Many areas of the world are experiencing an expanding outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus, COVID-19. This virus can spread from person-to-person and the number of cases detected in the United States and many other countries is growing. On January 21, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the first case of COVID-19 in the United States in Washington State.
As communities within our state prepare for and respond to a COVID-19 outbreak, we would like to share resources and guidance to help navigate any areas of concern. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation, and will publish any additional changes or guidance as new developments occur. As always, we appreciate your patience, partnership, and support.
New edTPA guidance and FAQ for educator candidates
As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, Washington remains committed to providing flexible and sustainable approaches to support educator candidates as they work to meet assessment requirements.
Candidates must meet the edTPA portfolio-based performance assessment in order to complete their teacher preparation program. The edTPA is designed to assess how teacher candidates plan and teach lessons, exhibit culturally responsive instruction, and demonstrate approaches to differentiate student needs. The edTPA provides an opportunity for prospective teachers to demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to help all students learn in real classrooms.
FAQ for candidates
We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to provide clarity, guidance and resources for educator candidates as they begin to navigate new virtual learning environments. View our FAQ: Navigating edTPA policy as an educator candidate (document).
A few questions you will find answers to include:
- Can PESB waive or eliminate the edTPA?
- Can I complete the edTPA in a virtual learning environment?
- What if I cannot record a video of my online instruction?
Candidates still need to work directly with their preparation program on next steps and options. Preparation programs may set their own requirements and timelines in addition to state requirements, so they need to maintain contact with their program throughout the process.
Assessment contractor resources for completing edTPA in a virtual learning environment
Pearson has provided new guidance to support candidates and preparation programs who have been impacted by COVID-19. This guidance includes:
- Ways candidates may collect and provide acceptable forms of evidence while teaching in a virtual learning environment
- Extended registration
- Additional submission windows
For further information, please contact your program’s edTPA coordinator.
Testing centers are open at reduced capacity to allow for social distancing. The WEST assessment website has guidelines on test center closings and rescheduling procedures.
Educator candidates have the opportunity to use online proctoring to take specific content knowledge and basic skills assessments. Following a simple check-in process, online proctoring allows you to securely take a test from your home, school, or business.
Tests are becoming available for online proctoring through a phased rollout. Find out more (document) about which tests are available online.
As school districts navigate options for the 2020-21 school year, assignment policy can provide needed flexibility. While this flexibility allows for meeting workforce needs, it is important to prioritize student access to appropriately credentialed educators.
The Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) works to ensure that Washington’s students have courses and support services from appropriately credentialed educators. One way PESB does this is through assignment policy: matching teacher endorsements with courses, and matching certificates with educator roles. Administrators and human resources staff making assignments, school boards approving assignments and conditional certificates, and all educators will find useful information on our assignment guidance web page.
The Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) has filed emergency rules, extending the validity period on certificates expiring June 30, 2020 for one additional year. These certificates will now expire June 30, 2021. This policy change is effective immediately. Educators do not need to take any action in order to be granted this one year extension. When applying to renew their certificate, educators will need to meet all renewal requirements for their specific certificate and role, including clock hours, or the equivalent in credits or professional growth plans (PGPs).
What certificates are included in this policy change?
- This one year extension of expiration dates applies to residency, professional, initial, and continuing certificates for all roles, including teacher, administrator, career and technical education (CTE), and all educational staff associate (ESA) roles. This policy change is for certificates with an expiration date of June 30, 2020. Individuals with certificates expiring June 30, 2020, who have already applied for certificate renewal will be granted the same one year extension on their renewed certificates. Individuals with permits expiring beginning July 1, 2019, and prior to December 31, 2020 are eligible for an additional one-year permit.
What certificates are not included in this policy change?
- There is no change to the expiration date on limited certificates, including conditional certificates. Districts and individuals need to follow existing policy for reissuance of these certificates. Educators with residency first issue (residency FI) certificates also still need to follow existing timelines to apply for reissuance. There are no clock hours required for reissuance of this certificate.
How can I get information about my certificate?
- Educators can contact the OSPI certification office at email@example.com or (360) 725-6400. Certificate information is also available online, and in individual eCertification accounts. Questions on policy can be directed to PESB at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When can I renew my certificate?
- Educators holding a certificate expiring June 30, 2020 who have met all certificate renewal requirements are encouraged to submit renewal applications now. Submitting a renewal application before the expiration date does not advance the expiration date of the next certificate.
Do I still need to meet the STEM certificate renewal requirement?
- Yes. Educators who hold at least one STEM related endorsement, or a CTE teacher certificate, still need to meet the STEM certificate renewal requirement prior to the new expiration date of their certificate. Find out more about the STEM certificate renewal requirement.
Do I still need to meet the suicide prevention training requirement?
- Yes. School counselors, school psychologists, school nurses, and school social workers still need to meet the suicide prevention training requirement prior to the new expiration date of their certificate. These Educational Staff Associates (ESAs) must complete a PESB approved suicide prevention course, or a Department of Health (DOH) approved course, for certificate renewal. Find out more about suicide prevention training.
Can professional growth plans (PGPs) be completed when school is closed?
- Yes. Through a PGP, an educator sets goals, develops an action plan, and collects evidence. As educational settings change throughout the year, an educator can reflect and modify their goals. Educators may set professional growth goals that do not require in-person instruction with students. For example, goals may relate to self-reflection, professional development, leadership, and other areas of the certification standards and benchmarks. PGPs are equivalent to 25 clock hours. PGPs may be completed between July 1 of one year, and June 30 of the next. These dates are not changing. Only one PGP may be completed per year. Find out more about PGPs.
Can clock hours be offered online?
- Yes. Existing PESB policy allows for clock hour courses to be delivered in online and remote settings. Learn about guidance for offering clock hours online.
Conditional acceptance to a program
Preparation program providers are now planning for, recruiting, and admitting their next group of educator candidates. In doing this, it is important to consider timelines, program format, and candidate opportunities for field experience in light of challenges related to the coronavirus outbreak.
What assessment is required for full acceptance?
- A candidate is required by state law to take a basic skills assessment for full acceptance into a teacher preparation program. Candidates may choose to submit evidence of taking an approved alternative or equivalent basic skills test. Assessment results do not expire. Candidates may submit assessment results from any point in the past.
Can preparation programs offer conditional acceptance?
Yes. Preparation programs may offer conditional acceptance to candidates who have not taken the basic skills assessment. For annual data reporting, preparation programs should note candidates with conditional acceptance in the admission file decision element as “2”, meaning they have been conditionally accepted.
Preparation programs can offer full acceptance to a candidate once they have completed the basic skills assessment requirement. The basic skills assessment must be met prior to program completion and residency certification. Candidates who do not meet one or more of the assessment requirements may be eligible for a one-year emergency certificate.
Emergency teacher certificates
PESB has filed emergency rule (PDF) allowing approved preparation programs to recommend teacher candidates for an emergency certificate if they have met all requirements for program completion with the exception of one or more of the assessments.
What is an emergency certificate?
Programs may recommend candidates for an emergency certificate if the candidate has completed all program requirements, including coursework and clinical practice, with the exception of one or more of the assessment requirements. This emergency teacher certificate is valid for one year, and may be reissued for one additional year upon program recommendation.
A teacher can practice with this certificate anywhere in Washington State as it is not district specific.
Once a candidate has completed all assessment requirements, their preparation program can then recommend them for residency certification.
What are the deadlines for program recommendations for an emergency certificate?
Emergency certificates have a validity period of one year. Programs may recommend candidates for a first emergency certificate no later than December 31, 2021. Programs may recommend candidates for a second emergency certificate no later than June 30, 2022.
How do candidates apply for this emergency certificate, and what is the deadline?
Candidates should contact their preparation programs directly for information on emergency certificates. Once a program has recommended a candidate for the certificate, they will need to complete the application through the OSPI Certification Office.
Candidates recommended for an emergency certificate must apply for that certificate no later than December 31, 2022.
What if a candidate with an emergency certificate completes all the requirements for a residency certificate?
Candidates with emergency certificates who complete all the requirements for a residency certificate can be recommended by the program for the residency certificate through eCertification following normal procedures.
Which assessments are included in this emergency certificate policy?
The basic skills, content knowledge and performance assessments are included in the emergency certificate policy. This includes the edTPA, WEST-E, WEST-B, and NES.
What role does the preparation program play in this emergency certificate?
Programs are required to inform, advise, and support candidates on assessment requirements while they hold the emergency certificate, just as they are for other candidates who have not yet been recommended for a residency certificate. [WAC 181-78a-231(3)]. Programs can recommend a candidate for this emergency certificate if the candidate has completed all requirements for program completion, with the exception of one or more of the assessments.
What options are available for completing clinical practice (student teaching)?
A candidate whose clinical practice hours have been waived or reduced under recent PESB emergency rule would still be eligible for this certificate.
PESB has filed emergency rule allowing educator preparation programs to review a candidate’s course work, field experience, work experience, and alternative learning experience. Based on this review, the preparation program may then waive or reduce in length the clinical practice and course work if they determine the candidate has the required knowledge and skills.
Clinical practice can take place in educational settings through remote instruction, online learning, at alternate locations, or as part of an extended school year.
How is this emergency certificate different from a conditional certificate?
Conditional certificates are only available at district request, and only allow the individual to serve in that specific school district.
This emergency teacher certificate is available at the recommendation of a preparation program, and allows the individual to serve anywhere the state. Unlike the conditional certificate, the emergency certificate requires the candidate to have met all preparation program completion requirements with the exception of one or more of the assessment requirements.
Individuals who are not eligible for emergency certificates may be eligible for conditional certificates. Find out more about conditional certificates.
Emergency certificates and the dual endorsement requirement
Because it is not a residency certificate, the dual endorsement requirement does not apply to the emergency certificate. Candidates need to complete the dual endorsement requirement to obtain a residency certificate. A program provider could follow this process to recommend a candidate.
- If a candidate has met all program completion requirements with the exception of one or more of the assessment requirements, the program could recommend the candidate for the emergency certificate. For the emergency certificate, a program could recommend in a single endorsement only, including special education, early childhood special education, English language learner, bilingual education, or science.
- Once a candidate has completed all requirements for program completion, including all the assessment requirements, the program can recommend the candidate for a residency certificate.
- The candidate needs to complete the dual endorsement requirement prior to obtaining the residency certificate. This could include passing a content knowledge assessment for a test-only endorsement, or completing an endorsement program for a program plus test endorsement.
For more information, please see the dual endorsement FAQ (document).
How can I get information about my certificate?
Educators can contact the OSPI certification office at email@example.com or (360) 725-6400. Certificate information is also available online, and in individual eCertification accounts.
Questions on policy can be directed to PESB at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Field experience and clinical practice
Providers offer field-based learning experiences and formalized clinical practice experiences for candidates to develop and demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed for their role. Programs often work with their candidates and partner school districts to develop plans for meeting required clinical practice hours, including student teaching and administrator internships.
PESB has filed emergency rule allowing educator preparation programs to review a candidate’s course work, field experience, work experience, and alternative learning experience. Based on this review, the preparation program may then waive or reduce in length the clinical practice and course work if they determine the candidate has the required knowledge and skills. This WAC amendment is effective immediately, and will remain in place through June 30 of 2021.
Clinical practice must take place in an educational setting. What options are considered an educational setting?
- Clinical practice can take place in educational settings through remote instruction, online learning, at alternate locations, or as part of an extended school year or school day.
What are other clinical practice requirements?
- Clinical practice must be under the general supervision of a certificated practitioner who has three years’ experience in the role for which the candidate is seeking certification. The preparation program must offer experiences for candidates to develop and demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed for their role.
What about school psychology or school counseling clinical practice?
- Programs preparing candidates in school psychology or school counseling will need to refer to their respective national standards for minimum number of hours and other requirements for clinical practice.
What happens if an educator candidate cannot meet their required clinical practice hours?
- Conditional certificates can provide flexibility to both candidates and school districts. If a district wished to hire a candidate who had not yet had the chance to complete their preparation program (for reasons including disruption of the P-12 or preparation program school year), they could do so on a conditional certificate. This would allow the candidate more time to complete their program, including completing their clinical practice hours.
Information on conditional certificates
Fingerprint background checks
Fingerprint-based background checks help safeguard our students and strengthen the integrity of our education system. Currently, many organizations who normally take fingerprints have stopped. OSPI has provided guidance (PDF) related to this issue. For further information, please contact the OSPI certification office at email@example.com and OSPI fingerprint records at OPPFP@k12.wa.us.
Offering clock hours
Clock hours are a unit of currency for continuing education. They can be used towards obtaining and renewing certificates for a variety of educator roles.
Existing PESB policy allows for clock hour courses to be delivered in online and remote settings. To offer clock hours for online learning, providers must ensure these provisions are met:
- Prior approval: Courses must be approved by the local clock hour committee prior to the course being offered. Clock hours may not be approved or offered retroactively.
- Registration: Participants must register prior to taking courses, and providers must keep records of this. Providers may use online registration systems.
- Attendance: Providers must have the ability to track the attendance of participants. This may be done with an online system.
- Evaluations: Clock hour providers must provide course evaluations to all participants, and, to the extent possible, collect these evaluations. Evaluations may be provided and completed online.
- Clock hour forms: Clock hour documentation, including SPI form 1125 or acceptable alternatives, can be mailed or emailed to participants upon completion of the course.
Regardless of where the learning takes place, providers need to ensure the participants understand how the system works and the steps necessary to earn and record the clock hours. In designing instruction, providers need to consider their participants’ technology related skills and access to the internet.
Paraeducator training requirements
In-person training requirements
To support schools as they continue to navigate in-person and hybrid learning, the Paraeducator Board has extended an emergency rule (document) providing districts with continued flexibility to meet Fundamental Course of Study (FCS) in-person training requirements for paraeducators.
The Fundamental Course of Study consists of 28 hours of training, seven of which are required to be provided in person. The emergency rule allows districts to meet the in-person requirement if they provide training to paraeducators through a virtual format with an instructor that uses synchronous learning. This rule is a continuation of last year’s rule and is in effect until September 1, 2022.
What is synchronous learning?
Virtual learning environments that use synchronous learning allow groups of participants and the instructor to engage in instruction or learning at the same time. An example of synchronous learning includes instructing paraeducators during a live Zoom meeting, or similar software.
What is not considered synchronous learning?
Assigning an online course for paraeducators to complete (e.g., Paraeducators: what we do matters)
Assigning paraeducators to watch videos
This type of learning, known as asynchronous, does not include interaction with an instructor.
What are the requirements for the 2021-22 school year?
During the 2021-22 school year, districts must provide two days (14 hours) of training on the FCS or general certificate.
Please visit the FAQ (document) for more information.
Professional educator advisory boards (PEABs)
Due to health concerns caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, we recognize that it is in the best interest of public safety that PEAB meetings should be held in a virtual format. Please consider the following guidelines when planning and hosting a virtual PEAB meeting:
- Be sure to record attendance, minutes, and recommendations as would be done in any PEAB meeting
- Meals cannot be reimbursed
- Update PEAB members on issues related to COVID-19, including waivers for clinical practice and coursework, emergency certification, and admittance of candidates for the 2020-21 academic year
Transitional certificate for certificate renewal
The PESB Board adopted emergency rules to enable a transitional certificate for educators whose certificates may expire in June 2022 (see related board meeting materials from the May 2022 meeting). The policy change in transitional certificates allows school districts to employ educators whose regular certificates have expired by June 30, 2022, but face difficulties in earning the necessary clock hours for renewal. With the state moving from pandemic response to recovery, this policy helps alleviate the challenges educators have faced during the past several years while still valuing professional learning.
The transitional certificate allows holders of expired certificates to serve in their roles while completing the requirements to renew their certificates. The transitional certificate intends to enable school districts to employ individuals whose regular certificates have expired by June 30, 2022. (WAC 181-79A-231)
Transitional certificates may be issued for teachers, ESA, or administrators whose certificates are subject to renewal under WAC 181-79A-240 and expire or lapse by June 30, 2022. Individuals whose continuing certificate has lapsed or expired continue to be eligible for transitional certificates.
More information about the transitional certificate is in this FAQ document.