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March 12, 2014
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JP O'Hare

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Regents Support Teacher "Bar Exam";

Say More Rigorous Certification Process Will Help Students

The State Board of Regents' Higher Education Committee yesterday discussed the extensive supports the Department has provided for implementation of the new teacher certification exams, including the edTPA (a performance-based assessment of teaching modeled on the highly regarded National Board Certification), the rigorous basic literacy Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST), and the Educating All Students exam, which evaluates candidates' readiness to teach in diverse classrooms (including students with disabilities and English Language Learners) and work effectively with students' families. After a discussion of the $20 million in Race to the Top funds the State Education Department has provided for the implementation of clinically rich programs at 13 institutions in New York State and a conversation about the certification examinations, the Committee indicated that the work should continue to move forward.

"The Board of Regents started this initiative in 2009," State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said. "We've invested $11.5 million in Race to the Top funds to help higher education institutions transition to the new requirements. In the past year, there have been hundreds of meetings and workshops conducted all over New York State as a result of the extensive support from the State Education Department along with our partners SUNY, CUNY, and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. We are encouraged by the reports of the P-20 collaboration and stronger partnerships across sectors and the Board expressed confidence in the direction we've taken."

"There are no school-based factors more crucial to a student's academic success than having an effective teacher in a school led by an effective principal," King added. "New York is raising standards for students to ensure they are ready for college and careers, but maximizing the success of that effort requires that we demand just as much excellence from the educators who will teach them. If we don't continue to improve teacher candidates' preparation for 21st century classrooms, far too many of our high school students will continue to graduate unprepared for college or careers, parents and college students will continue to pay for remedial courses in college and we will fall further behind in providing economic opportunities for our young adults.

"The new exams were originally scheduled for 2013. Teacher preparation program faculty asked for an extra year to ensure they were prepared to implement the new exams and the Board of Regents granted that request. This year, teacher candidates across the State are meeting the higher expectation to which the Board of Regents committed five years ago."

Calls for improvement in teacher preparation have come from the federal government, teacher unions, leadership organizations, and higher education accreditation bodies. Governor Cuomo last year called for an increase in "standards for teacher certification…by requiring passage of a bar exam." Last year's enacted budget committed to "a teacher and principal bar exam certification program that would include a common set of professionally rigorous assessments to ensure the best prepared educators are entering the public school system."

King noted the Department has conducted extensive field engagement with higher education faculty and P-12 teachers in the development of all of the new certification examinations and the setting of standards for student performance on the exams. He added that agreements signed in 2012 between the Department and SUNY, CUNY and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (cIcu) provided a substantial investment of the state's Race to the Top monies to provide professional development for college and university faculty around the new certification examinations and pillars of the Regents Reform Agenda.

The Higher Education Committee also committed to closely monitor student performance on the new certification exams and to continue to discuss specific supports that SUNY, CUNY, and cIcu can provide using the Race to the Top funding that will benefit teacher preparation candidates and ultimately P-12 students. Committee members also expressed that they are monitoring closely the real experience of test takers in this first round of administration and will again in April assess the special circumstances of a transition year.

Attached is a timeline of the implementation of the new certification requirements. For a list of frequently asked questions, please go to:

To view the PowerPoint presentation from the Board of Regents Committee meeting, please go to:

Five-Year Implementation Timeline
edTPA and Other Teacher Certification Changes

The Board of Regents reviews initiatives to strengthen examinations for the certification of teachers and school leaders.



  • Certification examination changes included in New York’s successful Race to the Top application.
  • New York State develops and pilots performance assessment based on the TPA (the pre-cursor to the edTPA)
  • Certification changes presented to NYSATE-NYACTE



  • Certification changes presented to CUNY Deans Meeting and SUNY Deans Meeting
  • edTPA-aligned TPA field tested twice; 500 candidates and 250 faculty participate (spring and fall 2011)



  • Board of Regents pushes back implementation of new certification examinations from May 2013 to May 2014.
  • March 2012: Board of Regents endorses edTPA, developed in partnership by Stanford University and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, as the NYS performance assessment.
  • April 2012: SED announces agreements with SUNY, CUNY and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities to provide $10 million to help higher education institutions assimilate new information on teaching and learning into their programs.



  • The Education Reform Commission recommends establishment of a “bar”- like exam for entry into the teaching and principal profession.
  • March 2013: State budget includes provision requiring the creation of standards for a teacher and principal bar exam certification program.
  • Fall 2013: New certification exams offered for the first time.
  • November 2013: SED provides additional $1.5 million in RTTT funding for faculty professional development.


May 2014: All education program graduates must take new certification exams, including edTPA, in order to be certified.