Certification and Licensing of Bilingual Special Education Professionals

The purpose of this memorandum is to clarify the certification and licensing requirements for bilingual special education professionals. A prerequisite for providing special education programs and services in New York State is a New York State certificate as a teacher (special education, speech and hearing handicapped, deaf and hearing impaired, or blind and partially sighted) or school psychologist, school social worker or school counselor or, in some cases, a professional license.

The State Education Department distributed this June 1997 memorandum to many organizations, including public and nonpublic school officials and administrators, providers, elected officials, hearing officers, bilingual educators, teachers, parents groups, special education professionals, and professionals in speech-language, audiology, physical therapy, and psychology.

The signers of this memorandum are the following State Education Department staff:

 

Johanna Duncan-Poitier, Associate Commissioner - Office of the Professions

Lawrence T. Waite, Coordinator - Special Education Services

Charles C. Mackey, Jr., Administrator - Teacher Certification Policy

The information which follows, in a question and answer format, clarifies the certification and licensure requirements of individuals who conduct bilingual evaluations and provide bilingual special education programs and services for children within preschool, elementary or secondary programs. Two tables summarize the credentialing requirements at both the preschool and school-age levels. It is recommended that individuals use the tables to determine specific credential requirements.

A. GENERAL

1. What are the differences between a certificate and a license?

A school certificate which is issued by the New York State Education Department's Office of Teaching is valid only for service in the certification area while employed in a school district. Licenses issued by the New York State Education Department's Office of the Professions give individuals the general authority to practice a specific profession in many settings. However, individuals who hold a professional license but not a school certificate may only practice within the school setting under special conditions.

2. What are the requirements for a New York State certificate?

In accordance with Part 80 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, requirements for teaching certificates in the State of New York include a) coursework completed in a registered program at an approved institution of higher education; b) satisfactory completion of teacher examinations; c) United States citizenship (permanent certificate) or declaration of intent to apply for U.S. citizenship (provisional certificate); and d) participation in a workshop in the identification and reporting of suspected child abuse.

3. Which special education providers hold New York State certificates? What services can these certificate holders provide?

Under Part 80 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, the New York State Education Department issues certificates in teaching, including classroom teaching, special education, school psychology, school social work and school administration among others. All salaried school staff working in these categories must hold valid teaching certificates. These teachers may provide services as employees of the school district whether they are in the school setting in which they work, or in another setting, such as an approved preschool, school district, municipality or BOCES, with which their school district has a contractual agreement to provide such services. Certified school psychologists and certified teachers of the speech and hearing handicapped may conduct evaluations and provide special education programs and services only as salaried employees of an elementary, middle or secondary school, or when employed in a salaried position in a federal, State, county or municipal agency. [ Note that the Department has construed an elementary school to include a preschool program approved in accordance with Section 4410 of the Education Law.] However, certified school psychologists may only provide services as salaried employees of chartered preschools or preschools formed under the Business Corporation Law or NPCL with consent of the Commissioner, provided that their certificate of incorporation includes the language required by Regents Rule 3.26.

A person holding only a school certificate in an area in which there also is a professional license (e.g., psychology and speech-language pathology) may only provide services related to their certification area in the school district, Board of Cooperative Educational Service (BOCES), New York State approved preschool or school-age special education program in which they are employed. A school district, chartered preschool (or preschool formed under Business Corporation Law or NPCL as indicated above), municipality or BOCES may contract with another such entity for the services of a school psychologist who is a salaried employee of such entity.

4. Which special education providers hold licenses? What services can these license holders provide?

Professional licenses are issued to psychologists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and certified social workers. Licensed psychologists may provide special education programs and services as independent contractors and conduct evaluations under certain conditions. A board of education has no general statutory authorization to contract with a licensed psychologist for the services provided by school psychologists unless so ordered by a Court of Law to ensure the timely provision of special education programs and services. As specified in statute and regulations (Section 4402 of Education Law and Section 200.4 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education), a "school psychologist" would determine the need to have a licensed psychologist conduct the psychological evaluation for a school- age student.

Individuals holding only a professional license in speech-language pathology may conduct evaluations [in a school setting] as an independent contractor but must also be certified in order to provide related services (e.g., speech). Licensed occupational therapists, physical therapists or audiologists may conduct evaluations as well as provide special education programs and services either as an independent contractor or a salaried school employee.

5. Is the required credential the same for staff providing special education programs and services to preschool and school-age students?

Generally, yes. However, staff should be aware that differences exist for certain personnel categories. Table I provides an overview of credentialing requirements at the preschool level. There are no differences for licensed occupational therapists, physical therapists or audiologists.

6. I have a teaching license from New York City Public Schools. Is this license valid for service elsewhere?

No. Staff employed by the City School District of Buffalo or the City of New York must hold a license issued by the city in which they are employed. This license is only valid within that district. Staff holding only a New York City or Buffalo license may only work outside their school district in an approved preschool, school district, municipality or BOCES with which the school district which employs them has a contract.

7. What specific certification requirements are needed for bilingual service providers?

Bilingual special education service providers must hold a New York State certificate as indicated above with a bilingual education extension to that certificate. The bilingual education extension attests to the fact that the holder has completed additional coursework in bilingual education in a program registered to provide these courses and has successfully demonstrated proficiency in English and the target language on the language proficiency assessments (LPAs). If employed by New York City or Buffalo, the individual must also hold a bilingual license issued by New York City or Buffalo (for service in those districts).

8. How do I receive New York State certification with a bilingual extension?

There are three ways an individual can obtain a certificate valid for service in the State of New York. Candidates may a) complete an approved program and upon completion of the program be recommended to the New York State Education Department by the institution of higher education for certification; b) complete coursework at various institutions with approved programs and submit coursework transcripts for review by the Department; or c) request reciprocity because the individual holds a certificate from a State or territory which is party to the New York State reciprocity agreement. In all cases, the candidate must complete such requirements as teacher examinations and language proficiency examinations.


Before enrolling, candidates should verify that the institution of higher education offers a registered program leading to certification in the area in which they seek certification (e.g., teacher of the speech and hearing handicapped with a bilingual extension or teacher of special education with a bilingual extension). Courses taken at institutions of higher education in New York State which are not registered by the New York State Education Department for that particular preparatory program will not be credited for certification.

9. Can I work in schools before I have an appropriate certificate or license?

If a school district, approved private school, BOCES or municipality is unable to locate an appropriately certified teacher, an application may be made to the Department for approval of a temporary license which will allow the program to temporarily employ an uncertified teacher (8 NYCRR 80.18). The temporary license, which can only be requested by the school district, approved private school, BOCES or municipality employing the uncertified teacher, is granted for one year and is renewable for five additional years while the individual is completing requirements for certification in the area. The temporary license is renewed contingent on the individual's completion of at least six semester hours of study annually toward certification at a registered institution of higher education.

Temporary bilingual education extension licenses can also be granted to those individuals who hold a certificate in school psychology, school counseling and school social work.

10. I am proficient in a language other than English and have been working with bilingual children under a State certificate, e.g., special education. Am I required to take additional coursework?

Language proficiency alone does not qualify an individual to provide bilingual services. Employers and service providers must comply with all relevant licensing and certification requirements.

A person may ascertain whether they require additional coursework or other examinations for certification by applying to the New York State Education Department for the bilingual education certificate extension. If the candidate has completed all requirements, s/he will receive the certificate. In all other cases, the candidate will receive a statement specifying the deficiency (ies).

Some candidates may receive credit for coursework completed for certificates received in other States or territories; however, this determination can only be made through formal application to the New York State Education Department. Holders of out-of-state certificates are required to apply for a certificate from the New York State Education Department and successfully complete all teacher examinations and, in the case of the bilingual education extension, language proficiency assessments. A certificate or license issued by another State, territory or country does not automatically qualify an individual to provide services in New York State.

11. How do I demonstrate my proficiency in a language other than English so that I can be certified as a bilingual provider?

As of September 2, 1995, candidates for New York State bilingual education extension certificates may demonstrate proficiency in English and the target language only by successfully completing the Language Proficiency Assessments (LPAs) administered by the National Evaluation Systems under contract with the New York State Education Department. The only exception to this provision is the candidate who has made formal application to the New York State Education Department for a bilingual extension of a teaching certificate prior to September 2, 1995. He/she may satisfy the language proficiency requirement by successfully completing a language proficiency examination administered by an institution of higher education approved for this purpose. All candidates must successfully complete a language proficiency assessment in both English and the target language.

B. SPEECH SERVICE

1. As a certified teacher of the speech and hearing handicapped, must I hold a license as a speech-language pathologist to conduct bilingual speech evaluations and provide bilingual speech services as an independent contractor?

Yes.

2. As a licensed speech-language language pathologist, what credentials do I need to conduct bilingual evaluations and provide bilingual speech services as an independent contractor?

A licensed speech-language pathologist may conduct bilingual evaluations as an independent contractor or as an employee of a preschool. A speech-language pathologist who holds only a license is not required by licensing law to have completed additional bilingual coursework or demonstrated proficiency in English or the language in which the evaluation is being conducted. Agencies contracting with a licensed speech-language pathologist may require additional preparation as a pre condition to his/her contractual agreement. Such agencies may consider minimally requiring that a contractor successfully complete the National Evaluation Systems Language Proficiency Assessments (LPAs).

Speech-language pathologists who provide services to children based on their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) must be certified as Teachers of the Speech and Hearing Handicapped regardless of whether they are employees or independent contractors. [The requirement for a license and a certificate also applies to Related Service Agreements (RSAs) with New York City Public Schools].

3. I am a licensed speech-language pathologist. I would like to work as an employee of a board of education and serve school-age students. What credentials do I need to conduct bilingual evaluations and provide bilingual speech services?

A speech-language pathologist must hold a certificate as a teacher of the speech and hearing handicapped with a bilingual education extension to provide bilingual evaluation and speech services as an employee of a board of education serving school-age students.

4. I am a licensed speech-language pathologist. I would like to work as an employee of an approved preschool. What credentials do I need to conduct bilingual evaluations and provide bilingual speech services?

A salaried employee of an approved preschool program must hold a certificate as a teacher of the speech and hearing handicapped with a bilingual extension to provide speech services. However, an individual may be employed to provide bilingual evaluations while holding only a license as a speech-language pathologist.

C. PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICE

1. I am a licensed psychologist. What credentials do I need to conduct a bilingual psychological evaluation as an independent contractor?

A licensed psychologist may conduct bilingual evaluations of and provide special education programs and services to preschool students as an independent contractor with no further credential. However, for school-age students, a board of education has no general statutory authorization to contract with a licensed psychologist for the services provided by school psychologists unless so ordered by a Court of Law to ensure the timely provision of special education programs and services. As specified in statute and regulations (Section 4402 of Education Law and Section 200.4 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education), a school psychologist would determine the need to conduct a psychological evaluation of a school-age student. Such a determination is based on an assessment performed by a school psychologist as described in the memorandum "Procedures for the Determination of the Need to Administer Psychological Evaluations" (September 1995).

A psychologist who holds only a license is not required by Education Law to have completed additional bilingual education coursework or demonstrated proficiency in English or the language in which the evaluation is being conducted. Agencies contracting with a licensed psychologist may require additional preparation as a pre condition to his/her contractual agreement such as successful completion of the National Evaluation Systems Language Proficiency Assessments (LPAs).

2. I am a certified school psychologist. What credentials do I need to conduct bilingual psychological evaluations and provide bilingual psychological services as a school employee?

The school psychologist must hold a bilingual education extension of his/her school psychology certificate to conduct bilingual evaluations and provide bilingual special education programs and services as a salaried employee of a public or nonpublic elementary or secondary school or appropriately chartered nonpublic school or chartered preschool. A school district may contract with another school district or BOCES for the use of a bilingual school psychologist.
D. SOCIAL WORK

1. I am a certified social worker. What is required for certification as a school social worker?

There are no further coursework requirements for a school certificate. Individuals must apply for a New York State certificate as a school social worker.

E. FURTHER INFORMATION

1. Who should I contact to receive teacher certification information?

Individuals may request an application for a New York State certificate by writing to: New York State Education Department, Office of Teaching, Cultural Education Center, Albany, New York 12230. Information may be obtained on certification by calling (518) 474-3901 or through the worldwide web: http://www.nysed.gov/tcert/homepage/htm Information on New York State Teacher Certification Examinations can be obtained from National Evaluation Systems at (413) 256-2882.

2. Who should I contact to receive bilingual special education program information?

Information may be obtained by contacting the New York State Education Department Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) at (518) 486-7462.

3. Who should I contact to receive licensing information?

Information may be obtained by contacting the New York State Education Department Office of the Professions at (518) 374-3862 or through the worldwide web address: http://www.nysed.gov/prof/profhome.htm
Table 1
CREDENTIALS REQUIRED FOR
BILINGUAL SERVICES IN A K-12 SCHOOL SETTING

OR A PRESCHOOL PROGRAM IN A SCHOOL DISTRICT

TYPE OF CREDENTIAL EVALUATIONS SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS

AND SERVICES (see Note 1)

License School Certificate Approved Preschool or Evaluation Site Employment Contract Service Approved Preschool Employment Contract Service
Psychologist                  X (see Note 2)   X (see Note3)
  School Psychologist with Bilingual Education Extension             X (see Note 4)         X (see Note 4)  
Speech language Pathologist                       X    
  Teacher of Speech and Hearing Handicapped with Bilingual Education Extension              X (see Note 4)        X (see Note 4)  X (see Note 4)
Social Worker (CSW)                       X         
Social Worker (CSW):School Social Worker with Bilingual Education Extension              X        X         X   X
Audiologist                X         X          X   X
Occupational Therapist                X         X          X   X
Physical Therapist               X         X           X   X


Footnotes for Table 1

1. Special education programs and services mean specially designed individualized or group instruction or special services or programs, as defined in subdivision 2 of section 4401 of the Education Law, provided at no cost to the parent, to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities.

2. A licensed psychologist may only be contracted to conduct an evaluation pursuant to 8NYCRR 200.4 (b) if referred by a school psychologist after an assessment or to conduct an independent evaluation pursuant to 8NYCRR 200.1 and 200.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.

3. A licensed psychologist may be used only under special circumstances, e.g., under a court order.

4. Personnel holding only school certification may provide services as salaried employees of the school district whether they are in the school setting in which they work, or in another setting, such as an approved preschool, school district, municipality, or BOCES, with which their school district has a contractual agreement to provide such services.

5. Personnel holding only school certification may provide programs and services of "specially designed instruction" in another setting, such as an approved preschool, school district, municipality, or BOCES as an independent provider.

Table 2
CREDENTIALS FOR THE PROVISION OF BILINGUAL SERVICES
TO PRESCHOOL STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES IN
PROGRAMS NOT ADMINISTERED BY SCHOOL DISTRICTS

TYPE OF CREDENTIAL EVALUATIONS SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS

AND SERVICES (see Note 1)

License School Certificate Approved Preschool or Evaluation Site Employment Contract Service Approved Preschool Employment Contract Service
Psychologist               X     X      X X
  School Psychologist with Bilingual Education Extension             X (see Note 2)         X (see Note 2)  
Speech language Pathologist               X         X    
  Teacher of Speech and Hearing Handicapped with Bilingual Education Extension              X (see Note 3)        X  X (see Note 4)
Social Worker (CSW)               X        X          X        X
Social Worker (CSW):School Social Worker with Bilingual Education Extension              X        X         X   X
Audiologist                X         X          X   X
Occupational Therapist                X         X          X   X
Physical Therapist               X         X           X   X

Footnotes for Table 2

1. Special education programs and services mean specially designed individualized or group instruction or special services or programs, as defined in subdivision 2 of section 4401 of the Education Law, provided at no cost to the parent, to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities.

2. A school psychologist may be employed by a municipality or a chartered preschool or preschool formed under the Business Corporation Law or NPCL with consent of the Commissioner, provided that their certificate of incorporation includes the language required by Regents Rule 3.26. Staff employed under these conditions may provide services in another setting, such as an approved preschool, municipality, school district or BOCES, with which their agency has a contractual agreement to provide such services.

3. Personnel holding only school certification may conduct evaluations as employees of the approved preschool program whether they are in the school setting in which they work, or in another setting, such as an approved preschool, school district, BOCES or municipality with which their employer has a contractual agreement to provide such services.

4. Personnel holding only school certification may provide programs and services of "specially designed instruction" as an independent provider.