Proposed Amendments to Part 25 (Certification)
Several pieces of legislation enacted in the last couple of years have affected the requirements for educator preparation programs, candidates preparing for certification, and individuals applying for Illinois educator certification. Each of these public acts is listed below, along with its effective date and a brief explanation of its impact on administrative rules governing Certification (23 Ill. Adm. Code 25).
Described below are the proposed amendments to Part 25 necessary to implement the educator licensure system, effective July 1, 2013, and exchange educators’ existing certificates, endorsements, designations and approvals to one of the following licenses authorized under Section 21B-20 of the School Code:
Many of the changes being proposed in the rules simply align the certification rules to the licensure system and therefore are considered nonsubstantive and technical in nature. For this reason, they are not being enumerated in this summary. Other of the changes that are substantive, resulting either from legislation or changes in policies or practices, are more fully explained below, organized by the section of Part 25 affected by the new laws’ provisions.
Section 25.11, which describes the system of initial and standard certificates currently in place, is being repealed. Those portions of Section 25.11 that are still applicable to the licensure system have been moved to other sections of the rules, namely new Section 25.25, Requirements for the Professional Educator License.
Section 25.15 describes the process for the exchange of certificates for licenses. Essentially, the agency will be moving from a multiple certificate system (various teaching certificates based on grade levels, school service personnel certificates, administrative certificates, special certificates) to a single professional educator license. Endorsements placed on the professional educator license will reflect the various teaching (i.e., grade levels and subject areas), administrative and school support personnel positions for which an individual is qualified. For instance, an individual who holds multiple certificates currently, such as a teaching certificate and an administrative certificate, will receive a single professional educator license with endorsements for each of these credentials. As noted in the summary above, for those certificate-holders who have limited scope in employment or in length of service, the law creates the educator license with stipulations, which will be endorsed according to the credential the certificate-holder currently has.
Additionally, the status of any currently held certificate (i.e., valid and active, valid and exempt, lapsed) will remain the same once the certificate is exchanged for the license and will be recorded in Educator License Information System (ELIS). Similarly, any sanctions on a currently held license (i.e., revocation, suspension) also will be noted in ELIS. For the exchange only, any status or sanction will apply to the particular endorsement for which the certificate was exchanged rather than to the professional educator license. After July 1, 2013, exchange, any status change or action taken against a license will affect the license and all of its endorsements. (Also see Sections 25.485 through 25.491 of the proposed amendments.)
The exchange of an individual’s certificates for any of the three license types (professional educator license, educator license with stipulations or substitute teaching license), along with the applicable endorsements, will be “seamless”; that is, it will occur electronically in ELIS without requiring that the certificate-holder make application for the appropriate license.
A certificate-holder will be able to review and verify the exchange of his or her certificates and any endorsements held in ELIS once the exchange has been made. The exchange is expected to begin in June 2013 and be completed by month’s end. Under the licensure system, no paper copies of licenses will be provided to licensees, as school districts will be able to verify an individual’s credentials for purposes of employment or assignment in ELIS.
Section 25.25 sets forth the process for qualifying for the receipt of a professional educator license sought on or after July 1, 2013. The proposed amendments further refine requirements found in Section 21B-20(1) of the School Code for each candidate’s completion of coursework in special education, reading and English language learning. The proposed provisions ensure that special education coursework aligns to the cross-categorical certification of special educators put in place by the Corey H. ruling and that reading coursework for teachers and administrators meets the standards for that curricular area established in Part 24 (Standards for All Illinois Teachers). Additionally, special consideration for reading coursework has been made for school support personnel, who provide supports to students rather than providing direct instruction. Reading coursework for school support personnel will be expected to lay a foundation for understanding reading development and using the skills specific to the support area to contribute to students’ improvement through consultation with parents and other educators and the provision of various reading activities, as applicable.
Sections 25.37 and 25.100 are each being modified to require that any individual wishing to receive various endorsements have their transcripts evaluated by an Illinois institution of higher education that offers approved educator preparation programs to determine if the person meets the requirements for receipt of the endorsement sought. Currently, this “transcript review” is conducted by staff in the Educator Licensure Division; however, educator preparation programs have more experience and expertise in determining whether coursework completed is equivalent to the coursework required for a particular endorsement and the responsibility for doing so is more appropriately placed with them rather than with the agency.
Sections 25.43 through 25.48 set forth the changes in special education certification ordered by the federal court in the Corey H. ruling. While the court orders were issued in the early 2000s, the certification requirements of those orders were not promulgated into Part 25 until last year due to the ongoing nature of the matter. Modifications being proposed in these sections of the rules will bring the requirements up to date (they were placed in the rules as ordered by the court) to better reflect special education licensure requirements. In particular, the option of conditional approval for individuals with training in specific disability areas (categorical certification) that enabled them to serve students of any of the disability areas (cross-categorical certification) is being removed. This “limited” credential is no longer being issued. Those who currently hold the limited credential will be allowed to progress to the full credential as set forth in Section 25.46 of the rules.
Additionally, the short-term emergency certification allowed under Section 25.48 of the rules is proposed for an automatic “sunset” on September 1, 2015. The purpose of the certification was to allow individuals to serve in positions requiring a Learning Behavior Specialist I endorsement even if they did not meet all the requirements for this cross-categorical credential. The certification was good for three years, during which time the individual would complete the requirements for the LBS I endorsement. Special education teachers have been required since 2002 to have an LBS I endorsement and those lacking certain coursework for the full endorsement had seven years to move to the LBS I endorsement. For these reasons, this type of short-term certification is no longer needed.
Section 25.60 establishes requirements for the alternative educator program authorized under Section 21B-50 of the School Code. These programs will eventually replace those described under Sections 25.65 and 25.67 of the rules. The proposed amendments set forth the qualifications of mentors and program coordinators and establish requirements for program application and approval (which are similar to those already in place). Currently approved alternative education programs that wish to offer alternative education programs for candidates admitted after September 1, 2013, will need to submit a proposal for program approval under new Section 25.60 and Subpart C of the rules.
Sections 25.70, 25.72 and 25.75 establish the criteria for individuals who have not completed teacher preparation programs who wish to teach in career and technical education programs. The proposed changes in Sections 25.70, 25.72 and 25.75 respond to Sections 21B-20(2)(E) and (F) of the School Code, which replace requirements for these credentials currently found in Section 21-10(C) and (E) of the School Code. Section 21-10 of the School Code is repealed as of June 30, 2013, and only two of the three credentials authorized are being retained in the new system of licensure. These are the provisional vocational certificate (Section 25.70 of the School Code) and the temporary provisional vocational certificate (Section 25.72 of the School Code). Under the licensure system, these credentials will be placed on the educator license with stipulations as a career and technical educator endorsement or provisional career and technical educator endorsement, respectively.
Section 25.75, however, is being proposed for repeal. This Section established requirements for the part-time provisional certificate, which will no longer be available under the new system. Individuals holding these certificates differ from those with provisional or temporary provisional vocational certificates in that certificate-holders are required to have either 60 semester hours of college coursework or a certain number of work experience hours in order to obtain the certificate. A provisional certificate is issued only to those who have both the coursework and work experience, while the number of hours required for the temporary certificate is significantly higher than what is required for the part-time provisional certificate.
Part 25 was amended, effective July 2012, to inform holders of the part-time provisional certificate that they no longer would be able to teach on that certificate after June 30, 2013. Those who do have the requisite coursework and/or work experience may choose to apply for the educator license with stipulations endorsed for either career and technical educator or provisional career and technical educator, as applicable, in order to remain qualified to teach. If they do not qualify for either of those endorsements, then they will no longer be allowed to teach. Currently, eight part-time provisional vocational certificates will be expiring on June 30, 2013, and three will be expiring on June 30, 2014.
Sections 25.85 and 25.86 were added to Part 25 in 2002 as a way to broaden the opportunities for certification in the foreign languages, in response to shortages at that time in certain language areas. Both sections are now proposed for repeal. Section 25.85 currently allows those holding a teaching certificate with a foreign language endorsement to qualify for additional grade levels or foreign languages; applicable portions of this Section will be moved to Section 25.100(h) so that all requirements specific to foreign language endorsements are in one location.
Section 25.86 addresses credentials for individuals who do not hold an Illinois teaching certificate. Section 21B-20(2)(H) of the School Code adds an endorsement for language to the educator license with stipulations, replacing the need for consideration of special provisions for individuals who are not fully certified, as set forth in Section 25.86. The requirements specific to the new language endorsement can be found in proposed new Section 25.95 of the rules.
Section 25.105, addressing temporary substitute teacher permits, was put in place as a result of the displacement caused by Hurricane Katrina. The provisions were never used and can be removed. Similar language can be added to the rules in the future, should the need arise.
As noted earlier, any administrative or school service personnel certificate, and each endorsement, held by an educator currently will be transferred to the professional educator license as an endorsement on that license. For this reason, changes being proposed in Subparts D (School Support Personnel) and E (Certification of Administrative and Supervisory Staff) reflect the licensure system and align the regulatory provisions to the new law, including reminding individuals seeking either a school support personnel or administrative endorsement that they must first hold the professional educator license (see Sections 25.200 and 25.300 of the proposed amendments) before seeking endorsements in either of these areas.
Section 25.311 establishes the alternative route to superintendent licensure, incorporating the requirements found in Sections 21B-20(2)(C) and 21B-55 of the School Code. The program is intended for those with management experience outside of the prekindergarten-through-grade-12 public or recognized nonpublic school setting to obtain a superintendent’s endorsement on a professional educator license. Requirements for program approval are similar to those already in place for the alternative route for administrative certification (Section 25.313), except that administrative credentials other than superintendent, such as general administrative or chief school business official, are no longer offered through the alternative program. Candidates will serve a residency of one school year either as a superintendent or assistant superintendent. Additionally, those candidates who will be evaluating principals during their residency will be required to complete the prequalification process and pass the assessment required under Section 24A-3 of the School Code relative to performance evaluations.
Section 25.314, which provides for an alternative route to administrative certification for teacher-leaders, is proposed for repeal. Although P.A. 97-607 did not contain an automatic sunset date for this program established under Section 21-5e of the School Code nor did it repeal the law, no programs for this purpose currently are operating or approved. Therefore, the repeal of Section 21-5e will be added to the State Board’s duplicative/obsolete bill for consideration in the spring 2013 legislative session.
Section 25.400, registration of licenses, would require that a separate fee be paid to register each license held. Currently, all certificates may be registered for one fee. The change is being proposed since the professional educator license is issued for five years, while the validity periods for endorsements on an educator license with stipulations vary. It is unlikely that an individual will hold more than one license, since the various certificates now available will be endorsements on the professional educator license. If an individual does have both a professional educator license and educator license with stipulations or substitute teaching license, requiring separate registration and payment of a fee for each will enable staff to make sure any renewal requirements for the license being renewed and registered have been met.
Section 25.410 is being modified to make clear that, under the licensure system, a person who chooses to surrender his or her license will give up the license and all endorsements (i.e., teaching, administrative, school support personnel, special) on that license (Section 21B-45 of the School Code). A caveat is being provided in Section 25.485, however, to make clear that a voluntary surrender unrelated to a finding of misconduct is not subject to the prohibition against making future applications for a license, endorsement, approval or designation.
Section 25.411 allows a licensee to surrender one or more endorsements on an educator license, subject to the conditions established in the proposed rule. Currently, an individual may wish to surrender a certificate if he or she is not working on the credential or when he or she does not want to be assigned by the employing school district to a certain position by virtue of holding the certificate. That individual now may choose to surrender an administrative certificate, for example, without that action affecting any other certificate (e.g., teaching) that he or she may hold. Since the law addresses only the surrender of a license and all credentials will be placed on a single license instead of multiple certificates, the process to surrender an endorsement must be set forth in rules. The proposed process will ensure that any such surrender will be considered carefully by the licensee and that should the licensee wish to get the endorsement back, he or she will be made to meet any new requirements (coursework, testing) in effect at the time application is made for the endorsement.
Section 25.450 is being amended in response to P.A. 97-682, which now allows an individual who has a lapsed license (i.e., a license that has not been registered or renewed for six months or more) to renew that license by paying a penalty of $500 or completing certain coursework, as well as paying all accumulated fees owed. The penalty cannot be paid in advance of the license lapsing, however. The proposed amendments also clarify that any individual who does not renew his or her license due to failure to complete all continuing professional development units (CPDUs) will be able to renew the license if he or she finishes the CPDUs before the license lapses.
Section 25.464, which is being proposed for repeal, is a long-time provision that allows for the employment of teachers licensed for a particular grade level but who lack the endorsement for a content area to which they have been assigned. The authorization is issued to the employing entity for three years, during which time the individual is expected to take coursework and meet other requirements in order to qualify for the endorsement of assignment. Originally put in place to help with teacher shortage areas, staff believe the authorization is no longer needed due to few content areas experiencing a shortage of qualified staff, the State’s adoption of the rigorous common core standards, and requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act relative to highly qualified teachers that help ensure that each classroom has a fully qualified teacher.
New Section 25.480 places into the rules requirements for character references or personal statements that must be submitted with applications for licensure or renewal in instances of an applicant being named in reports of child abuse or neglect or convicted of certain crimes. It also sets forth the review process to determine whether the license, endorsement, designation, or approval will be issued or the renewal granted. The proposed requirements are intended to provide a uniform and transparent process for the review of applications in these circumstances.
New Section 25.491 results from the changes made in Section 21B-75 of the School Code, relative to action taken against a certificate or license of an individual who has two unsatisfactory performance evaluation ratings in seven years. The proposed rule outlines the additional information that the applicant must submit with any licensure or renewal application and acknowledges that the State Superintendent may request this information outside of a licensure application process when he or she becomes aware of an educator who has had two unsatisfactory ratings within the seven-year time period. These evaluation ratings will be recorded in ELIS to be used for educator program review purposes (see Section 25.115(h) of the rules) and for data collection and reporting specific to student growth and the performance evaluation system.
Section 25.510 establishes requirements for paraprofessionals. Under the licensure system, each paraprofessional must hold an educator license with stipulations endorsed for paraprofessional educator. The new law also requires that the individual have 60 hours of college coursework or associate’s degree or pass a basic skills test to receive the license and endorsement. Previously, an individual could serve as a paraprofessional with only 30 hours of college coursework but could not be employed in certain federal programs without first meeting additional criteria set forth in Section 25.510(d). Those criteria mirror the new requirements in Article 21B for paraprofessionals, so subsection (d) is no longer needed. In the exchange of a certificate or approval for the applicable license, those individuals with fewer than 60 hours who also met the requirements of subsection (d) may continue to be employed in the identified federal programs. (Also see Section 25.15(2)(I) and (J) of the proposed rules.)
Section 25.550, approval for educational interpreters, is being amended to remove separate requirements for initial approval (up to four years at a beginning skill level), standard approval (intermediate skill level) and master approval (advanced skill level). This system was put in place in 2005 to reflect the way in which teacher certification operates; however, there were no requirements that an individual progress through lower levels to reach higher ones, except that an individual could hold initial approval for only four years.
The rules, as proposed, retain the approval criteria set for the standard approval level. Additionally, the proposal provides for another option for showing competency by incorporating the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission’s examination. This examination provides greater opportunities for educational interpreters to receive the required credential since the examination is offered five days a week. Previously, candidates had to participate in the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment, which is offered less frequently on a limited-space basis.
Finally, the renewal process for educational interpreters has been streamlined, and the continuing education options and they way in which they are credited will mirror those for teachers found in Subpart J of the rules.
Section 25.620 is being modified to put in rule new policy regarding the credentials to serve as a cooperating teacher for a candidate serving as a student teacher (subsection (d)) and to better reflect current practice (subsection (e)).
Changes in Subparts I (Testing) and J (Renewal of Teaching Certificates) align the rules to the provisions of Article 21B of the School Code. Additionally, language that is no longer in effect (e.g., tests administered previous to 2004, use of a renewal application) is being removed.
Additionally, two new sections – Sections 25.820 and 25.825 – are being added to Subpart J in order to preserve the requirements found in Sections 25.915 and 25.920 that are proposed for repeal. These requirements address assessing one’s performance and National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification, as they related to a teacher’s moving from an initial to standard certificate. Both sections currently are placed in Subpart K, which is being repealed (see below), and had been cross-referenced in Subpart J as acceptable options to earn continuing professional development credit for certificate renewal purposes.
Subpart K addresses the requirements for teachers moving from an initial certificate (first four years of holding a certificate) to a standard certificate (full certificate) and is proposed for repeal as the licensure system includes a single professional educator license whose receipt is not tied to an individual’s experience.
Finally, Appendices C (Certificate Exchange) and E (Endorsements) address the licenses and endorsements that will be issued starting July 1, 2013, when the new licensure system will take effect. In particular, certificates that are no longer issued that were exchanged in 2000 for the applicable standard certificate are being removed.
Initial Review by State Board of Education: December 2012