Grove City College Education Department and Pennsylvania
Thank you for considering attending Grove City College. One of the most frequent questions we
receive regarding our program is, “What certifications do you offer?” We find that in addition to seeking
basic information about what certifications are offered here at Grove City College, students and families
also have questions about whether certification received in Pennsylvania can easily transfer into other
states, and on a more personal level, how students can determine which certification is right for them.
Certifications offered at Grove City College:
Let me begin by explaining the certifications that are offered at Grove City College. To explain
this thoroughly, it is first necessary to provide you with some information about Pennsylvania
certification in general. Here in the state of Pennsylvania there are several broad categories to
certification. First, there are areas that are considered certifications for typical classroom teacher roles.
These are licensures that can be acquired with an undergraduate degree in education. Additionally,
there are other certifications that can only be acquired through graduate study and sometimes also
carry with them requirements of years of successful teaching. For example, reading specialist
certifications require graduate school, and administrative certificates require both graduate work and
years of successful teaching requirements.
Over the past two years the state of Pennsylvania has reorganized some of the grade levels and
requirements for certifications. Previously Pennsylvania had certifications for the elementary levels
which included an early childhood license (birth through grade 3) and an elementary certificate that
covered grades K-6. Nationally, there is recognition that the competencies needed to teach a primary
aged elementary student are different than the needs of adolescent learners. In response to this
increased awareness on the distinctive needs of both young students and adolescents the state of
Pennsylvania established the PreK-4 and the Middle Level certificates. PreK-4 is designed to prepare
educators for elementary and early childhood level students, where the middle level is designed for
upper elementary and middle/junior high aged students in grades 4-8.
Another change in the certificate organization by Pennsylvania relates to the area of special
education. The state of Pennsylvania previously recognized certificates in the area of special education
as a “stand alone” license. This meant that those with this certificate did not need to hold any other
certifications in conjunction with their license in special education. Due to the increasing emphasis for
students with special needs to meet high standards and for special education services to be partnered in
collaboration with teachers in regular class settings changes also occurred to the special education
certificate. New regulations require that individuals who wish to obtain a special education certificate
must pair it with another certification area. Additionally, all certification areas must now offer
additional preparation in how to meet the needs of special needs learners and students with limited
English proficiency. These changes are meant to ensure that all teachers are better prepared to help all
students succeed in school.
Because Grove City College is an undergraduate institution we only offer those certificates which
can be completed at an undergraduate level. The certifications offered here at Grove City College
include the following:
Prekindergarten through Grade 4 (many other states would refer to this level as an
Middle Level (Grades 4-8)
K-12 Foreign Language (Spanish, French)
K-12 Environmental Education
Secondary (Grades 7-12) in
o English and Communications
o General Science
o Social Studies
Special Education K-8* (Must be paired with a Prekindergarten through grade 4 certification)
It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list of all undergraduate certifications offered in
Pennsylvania. This list represents those areas of licensure for which Grove City College is approved to
provide certifications, and those areas for which we have submitted plans to be approved for new
You may be wondering why Grove City needs to submit plans for new certifications. As mentioned
above, the state of Pennsylvania reorganized some certification areas. With these changes the state has
a responsibility to ensure that all colleges and universities are creating programs of study that reflect the
competencies needed for the new PreK-4 certificate, the Middle Level certificate, and the Special
Education certificate. As such, all colleges and universities in Pennsylvania are required to gain approval
for these new certification requirements. As you explore your choices in higher education you may find
a few institutions that began offering the newly re-organized certificates for the incoming class of 2009.
The vast majority of institutions (about two thirds of the colleges and universities in Pennsylvania) have
waited to submit their plans for the reorganized certificates until this year, and are doing so during
2009. Like many of our colleagues at other institutions we will be going through the process of
submitting our materials to the state for approval of these reorganized certification areas.
A few other comments regarding the certificate may be helpful. Here at Grove City College, if
students wish to seek a special education certificate we are asking all students to pair the certificate
with the PreK-4 certificate. Why? As mentioned previously, special education certificates must be
paired with other certification areas. We believe that the developmental needs of students that are
studied as part of elementary education courses will complement the specialized knowledge of
exceptional learners’ development quite well. We do not offer a secondary certificate paired with
special education. If you are interested in secondary education and you are also interested in special
education rest assured that you will have some classes here that will equip you to meet the special
needs of students in your classroom, yet to receive a license in special education would require
substantially more coursework.
Finally, some special commentary may be helpful regarding the middle level certification. This
certification is offered in grades 4-8, and colleges which offer such licensure can approach the middle
level in two ways. The first model is one in which the program of studies reflects one subject area of
specialization. The second model is one in which the program of studies reflects two areas of
specialization. Here at Grove City middle level certifications will focus on two areas of specialization.
Why? Our liberal arts tradition embraces a philosophy that students should be well rounded in their
studies. Due to our liberal arts core classes and other general education requirements students already
have many courses in history, science, and English. Thus, some of the middle level competencies to
teach in two subject areas are already embedded in our general education requirements. Further, by
taking into account our general education requirements we have more flexibility in offering specialized
courses in the pedagogy needed to successfully meet the needs of students in grades 4-8. Finally, very
few teachers who instruct students in the lower grades of this certificate (grades 4, 5, and 6) are
completely departmentalized in one subject area. Simply stated, we believe in a balance of preparation
that is strong in both content and in methodology for teachers who call to work with adolescents.
If I received a certificate in Pennsylvania can I easily transfer into other states?
Pennsylvania enjoys an interstate mobility agreement known as the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement.
This agreement between 47 states and the District of Columbia acknowledges that a teacher license in
one region is sufficient for a teacher license in another region. Historically Pennsylvania has enjoyed
outstanding portability of teaching credentials. Several factors contribute to this recognition. First, in
Pennsylvania college students are not eligible to receive a certificate unless they maintain a 3.0 grade
point average. Across the country other states appreciate this provision which ensures that graduates
from Pennsylvania have mastered their college coursework. Additionally, almost all states require new
teacher candidates to take exams called the Praxis. The content of the Praxis is similar across the
country. However, each state may set standards for the particular sections of the Praxis that are
required of teachers, and the “cut score” for each test. Nationally Pennsylvania has one of the highest
cut scores for the Praxis. In other words, candidates must perform better on the Praxis to pass in
Pennsylvania than in other regions. Again, other states recognize the quality of teachers from
Pennsylvania. Finally, Pennsylvania has a long tradition of producing outstanding educators. All of these
factors combine to create a climate nationally where the Pennsylvania certificate is highly portable.
From time to time some states require some additional coursework, or have different sub-tests of
the Praxis that are required for their teaching license. Here at Grove City we are fortunate to have the
services of a Certification Officer and a full time Career Services Associate who can help students
navigate state requirements. In fact, our Career Services Associate sits on many regional boards and is
active in national organizations that focus on the career development and recruitment of education
majors. With the skills of these individuals within our Department students may work with them
throughout their educational experience at Grove City – from freshmen year to graduation and beyond
to help them navigate requirements in different states for certification and hiring purposes.
While on the subject of carrying the Pennsylvania certificate into other states you may find our
emphasis on career development for education majors helpful. Perhaps underlying your questions
about licensure in other states is the question, “Will I have trouble finding a job where I want to live?”
We are so fortunate to have a full time associate who helps our students with their career questions and
concerns. Far more than helping our students find that initial teaching job; our career services program
takes a developmental view of the pathway from college to career. Services and programs are offered
throughout the college experience so that even freshmen can begin exploring the different options and
opportunities they have within the broad field of education. Our Career Associate helps our students
find internships and summer employment to help them gain both experience and explore their options.
Guest speakers in unique careers, graduate school and other related education areas are featured
through this office. Additionally, career services such as assistance with resumes, mock interviews, and
help with networking offer our students outstanding support as they consider their career options. For
more information please visit our Education Career Services website at
How to determine which certification is right for you?
It can be difficult as a high school junior or senior to determine which area of education to study.
With all the options available deciding on one area can be a challenge. One of the things you can do
now, as a high school student, is to seek out experiences with children and youth. Volunteering as a
tutor in your school or being involved in youth sports or church activities are all excellent ways to
determine which level of maturity you enjoy working with. Likewise, having conversations with subject
area teachers can help students considering more than one secondary area to determine different
Fortunately the education courses for our freshmen students are broadly PreK-12 based. These
important initial courses will help you begin your journey as an educator, and begin to gain experience
understanding the needs and working with students of different ages. We have found this design of
common coursework at the beginning of a college education experience allows students greater
flexibility if they should decide to change majors later. In addition to assistance from professors and
experiences in courses summer employment and internships are quite helpful to students as they
determine the certification area that is right for them.
Another question that arises related to selecting certifications relates to dual majors. From time to
time students inquire as to the possibility of completing a double major here at Grove City and
becoming certified in more than one area, such as a PreK-4 combined with a K-12 Spanish degree. We
have had students complete dual majors in the past, and we expect to have students complete dual
majors in the future! Yet, doing so takes very carefully scheduling, and in some cases one additional
semester or more may be needed in order to complete both programs.
Beyond articulating the certifications offered here at Grove City College I would also like to take a
moment to emphasize that becoming a teacher is far more than receiving a license to teach. We
combine dynamic preparation in a program with dedicated professors and outstanding fellow students.
Such an approach creates a climate does more than merely result in a license—a preparation at Grove
City creates a calling to teach. Whether our graduates go on to use their gifts in public, private, national,
or international schools we believe in preparing our students to make a difference in the lives of their
students in classrooms everywhere. While education can be a challenging career, the rewards are
tremendous. Here at Grove City we endeavor to offer an exceptional program of studies for all our
education majors, in so doing we expect our graduates to be exceptional educators.