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FAQ: Student Teaching

  • Q: What are the deadlines to apply for student teaching?

    Your student teaching is based on when you are formally admitted to the Educator Preparation Program (after successfully completing all Level I courses). Therefore, it is extremely important when planning your student teaching that you adhere to the following deadlines.

    Student teaching timeline Level I completion & acceptance to Level II
    January/March August 1st of previous year
    August/October January 1st of that year

    If you want a student teaching assignment for Fall (August or October), you must be admitted to Level II by January 1st so that your placement can be considered before schools close for the summer and to meet Rio Salado College's Term Block Calendar Requirements.

    If you want an assignment for Spring (January or March), you must be admitted to Level II by August 1st of the prior year to allow sufficient time for placement. Rio Salado competes with other colleges and universities for student teaching placements, so it is important to give the schools/districts sufficient time to identify an appropriate placement for you. Exceptions to these dates are sometimes made, but this diminishes the chances that you will receive the placement you desire.

    Even if you meet these time requirements, Rio Salado cannot guarantee that a placement will be available with your choice of district, school, grade level and/or teacher. Changes to your original request can be made if submitted by these timelines.

  • Q: Why do I have to student teach?

    The most effective method for theory to become practice is by spending time in a classroom under the guidance of an experienced teacher. Rio Salado College teacher candidates will spend nine-weeks (or more depending on state or school district requirements), full-time in a school setting in an effort to take what has been learned and make it applicable to the "real world" of teaching. This experience will consist of observation, working one-on-one with students, teaching small groups, and gradually taking responsibility for teaching an entire day and having complete responsibility of a classroom.

  • Q: Who is eligible to student teach?

    Rio Salado College students must meet the following requirements to be eligible for student teaching:

    *Be formally admitted to Level II of Rio Salado's Educator Education Program at least six months prior to student teaching.

    *Complete ALL Level I and Level II courses with a grade of B or better. Grades must be posted to your college record at least two weeks prior to the student teaching assignment date. If you transfer education course credits from another institution to Rio Salado, you must still apply to the program, meet all requirements and complete a minimum of 12 educator education credits at Rio Salado College before you are eligible for student teaching placement.

    *Complete ALL Level II courses by the Term Block Calendar end date. All Level II courses must be completed by the Block Calendar end date. Course end date extensions beyond the end date of the block will not be permitted. Requesting a course end date extension for your remaining Level II courses will jeopardize your student teaching assignment. In addition, Rio Salado College will be unable to register you for your student teaching course until your Block End date has passed for your remaining Level II coursework. Read more about Rio Salado's block calendar.

    *Have a passing score report for the appropriate Subject Knowledge AEPA exam at least two weeks prior to student teaching. This requires that your test date is at least six weeks prior to your projected student teaching start date. Please list Rio Salado as a recipient so that your scores are sent electronically to us when they are available. Since the exams are scheduled only six times each year, you must plan ahead to schedule the AEPA exams. Information and registration is available at

    If you live outside of Arizona and are applying directly to the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) for a teaching certificate, ADE will accept comparable state exams. Please click here and select your state for comparable Subject Knowledge exams.

    If you will be completing the Praxis Exam, please list Rio Salado College as an approved recipient of your test scores. The Rio Salado College Praxis Code is #4032.

  • Q: How do I make my student teaching request?

    Your student teaching request is part of the Formal Admissions application. Once you have received your letter of admission to Level II, the request is forwarded to the Field Experience Coordinator. Allow yourself sufficient time to complete your Level II courses. The courses in Level II are more complex than those in Level I, and in most cases, they require practicum hours. Practicum hours cannot be scheduled during the summer months when schools are not in session, which may add time to your course completion if you do not plan ahead. For example, it may not be realistic to expect to student teach in January if you are not formally admitted to the program until August.

  • Q: How long is my student teaching assignment?

    Rio Salado's approved programs require a minimum nine-week student teaching component for most certifications areas. Nine-week student teaching placements usually parallel a school grading period or quarter. Some schools/districts and/or states require 12-18 weeks of student teaching. Variations in the length of student teaching may also be dictated by ADE requirements for certification.

  • Q: Can I begin student teaching whenever I want?

    Student teaching assignments ideally coincide with a school quarter. In most Arizona schools, quarters begin in August, October, January and March. Because most Arizona schools do not offer a regular nine-week quarter in the summer months, Arizona summer placements are not available.

  • Q: How much does student teaching cost?

    Costs for student teaching include:
    * Tuition for the required credit hours (usually 8 credits, but varies by certification requirements in your content area). $85. Out-of-state, out-of county tuition is higher. Please see the Tuition and Fees page for more details.
    *Stipend for the cooperating teacher and/or college supervisor (2011-2012 student pays $450).
    *Registration fee (for 2011-2012) is $15.

  • Q: What does the Field Experience Coordinator do?

    The Field Experience Coordinator (FEC) is available to answer questions about the student teaching process and to assist you with an appropriate placement. The FEC contacts schools/districts to make formal placement requests for all the student teacher candidates for the next semester. When your placement is confirmed by the school/district, the FEC verifies that the proposed placement matches your certification/content area requirements, enrolls you in the appropriate student teaching course and then informs you of the details of your student teaching assignment. The FEC verifies you have met all requirements prior to your start date, and cancels your placement if you have not. At the completion of your student teaching, the FEC completes your Institutional Recommendation.

  • Q: What if I want to teach in middle grades?

    Students who want to teach in middle grades may choose to be certified as either Elementary or Secondary teachers, and then add on Middle Grade endorsement. If you seek a Secondary certificate, you are eligible to teach grades 7/8 in the content area (Math, Language Arts/Reading, Science or Social Studies) that matches your passing score in an AEPA secondary content area. To be highly qualified to teach grades 5/6, a secondary teacher must also pass the Middle Grades AEPA. If you seek an Elementary certificate, you must pass the Elementary Subject Knowledge AEPA first and then add a middle school endorsement by passing the middle grades AEPA in your preferred content. Passing scores on all these exams are required prior to student teaching in middle grades.

  • Q: What if there is no AEPA exam in my content area?

    In secondary subject areas where no AEPA exam is available, your official transcripts must confirm that you have 24 credit hours in your content area (examples include Physical Education, Dance, Drama, Computer Science, General Science, Earth Science). The Field Experience Coordinator can review your transcript for content coursework. However, the official decision on whether you meet subject knowledge requirements is determined not by Rio, but by the ADE when you apply for certification.

  • Q: What if the AEPA is not offered in my state?

    AEPA exams are offered in several locations outside Arizona. However, you may be able to substitute a passing score from teacher exams in your state. You must verify ahead of time which exams might be accepted in lieu of the AEPA by conferring with a Rio Salado academic advisor or the Field Experience Coordinator. It is the student's responsibility to provide Rio Salado College with passing score reports from out-of-state exams at least two weeks prior to student teaching.

  • Q: What if I plan to student teach in a state other than Arizona?

    Students who request to complete their student teaching assignment outside of Arizona must identify a contact at the school or district where you wish to student teach. In many instances, a school district in another state will require that an agreement be in place outlining the responsibilities of each institution. If this agreement requires approval of the school governing body, this can require additional time. Many districts give placement priority to students from local colleges. All of these issues require that additional time be allowed to request a student teaching placement outside of Arizona.

  • Q: What if I live outside the United States?

    Foreign schools must be approved by Rio Salado College, and the cooperating teaching must hold a U.S. teaching certificate. Preference is given to schools accredited by an approved regional American accrediting body. You must provide Rio Salado College with the name, website and accrediting information for the requested school for approval.

  • Q: What if I want to student teach at a Department of Defense Dependents School?

    If you want to student teach in a Department of Defense Dependents School (DoDDS), you must follow their requirements. Your student teaching request must be by submitted on a DoDDS form, and sent to Rio Salado College for signature. DoDDS applications and information are available here.

    DoDDS applications are due April 30th for fall placements, and October 31st for spring placements. Please note that you cannot be a paid government employee while you are student teaching.

  • Q: What if I want to change my student teaching request?

    If you have not already been placed in a student teaching assignment, you can complete the request form again and send it to the Rio Salado Field Experience Coordinator. Please submit an update as soon as you identify that you want to select a later start date or a different district, school, grade or teacher from your original request.

  • Q: What if I do not meet student teaching requirements prior to my student teaching start date?

    If you are placed for a student teaching assignment and do not meet eligibility requirements in time (all courses must have grades posted and your passing AEPA scores must be received at least two weeks prior to the start of your student teaching), Rio Salado will cancel your student teaching placement . You will be assessed a $100 rescheduling fee and you must reapply for a new placement in a later semester.

  • Q: What if I have to cancel my student teaching placement?

    If you cancel or decline your student teaching placement after your placement has been approved by a school/district, you will be charged a $100 rescheduling fee. If you cancel or decline a placement, you are not guaranteed the opportunity to teach in the same district or with the same cooperating teacher as you originally requested.

  • Q: What if I want to apply for teacher certification in a state other than Arizona?

    Although Rio Salado College has reciprocity teacher certification agreements with most other states in the U.S. through NASDTEC (see, it is not possible to keep abreast of current teacher certification requirements in all other states. If you plan to apply for teacher certification in another state, it is up to you to carefully research their requirements and make certain that the state approved Educator Preparation Program from Rio Salado College will satisfy these requirements. Requests for verification of program completion are often required by other states (similar to an IR). If you have met Rio's program requirements (including student teaching), you can send these requests to the Field Experience Coordinator at Rio Salado College. Allow at least two weeks for these to be completed.

  • Q: What if I cannot quit my job to complete my student teaching prior to going to NCU?

    As a student, you will have the option of transferring to NCU before completing a student teaching experience.

  • Q: How can I learn more about student teaching?

    A student teaching Orientation is presented prior to each semester. This workshop is an opportunity to learn about the requirements and expectations associated with your student teaching experience. Attendance is required for local students. A DVD of the orientation is available for students living outside of Maricopa County, AZ. You can also contact the Field Experience Coordinator at to discuss your questions.

  • Q: What are some common terms associated with student teaching?

    ADE - Arizona Department of Education – The mission of the ADE is "to ensure academic excellence for all students." The Arizona Department of Education operates under the direction of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to provide direct services to approximately 2,107 schools in 238 locally governed school districts and 457 charter schools. These schools serve over 1,000,000 students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The agency executes the policies of the State Board of Education and the State Board of Vocational and Technological Education - implementing state academic standards; administering statewide assessments; disseminating information; administering and allocating federal and state funds; and providing program improvement assistance to schools and districts.

    The Teacher Certification department is part of ADE. It's Mission: "To certify qualified persons as education professionals who provide high quality education and to protect the safety and welfare of Arizona's students." Program description: The certification subprogram consistently and accurately enforces the State Board of Education rules and regulations and state statutes governing the certification of professional educators in the state. For more information see

    AEPA - Arizona Educators Proficiency Assessment – The exams required by the Arizona Department of Education for teacher certification. One assesses your content knowledge, the other your professional knowledge. Find more information on the ADE website or at

    CT - Cooperating Teacher – A teaching professional who is the teacher of record in the classroom and who supports you through your student teaching experience. The CT allows you the opportunity to learn from and work in his/her classroom, provides you constructive feedback about your teaching skills and strategies, and offers you suggestions and ideas to help you succeed in the teaching profession.

    CS - College Supervisor – A teaching professional hired by Rio Salado College to support and evaluate your student teaching experience. The CS is the link to the college for you and the cooperating teacher. He/She can clarify Rio Salado's expectations, mediate any conflicts that may arise and submit the official documents required for course completion.

    EL - Education Liaison – Personnel at Rio Salado College, who hire, train and support the College Supervisors.

    FEC - Field Experience Coordinator – Individual at Rio Salado College who contacts the districts/schools to arrange student teaching placements for students in the Post Baccalaureate Educator Preparation Program.

    IR - Institutional Recommendation – A document that serves as your application for your provisional teacher certification. The IR verifies you have met teacher certification requirements in a state approved program without requiring you to provide transcript copies to the ADE. The IR saves you both time and money in the certification process—you pay a reduced fee for your certificate and can get same day certification if you go in person to the ADE. This is available to you within two weeks following completion of your student teaching assignment and Rio Salado's receipt of the documentation from your College Supervisor.

    STAI - Student Teaching Assessment Instrument – The tool developed by Rio Salado College for your formal performance evaluation at three different stages in your student teaching experience.