Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee



Johanna Duncan-Poitier


P-16 Implementation: Addressing the Shortages of Qualified Teachers – the TEACH Computer System



March 9, 2007



Goal 3









Issue for Discussion


            How can the new teacher certification computer system called TEACH be used to help address the shortage of certified teachers and to implement elements of the Regents P-16 Action Plan?


Reason for Consideration


            Review of Policy.


Proposed Handling


            At the March Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee meeting, the Regents will view a demonstration of the new Web-based certification system, TEACH, that highlights the capabilities of this system and how it contributes to reducing shortages of qualified teachers. The Regents guidance will be sought on identifying potential enhancements to this system to pursue and further support the P-16 Action Plan.


Procedural History




Background Information


            The Regents, through the P-16 Action Plan, have called for strengthening instruction from a systems perspective, focusing on teacher quality, an equitable distribution of highly qualified teachers, professional development, teacher retention, and integration of technology.


The TEACH system is able to expedite the movement of qualified graduates of teacher preparation programs into the pool of certified teachers eligible for employment. Rather than taking weeks or months from filing a completed application, more teacher preparation program graduates will be issued their certificates on the next business day after a completed application is filed, if testing requirements and fingerprint background checks have been met and their preparing colleges have recommended them for certification.


By certifying these new teachers more promptly, the pool of qualified teachers is increased for those school districts and BOCES that are hiring. In the 11 months TEACH has been operational, the Department has issued over 24,500 first-level certificates through the college program route. This creates the potential to issue over three quarters of first-level certificates to new teachers in a one-day turnaround.  




TEACH users include certification applicants, colleges and universities with teacher education programs, employing school districts and BOCES, Office of Teaching Initiatives certification specialists, Department fingerprint and background investigations staff, BOCES Regional Certification Officers, and potentially, the general public, including parents.

Applicants for certification can:

·          Apply online for certification and fingerprint clearance

·          Pay online by credit card

·          Check the status of their applications, documents, test results received and fingerprint clearances

·          Apply for duplicate certificates

·          Update personal profiles (i.e., addresses, request name changes)

·          View their certification record anytime

·          Update professional development records

Public schools and BOCES can:

·          View any employee or prospective employee’s certification, school or fingerprint history

·          Obtain application status updates of prospective or current employees

·          Submit fingerprint clearance requests

·          Confirm required teaching experiences of employees in fulfillment of certification requirements

·          Enter approved professional development activities necessary for teachers and school leaders with Professional certificates to maintain their certification

New York State colleges/universities can:

·          View a candidate’s certification record

·          Enter college recommendations for candidates directly to the Office of Teaching online

·          Obtain updated certification status information for program completers recommended by the institution, both undergraduate and graduate programs

TEACH is linked to the Department’s Inventory of Registered Programs (IRP), so applicants can ascertain with a few key strokes if the program they are considering is an approved New York State teacher preparation program.

            Consistent with the Regents certification standards effective February 2, 2004, maintaining the advanced level classroom teaching certificate, the Professional certificate, requires the completion of 175 hours of professional development every five years throughout the career of the teacher. When fully implemented, over 200,000 teachers will be impacted by this requirement. Without TEACH to automate the recording of Professional Development activities, it would have been very labor intensive to implement the 175 hour requirement for teachers. Similarly, Level III Teaching Assistant certificate holders must complete 75 hours every five years to maintain that certificate in good standing.  Completion of these required professional development hours is reported to the TEACH system, either by the employing district or the individual (if the teacher or teaching assistant is not employed by a New York State public school district), where this information becomes part of the certificate holder’s “electronic” file on the TEACH system.

            Department administrators are able to generate reports from TEACH, such as number of certificates issued in various subject areas in any given year, and compliance with requirements such as 175 hours of continuing professional development.  Such reports will allow us to better identify those individuals who earn certificates, which pathways are used, and the number of certificates issued in each subject area.  These data will establish a baseline against which, along with other SED data-gathering sources, we can measure progress in strengthening the essential conduits of effective teachers: teacher preparation, certification design and support of continuing professional growth of the career teacher, thus aligning with the Regents P-16 Action Plan.

Feedback from TEACH users


            Feedback from TEACH users has been overwhelmingly positive.  Examples of comments from college and university users (the largest number of users of the system thus far) include:



Like any new system, there were initial challenges but, overall, TEACH has made the teacher certification application process a more predictable one.  When an application is submitted using TEACH, we pretty much know how soon the certificate will be issued. That’s welcome news to both teacher candidates and teacher preparation programs."






            One school district commented specifically on the value of the TEACH System in dealing with the process for obtaining fingerprint-based criminal history clearances for potential employees by saying:


What’s next for TEACH?  Planned enhancements at this point include: the superintendent’s verification of the mentored experience for all Initial certificate holders; continuing professional development hours for educational leadership certificate holders; development of interface capability to allow for the up-load of continuing professional development information directly from the employing district’s electronic recordkeeping system, and the development of an imaging component to image college transcripts and other application documents.  Additional recommendations from the Regents on possible future directions for TEACH are sought.



            It is recommended that the Department and the Regents continue to review and recommend improvements and enhancements to TEACH as a tool in strengthening instruction through providing extensive information to potential applicants for teacher certification and promptly certifying qualified teachers.   


Timetable for Implementation