NOTE: The PA State Board of Education passed Chapter 49.1 and 49.2 regulations that significantly reconfigure the certification requirements for instructional and specialist certification programs.   


Effective 2013:  

Early Child hood (N-3) will be Early Education (Pre-K through Grade 4); Elementary Education will be Elementary/Middle Level (Grades 4-8); and Special Education (N-12)  will be split into Early /Middle (Pre-K through Grade 8) and Secondary (Grades 7-12).   



Special Education is no longer a content area of instruction under the new regulations, therefore all students seeking special education certification as an initial certification must also identify either PreK-4, Elementary/Middle Level Grades 4-8 or Secondary 7-12 content areas to complete a dual-certification program. 


In addition, each content area program, including secondary education certification, is now required to include 9 credits/270 hours of special education and 3 credits/90 hours of teaching linguistically different children.   


This new requirement begins for all certification programs starting January 1, 2011. 


Current students in elementary (K-6) , early childhood (N-3) or special education (N-12) certification programs who do not complete their requirements by 2013 (either May or August) will be required to have a re-evaluation of their program to determine the additional courses necessary to obtain certification under one of the new certification programs.  


If you have any questions about this, please talk to your advisor or Dr. Chiaradonna, Acting Chair of the Division of Teacher Education and Leadership.  


Early Childhood Education (N-3 and PreK-4); Elementary & Elementary/Middle Education (K-6; 4-8); Reading (K-12); Secondary Education (7-12); Special Education (N-12; PK8 and 7-12) Certifications 

All graduate students in the teacher certification programs must cognitively, physically and socially demonstrate  specific competencies as part of the admissions process through the completion of approved coursework and fieldwork experiences, and when exiting the program. Evidence of cognitive abilities includes a GPA of 3.0 and successful completion of all courses and field experiences.  Evidence of physical capabilities is the ability to fully maintain a safe and supportive learning environment for children as demonstrated through field experiences in specific courses and student teaching. Evidence of social capabilities is the ability to teach with poise, confidence and control in a classroom environment, as well as to develop and maintain professional relationships as demonstrated in coursework and student-teaching experiences.   


Each certification program identifies specific assessment procedures so that students know what is expected of them and how the competencies will be assessed. The early childhood, elementary, secondary or special education cooperating teacher evaluates the teacher candidate using both the performance standards and the exit competencies. Candidates also participate in the assessment by completing a comprehensive portfolio that contains competency materials prescribed by the specific program within the department. These materials serve to document the acquisition of competencies.  


The reading program evaluates the candidates at the end of practicum experience. These assessment practices are ongoing and may change as a result of an evaluation of the program. 


The competencies for exiting initial certification programs reflect the instructional competencies required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PA Ch. 354.33) and the INTASC standards. All competencies required are described below. These competencies are due to change beginning in the 2013 academic year as the Division of Teacher Education and Leadership prepares to become accredited by the National Council on Accreditation of Teacher Education.     


  • The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline the teacher teaches and can create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for all students. 
  • The teacher understands how all children learn and develop and can provide learning opportunities that support their intellectual, social, career and personal development. 
  • The teacher understands how students differ in their abilities and approaches to learning and creates opportunities that foster achievement of diverse learners in the inclusive classroom. 
  • The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies, including interdisciplinary learning experiences, to encourage students’ development of critical thinking, problem-solving and performance skills. 
  • The teacher cognitively, physically and socially demonstrates the ability to provide for the safety and well being of all students. The teacher will utilize individual and group behavior strategies that create a learning environment supporting positive social interaction, active engagement in learning and self-discipline. 
  • The teacher uses knowledge of effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication techniques, supported by appropriate technology to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom. 
  • The teacher plans instruction based on knowledge of subject matter, students, the community and curriculum goals. 
  • The teacher understands and uses formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuous intellectual, social and physical development of the learner. 
  • The teacher thinks systematically about practice, learns from experience, seeks the advice of others, draws upon educational research and scholarship and actively seeks out opportunities to grow professionally. 
  • The teacher contributes to school effectiveness by collaborating with other professionals and parents by using community resources and by working as an advocate to improve opportunities for student learning. 


Exit Criteria  

  • Completion of all program coursework, field experiences and/or required student teaching in the certification programs 
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher 
  • Successful completion of instructional exit competencies determined by the specific program requirements 
  • Passing of all appropriate Praxis Series exams required by PDE