Maintaining Your Certificate
What is a valid certificate?
It is a certificate having an allotted period of usable time remaining on it. The period of validity can be either based on calendar time (Intern) or service time (Instructional I, Educational Specialist I).
What is an active certificate?
It is a certificate whose holder has satisfied the state’s continuing professional education requirements.
Can a certificate be valid but inactive?
Yes. A certificate will be valid for a given span of time – six years of service time for a Level I and 99 years of time for a Level II. A certificate will be active for a maximum of five calendar years before having to be reactivated through an accumulation of continuing professional education requirements of six collegiate credits or six approved in-service credits or 180 approved activity hours or any combination of hours and credits. For calculation purposes, one credit is equal to 30 activity hours.
Can I work on either an invalid or inactive certificate?
You cannot work at all on an invalid certificate. You can substitute (day-to-day only) up to, but no more than, 90 days per school year on an inactive certificate. Retirees may substitute (day-to-day only) a cumulative 180 days on an inactive certificate.
How do I maintain a valid certificate?
All teachers and specialists begin with a Level I certificate which has a life of six (6) service years after which it must be converted to a Level II. This is done by meeting certain state requirements that entail further training and study beyond the baccalaureate, a successful period of experience on the Level I certificate as determined by using the required state-approved evaluation form, the completion of an induction program, and satisfactory achievement in a PDE prescribed assessment (PDE 427 evaluation form) within the allotted six service years. If you do not meet these requirements within the six-year service life of your Level I certificate, your license becomes invalid and you cannot work on it until these obligations are met.
How do the requirements for a valid certificate differ from those for an active certificate?
A valid certificate is maintained by converting an initial or provisional certificate (Instructional or Educational Specialist) from a Level I to a Level II within six service years. Conversion is achieved by accruing 24 post-baccalaureate credits, completing a Department-approved induction program, teaching successfully for least three years out of six, and passing a practice assessment (PDE 427 evaluation).
An active certificate is maintained throughout the life of the Level I or II certificate by meeting the continuing professional education requirements every five calendar years.
How do I maintain an active certificate?
A holder of any type of Pennsylvania educator certificate is required by law (Act 48) to maintain professional currency on that certificate. This is done through the accrual of collegiate credits, continuing professional development credits (IU), and/or activity hours or experiences. Everyone who holds a certificate issued by Pennsylvania is affected by Act 48 whether they are employed or not; whether they are retired or not; or whether they hold a provisional (Level I) or permanent (Level II) certificate.
Those full-time tenured and non-tenured teachers in public school entities in Pennsylvania, including charter schools and their non-certified staffs, must meet the intent of Act 48 or forfeit the ability to work full-time.
Others who function as substitutes or who do not work full time for any reason have three options: (1) they may choose to maintain an active certificate by taking the requisite credits and/or activity hours; (2) they may voluntarily inactivate their certificates by completing an application and submitting it to PDE with a fee, or (3) they may let their certificates run out of active time. Whether they voluntarily inactivate their certificates or let them run out, they are able to substitute up to 90 days per year in the public schools. Those who voluntarily inactivate their certificates stop the clock so that their professional development obligations will not increase every five years but stay at the level they were when they inactivated their certificates.
Maintaining an active certificate means accumulating one or a combination of the following:
- Six credits of collegiate studies, or
- Six credits of Department-approved in-service courses, or
- One hundred eighty hours of Department-approved continuing professional development activities and experiences or a combination.
Request for Voluntary Inactive Certification
Can I renew a Level I certificate if I fail to meet the requirements in the allotted time? No.
Can I renew an Intern Permit if I fail to meet the requirements in the allotted time? No.
Who determines if my certificate is valid and/or active?
The Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality in the Department of Education.
How can I confirm that my certificate is still valid? Active?
Level I certificates are valid for years of service, not chronological years. If you stopped working or never worked on your Level I and therefore never used the six years designated service years, your certificate is still valid. To officially confirm the validity status of your certificate, call the Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality at (717) 787-3356 and request a review of your work/school experience or ask your school district’s office to conduct an unofficial assessment of your certificate’s validity.
Act 48 requires the state to maintain records of every certificate holder’s continuing professional education status. We recommend that everyone under Act 48 requirements should check their Act 48 status at least twice a year. You can do this by accessing the Act 48 Reporting System on PDE’s website. You will be required to enter your Professional Personnel ID (PPI). First time visitors will need to apply for their PPI by entering their name, social security number and date of birth. You may also check on your Act 48 status on your TIMS home screen.
How do I apply credits toward validity or activity that are not officially transcripted like in-service credits and/or professional development activities?
For validity purposes, individuals must submit signed attestations by officials in charge of the training to the Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality or its designee in order to credit their records for conversion purposes (validity).
For continuing professional education, the law requires the approved providers (PDE, school district, state-approved or regionally-accredited institution of higher or post secondary education, IU, or other organizations like PSEA and PFT) to electronically submit reports to the Department of Education confirming that individuals have successfully completed credit or activity hour bearing workshops and/or experiences.
Can changes to rules and regulations governing certification validity and activity affect me even though I was awarded certification under a different set of policies?
If permitted by statute or regulation, yes. In the past, many changes in law, regulation, and/or Department policy grandfathered those certificate holders already in the “pipeline.” However, Act 48, for example, did not. Thus, even though the state refers to the Level II certificate as “permanent,” the fact is that law has superseded law and now Pennsylvania certificates are renewable, even the “permanent” ones!
My Instructional I certificate says that it is valid for six years. I earned the certificate five years ago but taught only one year. Will my certificate expire at the end of this year?
No. Your Instructional I Certificate is good for six years of service, not six calendar years. The clock is only ticking when you are employed by a Pennsylvania public school entity.
When is a certificate not usable for employment?
When it is invalid (time for conversion has expired) or when it is inactive (required professional development activities have not been accrued within a five-year calendar year time frame). An individual cannot work on an invalid certificate at all, but can substitute up to 90 days a year on an inactive certificate and a cumulative 180 days for retirees.
Where can I obtain information about in-service credits and/or PDE-approved continuing professional education activity hours?
Information about in-service credits needed to convert a Level I to a Level II or to satisfy the credit requirements for the Letter of Equivalency is available through your local intermediate unit or school personnel office. Approved activity hours to maintain an active certificate may be earned through PDE-approved providers, including PSEA. The Education Services Division of PSEA has a listing of PDE-approved PSEA professional development offerings. PDE also has information on its web site about its credit-bearing approved providers.
PDE, through the Online Professional Education Network (OPEN), also provides free, online courses.