Meeting of the Board of Regents | April 2009
THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Higher Education Committee
Proposed Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to the Processing of and Requirements for Teachers’ Certificates
April 14, 2009
Issue for Discussion
Should the Board of Regents amend sections 80-1.2, 80-1.6, 80-1.8 and 80-5.9 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education relating to the requirements for, and processing of, teaching certificates?
Reason(s) for Consideration
Review of Policy.
The proposed amendment will come before the Higher Education Committee and the EMSC Committee for discussion at the April 2009 Regents meeting. The proposed amendment will be submitted for action at the June 2009 Regents meeting.
A Notice of Proposed Rule Making concerning the proposed amendment will be published in the State Register on April 8, 2009.
The Department’s Office of Teaching Initiatives’ (OTI) core mission is to certify teachers for employment in the State's public schools. At the January meeting, staff reviewed the need to alter work processes in light of the reduction in available resources in order to continue to provide core teacher certification services to school districts and applicants seeking a certificate in teaching.
Annually, the Department issues approximately 100,000 certificates. This number includes new teachers applying for their first credential, applicants from other states interested in relocating to New York, and currently employed teachers qualifying for advanced-level or additional certificates, as well as applicants for a variety of other credentials required for public school service.
The Department’s certification functions are financially supported solely by the fees collected for certificates. These fees were last adjusted 17 years ago, in 1992. Without increasing the application fees, the Department is forced to explore other options to preserve sufficient funding while continuing to improve the efficiency of the certification functions.
Major Process Improvements Currently In Operation
Over the past few years, the Department has been engaged in a continual process of improving its work processes and staffing patterns to provide the best customer service as expeditiously as possible for certification evaluation and processing and fingerprint clearance for employment. With the implementation of the TEACH system, online applications now account for 96 percent of all applications. Payment by credit card, school district verification of certification, and one-day certificate issuance for college-recommended applications are among the features of the TEACH system that have enabled us to provide more efficient and faster service.
Certification and fingerprint clearance are cyclical activities, with yearly peaks in activity. Previously, we relied on overtime (equivalent of 3 clerical full-time employees and 2 evaluator full-time employees) and temporary staff (equivalent of 8 clerical full-time employees and a 1.25 evaluator full-time employee) during peak times in an effort to keep cycle time as low as possible. However, because we are no longer able to hire temporary help or pay overtime to our staff, and because we have lost 20 percent of our application processing staff, we are looking at additional ways to realize efficiencies in staff use and also to save money to support services to teachers and qualified applicants. While the one-day cycle time accomplished for college recommended applications has been maintained, previous gains made in cycle time for the labor intensive individual transcript evaluation applications have eroded. Cycle times that were 8 weeks in the spring of 2008 have now grown to 15 weeks for individual transcript evaluation and 20 weeks for certificate progression (moving from Provisional to Permanent or Initial to Professional). On an exception basis, at the request of a school district, the Department does provide an expedited review for qualified applicants to whom a school district has offered employment. These expedited reviews are completed within one week.
The Department has converted to an online fingerprint application and clearance system through TEACH for both applicants for certificates and applicants for employment in public schools. The recent addition of digital fingerprinting technology (LIVESCAN) has resulted in improved processing times (24 to 48 hours) due to the electronic transfer of information for those districts with access to the LIVESCAN system. These enhancements have resulted in similar efficiencies and improvements in customer service. However, efficiencies have not been fully realized due to our inability to fill vacant positions, the lack of universal availability of LIVESCAN (school districts/BOCES must purchase the equipment) and the expansion of the fingerprinting system to non-public schools. As more customers migrate to a LIVESCAN system for the submission of digital fingerprints, it is anticipated that processing times on average will become closer to the 24-48 hour cycle time that is possible under LIVESCAN.
Proposals for Additional Improvements
In order to stem the rising cycle times and expenses relating to transcript evaluation of applications and ensure that school districts have an adequate pool of qualified and certified teachers to employ, OTI must focus on its core functions and reduce time and resources expended on non-core functions. The proposed amendments to the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education are presented for consideration and approval by the Board of Regents.
1. Number of Individual Evaluations per Application
Currently, applicants seeking certification through individual transcript evaluation receive a first evaluation and, if they are not eligible for the certificate, they receive notice of the requirements they have not satisfied. Then, when they submit additional documentation, their application is individually evaluated a second time. Sometimes, all of the remaining requirements have been met by the time of the second review and a certificate is issued. However, in too many cases, applicants still have not met all the requirements after the second evaluation. Their applications remain open-ended and they receive repeated evaluations until they meet all requirements. Based upon current application patterns, we estimate that annually we conduct over 4,000 evaluations on applications requiring more than two evaluations (third, fourth, fifth, etc.). This consumes a great deal of staff time, takes time away from applicants who are ready for certification, and contributes to longer cycle times.
We propose that each application and fee remain active for a three year period and that applicants be entitled to two individual evaluations within that three year period. If, upon the second evaluation, all requirements are not met and the applicant still does not qualify for the certificate, individuals will be required to submit a new application and fee in order to have their credentials reviewed again. Applicants will be able to submit as many applications and fees as they wish until they achieve certification. Each application and fee will entitle the applicant to two evaluations within the three year period that application is active. Rather than perpetuate the pattern of repeated attempts, the proposed amendment will increase the number of applicants who wait until all requirements are completed before submitting an application or filing for a second evaluation, thus reducing cycle time and freeing up staff to work on other core functions.
We estimate a savings of one full-time evaluator, which could be applied to reducing our cycle time for new applicants and those who meet the requirements for a certificate. It would also result in approximately $200,000 in additional fees annually (based on an estimate that 50 percent of these applicants would complete the requirements and re-apply within a year). These fees could be used to better serve teachers and qualified applicants.
Accordingly, we propose to amend section 80-1.2 (attached) to say that the length of time a certificate application will remain in active status is three years and that the number of individual evaluations per application and fee is two. Applications that are not complete after the second evaluation may be resubmitted, with another fee, for a subsequent evaluation.
2. Internship Certificates
Internship certificates are issued upon the recommendation of a college or university to graduate students who have completed 50 percent of an approved teacher education program. An internship certificate authorizes a student’s placement in a school district to serve an internship. Under current regulation, no fee is charged for these certificates.
Previously, colleges applied for internship certificates for their students, making it administratively difficult to collect a fee from the students. Today, graduate students file their own applications for the certificate and, therefore, the mechanism exists to collect the fee directly from the applicants. Over the past several years, the number of internship certificates issued has increased. Ten years ago, the Office of Teaching Initiatives issued fewer than 500 internship certificates annually. In 2007-08, we issued more than 3,000. Collecting a $50 fee for each internship certificate issued would yield an additional $150,000 in revenues to be used for current operations without raising the existing application fees.
Accordingly, we propose to amend section 80-5.9 (attached) to institute the same $50 fee for issuance of an internship certificate that is charged for all other college-recommended certificates.
3. Printing of Certificates
We currently print and mail approximately 100,000 certificates annually. A number of these are returned as undeliverable, requiring a change of address on our records, readdressing new envelopes, and mailing them a second time. We propose the elimination of most paper certificates in favor of issuing them electronically and making them available on OTI’s Web site. There is a growing trend among states to move toward electronic certification records. California, Utah, and Maryland have discontinued issuing paper certificates and Georgia is in process of doing so. In an informal survey of states, several others reported that they also are considering or beginning work toward eliminating certificate printing.
We plan to continue the printing of only those certificates that do not expire: Permanent, Professional and Teaching Assistant III certificates. Continuing to print these certificates that do not expire would meet the needs of teachers and school leaders seeking a document to acknowledge their achievement while allowing for savings by discontinuing the printing and mailing of time-limited certificates (which represent the majority of certificates issued.) We estimate an annual cost savings of $30,000 in special paper, envelopes, and mailing costs. There would also be savings in staff time in the Office of Management Services if these mailings were eliminated. We will be exploring future enhancement to TEACH to allow certificate holders to print a record of their certificates if they wish.
The move to electronic certification records would have the added benefit of encouraging school districts to use our web-based information to confirm the certification of potential hires and employed teachers, and would help reduce forgeries. The more extensive use of the OTI Web site for this purpose would also provide an opportunity to keep teachers’ addresses relatively current.
Accordingly, we propose to amend section 80-1.2 (attached) to specify that certificates may be issued in electronic and/or paper format, in order to implement this policy.
4. Time Extensions for Provisional, Initial and Transitional Certificates
As teachers with Provisional or Initial certificates progress toward Permanent or Professional certificates, a certain percentage request, and are granted, time extensions of up to two years to complete all requirements for the higher level certificates. Criteria for the granting of such extensions include maternity leave, inability to find a teaching position, personal hardship, and military leave. The Department receives approximately 8,000 requests for time extensions each year. Currently, the process for reviewing time extension applications includes submission of documentation of the circumstances by the teacher. All but a few of these applications are granted. Reviewing all the documentation submitted is a labor and paper intensive process, causing backlogs in the entering of incoming mail into the TEACH computer system for all certification applications.
All teachers applying for a time extension have met the appropriate certification requirements for the Provisional or Initial certificate and are working on completing requirements for the Permanent or Professional certificate. We intend to temporarily suspend the requirement that an applicant seeking a time extension submit documentation of how he/she meets one of the six criteria established in regulation. Instead, one two-year time extension would be granted upon application and attestation by the teacher that he/she meets the requirements specified on the application. In addition, any certificate holders applying for a time extension would also be required to have passed the appropriate Content Specialty Test(s) (CST) before the extension is granted. In addition, we propose to amend the existing regulation to include Initial certificate holders as eligible for a time extension due to an inability to find a position as a teacher, now available only to Provisional certificate holders. The implementation of this change will allow for the redeployment of an estimated 4 full-time staff members to work on higher priority areas, specifically, individual transcript evaluation and applications for certificate progression.
Accordingly, we propose to amend section 80-1.6 (attached) to allow Initial certificate holders as well as Provisional certificate holders to qualify for a time extension on the basis of having been unable to secure employment as a teacher or having been pursuing a career other than teaching. Also, we have added language to make sure that anyone with an expired Provisional certificate applying for a time extension takes the applicable the New York State Teacher Certification Examination content specialty test(s) in the area of the certificate if they had not done so previously.
5. Reissuance of Initial Certificates
The original intent of certificate reissuance was to provide a mechanism for the holder of an expired Initial certificate who could not find a teaching position to retain certification while obtaining the required experience, with the added requirement that the applicant demonstrate currency in their field. The current regulation was adopted in 2000 but the first Initial certificates, issued in September 2004, do not expire until September 2009. Accordingly, we are just now reaching the point where this provision in regulations will become operational.
In order to qualify for a certificate reissuance, a teacher must:
- Provide evidence that he or she has been unable to secure employment as a classroom teacher, which has resulted in not meeting the experience requirements for the Professional certificate.
- Complete acceptable Professional development, up to a maximum of 75 clock hours, within one year of applying for the reissuance.
- Retake the NYSTCE Liberal Arts and Sciences Test (LAST), Assessment of Teaching Skills – Written (ATS-W) and appropriate Content Specialty Test(s) (CST) within one year prior to application.
Because of the complexity of administering these requirements, it would be costly and labor intensive to implement and would require considerable programming additions to TEACH (for which funding was eliminated). It would further delay processing of all applications, as we would take on another new work process with reduced staffing. Also, the reissuance provision, as currently written, makes it time consuming and expensive for a teacher with an expiring Initial certificate to meet the criteria which we estimate results in a significant decrease in the number of teachers.
Accordingly, we propose to amend section 80-1.8 (attached) to require an applicant seeking a reissuance of his/her certificate to re-take and pass the applicable Content Specialty Test(s) if the certificate has been expired for more than two years. It eliminates the requirement that the teacher submit evidence of being unable to secure a teaching position, in recognition of the fact that the candidate may have been pursuing a career other than teaching. It also simplifies the calculation of Professional development hours required, the requirement a uniform 75 hours.
Timetable for Implementation
If adopted at the June 2009 meeting, the amendment would take effect on July 16, 2009.
AMENDMENT TO THE REGULATIONS OF THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION
Pursuant to sections 207, 210, 212, 305, 3001, 3004 and 3006 of the Education Law.
1. Section 80-1.2 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education is amended, effective July 16, 2009, as follows:
Section 80-1.2 [Certificates] Applications and certificates, dates of issuance.
(a) [Certificates issued pursuant to the provisions of this Part shall date from the first day of either February or September in the year of issuance.] Applications.
(1) All applications submitted to the commissioner on or after September 1, 2009 for certificates issued pursuant to the provisions of this Part shall remain in active status for three years from the date of receipt of such application. If the candidate fails to complete all requirements for such certification within three years from the date of receipt of such application, the application shall be deemed denied by the commissioner. If the candidate subsequently wishes to re-apply for such certification, the candidate shall submit to the commissioner a new application with the required documentation and the appropriate fee prescribed under Section 3006 of the Education Law.
(2) All applications submitted to the commissioner after September 1, 2009 for
certificates in the classroom teaching service, school leadership or pupil personnel through individual evaluation or reciprocity under this Part shall include a transcript from each institution of higher education that the candidate attended. Upon receipt of such application, the commissioner shall provide a written or electronic evaluation to the candidate of his/her credentials and shall notify the candidate, in writing or electronically, if there are any remaining deficiencies in the candidate’s application for certification through individual evaluation or reciprocity. If the candidate fails to satisfy any remaining deficiencies in his/her application within three years from the date of receipt of such application, the application shall be deemed denied by the commissioner. A candidate’s application shall also be denied by the commissioner if the candidate submits additional documentation to correct any deficiencies in his/her application after the first evaluation and a second evaluation reveals that the application together with the additional documentation continues to be deficient and fails to meet the requirements for certification, as prescribed in this Part. If the candidate subsequently wishes to re-apply for such certification, the candidate shall submit to the commissioner a new application with any required documentation to satisfy any remaining deficiencies in such application and the appropriate fee as prescribed under Section 3006 of the Education Law.
(b) Certificates, dates of issuance.
(1) Upon application, the commissioner shall issue certificates in the forms and titles for which the candidate qualifies. Such certificates may be issued in electronic and/or paper format.
(2) Certificates issued pursuant to the provisions of this Part shall date from the first day of either February or September in the year of issuance.
[(c)] (3) The commissioner shall not issue provisional certificates valid for the classroom teaching service with an effective date that begins after February 1, 2004, unless otherwise specifically prescribed in this Part. The commissioner may extend the effective date of a provisional certificate after February 1, 2004, pursuant to the requirements of section 80-1.6 of this Subpart.
[(d)] (4) The commissioner shall issue initial and professional teachers' certificates valid for the classroom teaching service beginning with an effective date of September 1, 2004, except that the commissioner may continue to issue provisional and permanent teachers' certificates valid for classroom teaching service as specifically prescribed in this Part.
[(e)](5) The commissioner shall not issue temporary licenses for employment as teaching assistants with an effective date that begins after February 1, 2004.
[(f)] (6) The commissioner shall issue level I teaching assistant certificates, level II teaching assistant certificates, and level III teaching assistant certificates, and pre-professional teaching assistant certificates beginning with an effective date of September 1, 2004.
2. Section 80-1.6 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education is amended, effective July 16, 2009, as follows:
(a) Subject to the limitation provided in subdivision (d) of this section, the time validity of an expired provisional, initial or transitional certificate may be extended for a period not to exceed two years from the expiration date of such certificate, except as provided in subdivisions (b) and (c) of this section, upon application by the holder of a teaching certificate:
(2) . . .
(6) [for the holder of a provisional certificate only, ] for a candidate who has been unable to secure employment as a teacher or who has been pursuing a career other than teaching.
(b) . . .
(c) . . .
(d) The commissioner will only extend the time validity of an expired provisional certificate under this section if the holder of such provisional certificate submits evidence of having achieved a satisfactory level of performance on the New York State Teacher Certification Examination content specialty test(s) in the area of the certificate, when a content specialty test(s) is required.
3. Section 80-1.8 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education is amended, effective July 16, 2009, as follows:
Section 80-1.8 Reissuance of an initial certificate.
(a) The holder of an initial certificate whose certificate has expired shall be reissued an initial certificate on one occasion only, for a period of [three] five years from the date of reissuance, provided that the candidate has met the requirements in subdivision (b) of this section. The time validity of such reissued initial certificate shall not be extended, pursuant to section 80-1.6 of this Subpart.
[(1) The candidate has substantiated by adequate documentary evidence submitted to the department that he or she has been unable to secure employment as a classroom teacher, which has resulted in the candidate not meeting the requirements for the professional certificate.]
[(2)] (1) The candidate shall successfully complete 75 clock hours of acceptable professional development [at a rate of one and one-half clock hours per month, computed for each month beginning on the date of the issuance of the original initial certificate or the issuance of an extension thereof, and ending on the date the candidate submits his or her application to the department for the reissued initial certificate, up to a maximum of 75 clock hours. The professional development shall be completed during such computation period. In the case of a candidate required to complete 75 clock hours of professional development, 45 of such clock hours shall be completed] within one year [prior to the candidate's] of applying to the department for the reissued initial certificate. The definition of acceptable professional development and the measurement of professional development study shall be that prescribed in section 80-3.6 of this Part.
[(3)] (2) The candidate shall submit evidence of having achieved a satisfactory level of performance on the New York State Teacher Certification Examination [liberal arts and sciences test, written assessment of teaching skills and] content specialty test(s) in the area [of] required for the certificate sought or the New York State assessment for school building leadership required for a certificate as a school building leader, which shall be taken within one year [prior to] of the candidate's applying to the department for the reissuance of the initial certificate.
4. Section 80-5.9 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education is amended, effective July 16, 2009, as follows:
Section 80-5.9 Internship certificate.
(a) A student in a registered or approved graduate program of teacher education which includes an internship experience(s) and who has completed at least one-half of the semester hour requirement for the program may, at the request of the institution, be issued an internship certificate [without fee] for a fee of $50.