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  1. 1. CERTIFIED TEACHERS WORKING AS TEACHER ASSISTANTS IN NEW YORK ​ From: Elissa G. Smith, Ph.D. and Jennifer Chernis, Policy Fellows with the New York Educator Voice Fellowship Problem Certified teachers working as teacher assistants are unable to accrue necessary credit and professional development toward maintaining and advancing their New York State Education Department (NYSED) teacher certification. Solution Allow certified teachers working as teacher assistants to accrue 60% credit toward maintaining and/or renewing their teaching certification. Schools districts will be required to submit professional development records for all employees holding initial, provisional and/or professional certification. Under the guidelines on the NYSED “Certification Start to Finish” page, individuals who have received an initial certification are required to complete three years of teaching experience within 5 years in order to apply for a provisional certification. If they are unable to secure employment and obtain three years of teaching experience, they must renew their certification. In order to renew their teaching credentials, they must complete 75 hours of professional development and re-take the content area specialty test(s) in their certification area(s). In many areas of New York State school districts have reduced staff over the last 10 years, which has led to an overabundance of qualified professionals seeking employment in a saturated market. Due to these budgetary cutbacks school districts have hired teacher assistants to support learning and instruction. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that in 2014-2015, 123,900 teaching assistants were employed in New York State Schools. New York State schools employ the second highest number1 of teacher assistants in the country, outnumbered only by California. However, New York State reporting data does not record the number of teaching assistants per district, their level of education, and/or the certification(s) they hold. The Regulations under the Commissioner of Education, Section 80 5-6 state that “Teaching Assistants, unlike teacher aides, are members of the teaching staff and must be given a probationary appointment as a teaching assistant and are eligible for tenure.” However, if one holds an initial certification and becomes a tenured teacher assistant after three years, he or she may be eligible for an extension. Then, after the extension expires he or she will lose teaching certification, and as a result, his or her position. Teaching assistants are included in many teacher contracts across the state. ​However, there are currently no regulations that require school districts to provide teacher assistants with professional development. This results in school districts not uniformly providing opportunities for learning, or 1 US Department of Labor. 30 March 2016. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes259041.htm#st
  2. 2. maintaining accurate professional development records, which are required for certified teaching assistants to obtain their professional certification. John L. D’Agati shared a proposal to the Higher Education Committee on November 3, 20162 amending the extension process. However, he did not address the types of service that count as teaching experience to acquire the necessary 3 years. ​Under the current regulations working as a substitute counts as service credit but being employed by a school district as a teaching assistant does not. Proposal An addendum to the proposed amendment of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Section 80- 1.6: Holders of an initial teaching certificate, who have obtained a teaching assistant position working in their area of certification, shall be granted 60% credit for service accrued towards time necessary to apply for a professional certification and/or maintain initial certification. Therefore, an individual who has been employed as a teacher assistant in their area of certification for the 5 year initial certification time period will have accrued enough teaching credit to apply for an initial certification and/or maintain initial certification. School districts will be required to maintain records of professional development hours for all individuals holding a teaching certification, regardless of their area of employment. School districts must not deny individuals professional development provided by the district within the school day, based on their area of employment. All certified individuals must be provided with equal opportunities to receive professional development provided by the school district during the school day. Jennifer Chernis is a Special Education Teacher with in the East Moriches School District on the Eastern end of Long Island. She is the Aimsweb trainer and facilitator. She has participated on curriculum committees in all subject areas. Jennifer began a 1:1 iPad initiative with students with special needs. She is a teacher mentor and the Director for the summer SCOPE Enrichment program. Jennifer is a New York Educator Voice Policy Fellow with America Achieves. jchernis@emoschools.org / 631.878.0162 Dr. Elissa Smith began her teaching career in 2001, and she is the PreK-6 Principal at Lyndonville Central School District in rural Western New York. She was previously the AVID (College Preparation) Coordinator, and also taught Spanish and communication courses. Dr. Smith earned her PhD (focused on Education Policy) from Niagara University. Dr. Smith's research centers on rural education and college-and-career 2 D’Agati, Deputy Commissioner, NYSED. 29 December 2016. http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/117hed1.pdf
  3. 3. preparation. She is also a New York Educator Voice Policy Fellow with America Achieves. esmith@lcsdk12.org / 585.765.3122