Unrestricted Emergency Teaching Certificate Rule (due to exam center closures and health emergency)
Q1: Because of the AEPA/NES testing center closures, Spring 2020 Educator Preparation Program (EPP) completers are not currently able to take exams required for teacher certification. How will this be addressed? A: Rule language has been adopted to allow program completers who are lacking exam requirement(s) to qualify for an "unrestricted" Emergency Teaching Certificate (ETC). This certificate will be valid for one year and allow districts/schools to offer a contract while providing time for testing centers to re-open and educators to meet exam requirement(s).
Q2: Would an applicant who completed a program in special education be eligible for an unrestricted ETC in the special education area? A: The rule allows for the issuance of an unrestricted ETC in the area of special education to individuals who have completed a special education program. However, ETCs that are restricted to a district or charter school, and that only require a request from the superintendent and a bachelor’s degree, will not be issued in the area of special education.
Q3: It is our understanding that individuals hired with an Emergency Teaching Certificate are not able to use teaching experience under this certificate towards retirement and, in some districts, these new teachers may not qualify for full benefits. Do you know if this information is correct? A: This may be a local control/employer issue. Many districts we reached out to indicated they include emergency certified teachers, and even long-term substitutes, in the ASRS system as they qualify. Emergency certified teachers are typically offered contracts, teaching salaries, and benefits. All employees are eligible for ASRS contributions as long as they are half-time or greater (20 hours per week or more).
Q4: Why can't we just add a one-year deficiency to the Standard teaching certificate in light of the testing centers being closed because of COVID-19? A: Arizona Statute does not allow for a one-year deficiency on a Standard teaching certificate. Many states have passed rule/legislation to certify Spring 2020 program completers who are not able to meet exam requirements because of the testing site closures on an emergency or temporary credential. We considered multiple options and determined that providing for an "unrestricted" emergency teaching certificate would be an appropriate solution to allow time for testing centers to re-open and educators to meet exam requirements.
Q5: Emergency Teaching Certificate holders are not considered appropriately certified. Will this have any impact on hiring, teaching assignments, and reporting? A: Title I-A requires LEAs to send a four-week letter to parents of students who are not appropriately certified. The "Unrestricted" Emergency Teaching Certificate will reflect that the holder has completed an EPP but has not met the exam requirements due to the public health emergency. Therefore, the holder of an “unrestricted” ETC is considered appropriately certified provided the educator is assigned a teaching position in the area identified on the certificate. The LEA will not be required to send a four-week letter. However, LEAs will be required to send the four-week letter if the teacher is certified under an ETC which is restricted to the school district or charter school.
Student Teaching Intern Exam Deferral
Q6: The Student Teaching Intern certificate requires teacher candidates to pass both the Professional Knowledge and Subject Knowledge exams in addition to other requirements. Do you have any recommendations yet regarding the licensure exam requirement for this certificate and how to proceed with fall 2020 placements for teacher candidates who secure positions? A: The Board has approved a one-year deferral of the professional and subject knowledge exam requirements for the Student Teaching Intern certificate because of the testing center closures.
Q7: Our program requires students to pass the subject knowledge exam prior to student teaching. How do you recommend proceeding with this requirement for Fall 2020 student teaching placements if teacher candidates are unable to take the exam? A: The exams are not required by Board rule or State law prior to student teaching. We believe EPPs have the flexibility as a program to deviate from your EPP plan and allow these placements. This requirement and (temporary) change to your program can be summarized in your upcoming biennial report.
Interim Administrative Certificate Rule (due to exam center closures and health emergency)
Q8: Because of the AEPA/NES testing center closures, individuals who otherwise qualify for an Administrative certificate will not be able to meet exam requirements. How will this issue be addressed? A: Rule language has been adopted that will allow individuals who have completed all graduate degree, coursework and educator experience requirements to qualify for a one-year Interim Administrative certificate while the testing centers are closed because of the public health emergency. An Interim Administrative certificate issued under this provision would not be eligible to be renewed or extended; however, it would provide time for candidates to meet the exam requirements.
Career and Technical Education Allowable Deficiency Extension
Q9: Will teachers on a Career and Technical Education (CTE) certificate with allowable deficiencies be able to extend the allowable deficiency timeframe? A: At this time, we have not seen a disruption in the ability of CTE teachers to complete coursework or training requirements within the three-year allowable deficiency timeframe. However, the Board has approved a one-year extension on the CTE-PK (NES Assessment of Professional Knowledge – Secondary exam) deficiency because of the testing center closures.
Q10: Subject Matter Expert (SME) certificate holders may need to meet the Professional Knowledge exam requirement to remove that deficiency prior to being non-disciplinary suspended. Will there be similar language considered for this requirement? A: State Statute requires the Professional Knowledge exam requirement be met within two years of issuance of the SME certificate; therefore, a proposal to extend the Professional Knowledge exam deficiency timeframe would contradict statute. Districts and charter schools have the option of requesting an Emergency Teaching Certificate for a SME certified teacher who has a bachelor’s degree to provide additional time for the holder to meet the Professional Knowledge exam deficiency requirement.
Other COVID-19 Certification Questions
Q11: What do educators do that want to add approved areas or endorsements that need exams to help them qualify? A: We recommend, at this time, waiting for the testing centers to re-open (as of 5/11/20 Pearson testing centers are now open). LEAs can choose to put educators into any teaching position. However, if the educator is not appropriately certified, the four-week letter will need to be sent home to parents. The four-week letter template may be modified to provide a justification.
Q12: How will educators renew and meet the renewal requirements during this time? A: There has not been a disruption to certificate renewal processing. Educators may apply for renewal via regular mail or online. LEAs are still able to verify clock hours and educators are still able to submit certificates documenting professional development hours with the online renewal application and via regular mail. At this time, we do not believe that there has been a significant impact on coursework or training opportunities to meet the 15 clock hour per year of the certificate being renewed requirement.