Regents Act to Amend State’s Teacher Certification Requirements

The Board of Regents took steps on March 13 to improve the process to obtain an initial teaching certificate in New York. The changes are based on the recommendations of a panel of education experts and public input, and maintain the state’s rigorous standards to ensure that candidates for certification are well-prepared to teach.

“The changes we advanced strike the right balance for both teachers and students,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “Candidates for certification will still be required to demonstrate their teaching skills and knowledge before entering the classroom. At the same time, we are eliminating costly and unnecessary testing requirements that create unfair obstacles to certification for many applicants.”

“The Regents and I continue to seek out expert advice from educators, parents and the public as we make important policy decisions,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said. “In this case, the experts and practitioners have suggested changes to our certification requirements that will help support teacher candidates and ensure students are taught by high-quality teachers while helping to address the national teacher shortage at the same time. New York’s teaching certification requirements remain some of the most rigorous in the country, requiring the vast majority of teaching candidates to pass three assessments before earning certification.”

“Dr. Collins and I are honored to have participated in the EdTPA committee,” said Regent Kathleen M. Cashin. “The committee of deans and professors was extraordinary and they coupled rigor with fairness.”

Public Input & Task Force Recommendations Inform Changes

New and revised teacher certification exams were released to the field in May 2014. One of those new exams, the edTPA, is a subject-specific, multi-measure performance assessment. At that time, the Board of Regents also established an edTPA Task Force to explore possible improvements to the edTPA going forward. The Task Force is comprised of representatives from CUNY, SUNY, the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, the Teacher Education Advisory Group, the United University Professions, the Professional Staff Congress and New York State Education Department staff.

Last year the edTPA Task Force reconvened and began its review of the edTPA and other teacher certification exams. At the same time, Regents Kathleen Cashin and Dr. Catherine Collins held a series of public forums around the state, attended by Board of Regents members, Commissioner Elia and SED staff, to gather input from the public. The feedback provided at these forums helped inform the work of the edTPA Task Force, which presented its recommendations to the Board of Regents at the Board’s January 2017 meeting. You can view those recommendations here:]

Changes to Assessing Literacy in Teacher Candidates

The Task Force expressed a number of concerns with the Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST), an exam currently required for certification. Concerns included the cost of the exam, the ongoing need for the exam in light of the other required exams and the total number of exams required for certification. Because of these concerns, the Task Force recommended eliminating the ALST.

The Board of Regents acted on that recommendation to adopt regulations to eliminate the requirement that teacher candidates take and pass the ALST to obtain an initial teaching certificate. In its place, the Department will work with the state’s testing vendor to review the existing Educating All Students (EAS) exam to determine if the EAS should also assess candidates’ literacy skills. The ALST amendment, adopted by emergency action, becomes effective on March 14, and it is anticipated that the amendment will be adopted as a permanent rule at the July 2017 Regents meeting, with an effective date of August 2.

Proposed Changes to the edTPA

The Task Force also made a number of recommendations with regard to the edTPA assessment. Most significantly, the Task Force recommended that the Department establish a standard setting panel to determine if the passing score for the edTPA should be reset and gradually phased-in over several years. The Department is currently working with the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE) and the edTPA test vendor to establish a timeline for implementation and to convene a standard setting committee. The Department’s goal is to implement changes in fall 2017, after receiving recommendations from the standard setting panel.

As part of its January 2017 recommendation, the Task Force asked the Department to implement a multiple measures review process in cases where there is compelling evidence that a candidate is ready to teach but did not achieve a passing score on the edTPA. To request such a multiple measures review, the candidate would need to score within one standard deviation of the passing score as established by the standard setting committee, and would need to demonstrate that he or she has the knowledge, skills and abilities to become a teacher. A panel consisting of two P-12 teachers, two principals, two superintendents, two higher education faculty and one SED staff member would review any waiver applications submitted to the Department on a periodic basis, as needed.

The Board of Regents today approved advancing proposed regulations to implement these changes. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be published in the State Register on March 29. Specifically, the proposed regulations will provide access to a multiple-measures review process for candidates who take and are not successful on the edTPA (after a new passing score has been established and implemented), but who:

  • fall within one standard deviation below the new passing score;
  • have a minimum GPA of 3.0; and
  • pass all other exams required for the teaching certificate they seek.

Recommendations from faculty and cooperating teachers, as well as evidence of extenuating circumstances, will be considered by the panel in addition to evidence of having met these requirements. Until a new edTPA passing score is established and the multiple measures review process is implemented, the edTPA safety net will remain in effect.

It is anticipated that the proposed amendment to edTPA will be adopted by the Board of Regents at its July 2017 meeting.  If adopted at the July 2017 meeting, the proposed amendment will become effective on August 2, 2017.