5-Year Renewal What?
Oh, yeah, that thing I have to scramble to do once every five years: squeeze in classes, beg for clock hours, file for an extension, and eventually get a five-year renewal of my certificate only to forget about it for another four-and-a-half years. Hopefully, this is not usually your experience. I’m sure some of you plot your courses wisely to methodically finish or just get it all out of the way the first year of the renewal cycle. However you “roll” with your teaching certificate renewal, there’s a new requirement that likely applies to you.
Okay, You Got My Attention.
New renewal requirement you say? Yes, if you have an early childhood P-3 certificate, K-8 certificate, math certificate, science certificate, technology certificate, or CTE certificate, i.e. most teachers! The exceptions being those who live entirely within the world of English Language Arts, History, or foreign language education. If you’re not sure then you’re going to want to double check (even if you only teach one class that qualifies under the STEM umbrella).
When It Takes Effect Then I’ll Get Started.
That’s usually my response too. Right? However, this actually took effect September of 2014. Surprise! The first qualifying class wasn’t even offered until May of 2015 at the University of Washington. I was there. People signed up out of interest and most didn’t know that the STEM-hours requirement even existed or was a thing. WEA has also gotten going early and is working on providing more offerings. They provided their first STEM hours in July of 2015.
But I’ve Got Until 2019, Right?
Yes, and no. If you renewed in September of 2014 then you have to complete the 15 STEM clock hours by September, 2019. So you’ve got four years, but you’ve actually got to find enough qualifying STEM classes to meet the requirement which means you may be 100% stuck if you wait until, say, 2018.
Okay, Okay, I’ll Take a Class on, Wait, What Did You Call It?
STEM. Or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. You may be saying to yourself that there’s no problem there because you take lots of science, technology, and math classes (engineering is a little harder to find). Not so fast. A STEM class has to authentically incorporate the integration and application of two or more STEM components together. So you can’t just slap some STEM lipstick on an existing class and call it good. Class organizers also have to apply for their class to qualify—which means extra work so some STEM classes may not even count (*Correction/Update: class organizers do not need to formally apply to OSPI but do need to make sure their class meets the appropriate requirements–please see Maren Johnson’s very helpful and informative comments below). You need to ask the organizers ahead of time before assuming that the class you’re taking makes the grade and checks off your STEM box.
What if I’m an NBCT?
National Board Certified Teachers are off the hook for now, but what affects your colleagues affects you. Plus, there are coming changes to the NBCT renewal process as well, e.g. from every 10 years to every 5 years for the renewal cycle. True story. Check it out. So this may bring other changes like a STEM requirement that you will want to keep an eye on. In the meantime, NBCT or not, you are going to want to at least have an idea of what most of your colleagues are being trained on.
What about the TPEP option?
Actually, technically, it’s the “PGP” option. You remember that form we used to do for professional development back in the good old days of 2013? Well, according to the official language for the STEM requirement, one of your “PGP” goals can include an emphasis on STEM integration in order to satisfy the criteria. However, the “TPEP” is not the same as the “PGP” so I’d tread very carefully if you decide to go this route. In fact, I’d error on the side of caution to ensure that your license is not put in unnecessary jeopardy. Like, say, the recent loss of “highly qualified” status issue in the Kent school district. I can tell you from first-hand and very personal experience that is a stressful place to be, because I was one of the affected teachers.
What if I’m not in WA State?
Then you may or may not be in luck. These requirements are new, but rarely do they stay limited to one state or isolated within one region. New “trendy” requirements tend to spread like wildfire, and STEM is red hot right now. Plus, Washington tends to be looked at as a leader in regards to science education via their involvement in the Next Generation Science Standards. In fact, just like many Washington teachers you may already have this requirement and not even be aware of it. So, it’s worth looking into, asking some questions, and at the very least keeping an eye out for new STEM-related training requirements in your state. You don’t want to be caught off guard by “me too” duplicate implementation.
The first step here is raising awareness, and because this is news to most people we all have some learning to do regarding this requirement. I’ll be doing some more research to educate myself so that I can better and more accurately share information. My hope is to find out how exactly professional development classes can qualify to meet this requirement and also where the rest of us can find those classes that do qualify in order to take them. I hope to share a little bit more down the road.
- Best article on WA certification I’ve read (by Maren Johnson): https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwDvDPn3MQYaRm55TVNKQU9kLTA/view?pref=2&pli=1
- WEA Certification Guide: https://www.washingtonea.org/pd/my-certification/
- WEA Informational Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/WashingtonEA
- WA OSPI (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction): http://www.k12.wa.us/
- WA OSPI STEM Overview: http://www.k12.wa.us/CareerTechEd/Requirement.aspx
- WA Professional Educator Standards Board Information: http://program.pesb.wa.gov/professional-growth-plan-pgp-t/stem-renewal
- NSTA Website: http://www.nsta.org/
- NGSS Website: http://www.nextgenscience.org/
- NBCT Website: http://www.nbpts.org/
- STEM blog post that I wrote introducing and explaining STEM: http://corelaboratewa.org/what-is-this-stem-and-when-are-we-going-to-start-doing-it-1/
I’m going to do some more research as this requirement has caught most people by surprise. However, if you know some relevant information then please feel free to share what you already know below. Also, please ask any questions that you’d like answered. Have you taken any classes that qualify under the new requirements? Do you know someone that has? Either way, how’d it go?