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Position 4: Certified Teacher (Preparation Level 4)

Description: The term teacher is freely used to refer to the adult who is responsible for instructing a group of children. In regulation, however, the term is used solely to refer to people who have received NYS Teacher Certification. All teachers in public schools, universal and experimental prekindergarten programs throughout New York State and all early childhood programs in New York City must be certified. In some cases a waiver is provided for those seeking certification. Others who are responsible for a group of children in care and education settings are defined as Head of Group in center-based child-care, school-age child care, or group family child care. (See POSITION 9 for information on Head of Group.)

The following certification levels with the graduating class of 2004 replace New York State Certification levels of elementary and secondary education:

Early Childhood – Birth through Grade 2
Childhood – Grades 1-6
Middle Childhood – Grades 5-9
Adolescence Education – Grades 7-12

Some teacher preparation colleges may offer combinations such as Early Childhood/Childhood (birth through sixth grade), Childhood/Middle Childhood (Grades 1-9), or Middle/Adolescence Education (Grades 5-12).

Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions: Teachers act as facilitators to help students meet NYS learning standards in all subjects such as science, math and English in an effective classroom learning environment. (For information on the State Learning Standards, go to (opens in a new window)). Teaching requires knowledge of the English language, mathematics and science, psychology, history, and geography. Teaching is a social occupation that involves working, and communicating with adults. It also involves skills in working with and communicating effectively with children. These occupations often involve assisting or providing service to others. Important skills include understanding of child development, guiding children’s behaviors, understanding of multiple intelligences, speaking, reading comprehension, active listening, writing, organization, and social perceptiveness. The teacher must have a social, cooperative spirit, appreciation for differences, and must be able to exercise confidentiality.

Employment Settings: A NYS Certified teacher may be employed in:

Public School Settings (see SECTION II, SETTING F) Prekindergarten K–12 (depending on certification)
Private School Settings (see SECTION II, SETTING E)
Head Start (see SECTION II, SETTING C)
Child Care and Education (see SECTION II, SETTING A,B,C,D)
Residential Programs (see SECTION II, SETTING E)
Special Education Programs (see SECTION II, SETTING A,C,D,E,F)

Required Qualifications: Certification is granted through the NYS Department of Education. Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree (four years), or a master’s degree (bachelor’s plus at least 30 credit hours) from a registered, approved higher education program, which leads to Initial Certification. Initial Certification is achieved by:

  • Satisfactory completion of the college program
  • Satisfactory levels of performance on the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations
  • LAST (Liberal Arts and Sciences Test)
  • AST-W (Assessment of Teaching Skills–Written)
  • Child abuse identification and reporting training
  • Completion of SAVE (Safe Schools Against Violence) workshop

All persons holding this position must be cleared through the NYS Central Registry of Child Abuse and fingerprints submitted to required authorities.

Initial Certification is valid for three years from its effective date. Within three years of initial certification, the candidate must obtain a master’s degree for Professional Certification.

Preparation: After February 1, 2004 initial teachers’ certificates will be issued to candidates in:

Early Childhood Education (Birth-Grade 2)
Childhood Education (Grades 1-6)
Dance (All Grades)
Health Education (All Grades)
Music (All Grades)
Physical Education (All Grades)
Theater (All Grades)
Visual Arts (All Grades)
Students with Disabilities (Birth-Grade 2)
Students with Disabilities (Grades 1-6)
Deaf and Hard of Hearing (All Grades)
Blind and Visually Impaired (All Grades)
Speech and Language Disabilities (All Grades)
English to Speakers of other Languages (All Grades)
Literacy (Birth-Grade 6)
Library Media Specialty (All Grades)
Educational Technology Specialist (All Grades)
Family and Consumer Sciences (All Grades)
Technology Education (All Grades)
(Ref NYS Requirements for Teachers’ Certificates & Practice Part 80-3.2)

Every teacher preparation college does not offer all certification levels or specialties. Some colleges only offer teacher preparation courses at the master’s level. The college selects and has been approved for those that they are best prepared to provide coursework for. See the individual college catalogs, websites, or college reference books for specific information. (For information on colleges and universities in New York state offering degrees in early childhood and school-age related topics, see College and University Database.)

Initial certification requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree that includes the following:

General Education in the liberal arts and sciences including:

  • Mathematics
  • Natural Science
  • Social Science
  • American History
  • Western Civilization
  • Other World Civilizations
  • Humanities
  • The Arts
  • Language other than English
  • Basic Communication

Content Core: 30 credits in one of the above liberal arts and sciences.

Pedagogical Core: Courses that provide knowledge and skills in teaching and learning including field experiences and/or practicum. Courses include the topics of:

  • Human development including the impact of culture, personal health, safety and nutrition, safe, nurturing environments and respect for one another
  • Learning processes and motivation, classroom management techniques and strategies
  • Working with students within the full range of disabilities and understanding the collaborations necessary to support their learning and growth towards independence
  • Language acquisition and literacy development including listening, speaking, reading and writing skills
  • Curriculum development, instructional planning
  • Uses of technology for instruction, assistance in teaching and learning, and information retrieval
  • Formal and informal methods of assessing student learning
  • History, philosophy and role of education
  • Means to update knowledge and skills in subjects and pedagogy
  • Means for identifying and reporting suspected child abuse and maltreatment
  • Means for instructing students in preventing abduction, alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse
  • Field experiences, student teaching and practicum

Professional Certificate: Within three years from receiving the Initial Certificate, the teacher must complete a master’s degree (bachelor’s degree plus approximately 30 credits) in a content core that includes at least 12 semester hours linking pedagogy and content in each of the areas of the State Learning Standards in English language arts; mathematics, science and technology; and social studies. Three years of teaching experience in a setting/s acceptable for this purpose is required for Professional Certification. Students who obtain a master’s degree immediately after their bachelor’s must obtain three years of experience prior to obtaining their professional certificate.

Continuing Education: New York State certified teachers have a mandatory requirement to complete 175 clock hours of acceptable professional development within every five years of classroom teaching service.

Alternate Pathways: A person who holds a bachelor’s degree with a major in a liberal arts and a 3.0 grade point average or a positive recommendation from college personnel, may enroll in a 200 clock hour pre-service program to provide knowledge of:

  • Rights and responsibilities of teachers and other professional staff, students, parents, community members and school administrators with regard to education
  • Child development and learning
  • Instructional planning and effective teaching strategies
  • State Learning Standards
  • Teaching children with special needs
  • School organization and classroom management
  • Educational technology
With 20 hours of classroom experience, a candidate may begin teaching while being mentored on a daily basis for at least 180 days, observed by college faculty at least once a month. OR with a bachelor’s degree in a liberal arts major or concentration and 3.0 GPA or college recommendation, when they pass the LAST (Liberal Arts and Sciences Test), a candidate may be granted a transitional certificate for two years. After 360 days of full-time teaching and mentoring and passing the Assessment of Teaching Skills–Writing (ATS-W) test a candidate will be awarded initial certification. (opens in a new window)

The requirement to earn a master’s degree in three years from initial certification is then in effect to attain a professional certificate. See the College and University Database for a listing of college and university databases.

Teach for America is another mechanism for an alternate route to certification. Teach for America is a national program that selects applicants already holding bachelor degrees or higher to teach in the program. Participants are placed as full-time, paid teachers in urban and rural public schools, and attend summer institutes on curriculum planning, effective lesson design, student assessment, classroom management techniques, and literacy development. The alternate route regulations as listed above are then applied. For more information contact (opens in a new window)

Job Outlook: The job market for teachers varies widely by geographic area and subject specialty. Teachers with backgrounds in mathematics, science, bilingual education, and special education are in high demand at this time. The large number of New York State teachers retiring in the next ten years makes the recruitment, certification, and retention of teachers a priority in New York State.

Earnings: In 2000, the New York State annual range for teachers was between $31,364 and $69,565 depending on location and length of service. Salary scales correlate to issues including longevity of service in a specific school district as well as others and continued education.

Opportunities for Advancement: With experience and in some cases additional education, certified teachers can advance to school principal and other school administrative positions (see position 13 or Director of Head Start) or child care (see position 6).

Related Careers:

Serving Children Directly - Individual tutors, child advocate, child protective services worker, recreation workers, librarians, camp director, coordinator - arts enrichment program

Serving Families Directly - Parent educator, family advocate, home visitor, curriculum specialist, corporate contact person

Providing Information, Goods or Services - Community resource agent, data base management, curriculum developer, researcher, author (children or adult books on education), developer or marketer of educational products, educational consultant, college professor, and government official