 3 core leadership standards must be completed. If not converted before the end of the applicable service period, the certificate becomes invalid. An emergency permit will not be issued to a person with an invalid certificate.
Note: Administrative I is in the process of being updated
18. How do I add a subject area to my existing/current certificate?
To add an additional area to a valid Pennsylvania Professional Certificate, you must complete an approved education program in that subject at a college or university and pass the PRAXIS specialty area test. Contact the education department at one of the approved colleges/universities for additional information on certification programs.
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
19. 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, refer to EDNA
to search for the administrator's contact information. The names and addresses of these officers are also available in most college placement office libraries.
20. How do I contact the Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality?
You may contact us by mail at the following address:
Pennsylvania Department of Education
Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality
333 Market Street, 3rd Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333