New PA Teacher Certifications Approved by State Commission

HARRISBURG – A plan to bolster student success by ensuring that all teacher candidates are trained to succeed in the classrooms of the 21st Century has been unanimously approved by a state regulatory panel, Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak announced today.

The Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved the teacher certification changes that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2013. The changes were included in final form regulations promulgated by the State Board of Education.

The new certification categories were proposed by the State Board of Education and strongly supported by several educational organizations and the Department of Education.

Zahorchak personally appeared before the IRRC panel on Thursday to urge adoption of the new teacher certification categories.

“The research is clear that the quality of instruction is a primary factor in determining student success,” Zahorchak said. “Quality teaching leads to improved student achievement.”

The new regulations would eliminate the existing certification for kindergarten through 6th grade teachers, replacing it with two new categories: one for pre-K through 4th grade teachers and the other for 4th through 8th grade teachers.

The changes will ensure college and university teacher preparation programs produce graduates who have a greater depth of knowledge in content areas, a deeper understanding of child development and a wider variety of instructional skills to be able to teach a diverse range of learners, including children with disabilities and English language learners.

“With the increased emphasis we have placed on early childhood education in Pennsylvania, we need to have teachers who have the knowledge and skills to teach our youngest learners,” Zahorchak said. “Equally important is the need for more specialization at the middle grade levels.”

Pennsylvania certifies between 12,000 and 14,000 teachers a year, about 5,000 of whom remain in Pennsylvania to teach.

The regulations will be reviewed by state attorney general’s office and will become effective upon subsequent publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

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