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FAQ: Student Teaching

Q: How can I learn more about student teaching?

The term prior to your anticipated student teaching start date,you are required to enroll in EDO100-102 – Student Teaching Orientation. This course is a non-credit course with a $35.00 course fee. The online orientation is an opportunity to learn about the requirements and expectations associated with the student teaching experience. Additional questions may also be addressed to the EDO100-102 course Instructor or to the Field Experience Coordinator at student.teaching@riosalado.edu.

Q: Definitions for Commonly Used Student Teaching Language:
  • ADE - Arizona Department of Education – The mission of the ADE is to serve Arizona’s education community, ensuring every child has access to an excellent education. 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 Educator Certification department is part of ADE. Its Mission: To certify qualified persons as education professionals who provide high quality education and to protect the safety and welfare of Arizona's students. 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: www.azed.gov/educator-certification/
  • Arizona Educator Assessments (AEA) -State mandated exams required by the Arizona Department of Education for teacher certification. There are two exams required for certification: 1)Subject Knowledge – measures content knowledge of a specific subject area as defined by the Arizona Academic Standards; 2) Professional Knowledge - measures pedagogical knowledge and skills. Find more information on the ADE website or at www.aepa.nesinc.com
  • Supervising Practitioner (SP) –an appropriately certified educator, currently employed by a local education agency, private agency or other PreK-12 setting who supervises the candidate during a student teaching capstone experience. The Rio Salado SP is:
    • adequately trained by RSC for their work as a SP and
    • must hold a minimum of three years of teaching experience and
    • a current classification as a highly effective classroom teacher

The SP is expected to support the student teacher throughout the capstone experience and provide opportunities for the student to learn from and work in his/her classroom, provide constructive feedback about teaching skills and strategies, and offer suggestions and ideas to help teacher candidates succeed in the teaching profession.

  • Program Supervisor (PS) - an educator from the professional preparation institution who oversees a teacher candidate’s progress during a capstone experience/student teaching. The program supervisor’s professional work experience must be relevant to the certification the candidate is seeking. Rio’s program supervisors will assist to clarify program expectations, mediate conflicts and submit all pertinent evaluation paperwork related to the student teaching experience.
  • Education Liaison (EL) – Personnel at Rio Salado College, who hire, train and support the Program Supervisors.
  • Field Experience Coordinator (FEC)– Personnel at Rio Salado College who contact the districts/schools to coordinate student teaching placements for teacher candidates in Rio Salado College’s Educator Preparation Programs. When a placement is confirmed by the school/district, the FEC verifies that the proposed placement matches the certification/content area requirements, enrolls the teacher candidate in the appropriate student teaching course and then informs the teacher candidate of the details of the student teaching assignment. The FEC also alerts the Education Liaisons to assign a Program Supervisor. The Field Experience Coordinator verifies all requirements have been met prior to the placement start date and cancels the placement if they have not. At the completion of the student teaching, the FEC completes your Institutional Recommendation.
  • Institutional Recommendation (IR)* – A document that serves as your application for your provisional teaching certificate. The IR verifies teacher certification requirements have been met in a state-approved program without requiring the teacher candidate to provide official transcripts to the ADE. The IR saves the teacher candidate both time and money in the certification process, reducing the fee for your certification and same-day certification if you go in-person to the ADE. This is available to you following completion of your student teaching assignment and Rio’s receipt of the documentation from your Program Supervisor.
    • *Individuals who do NOT complete student teaching through Rio Salado College are not eligible for an Institutional Recommendation and will not be considered a Program Completer.
    • *North central University Bachelor Degree Partnership students will have their Institutional Recommendations issued to them by North central University after completion of all Rio Salado College and North central University coursework requirements.
  • Student Teaching - a minimum of 12-weeks of rigorous field-based experiences, appropriate for the certificate the candidate is seeking,performed under the direction of a Supervising Practitioner and a Program Supervisor. The student teaching placement must be appropriate for the certification and content the applicant is seeking.
  • Student Teaching Assessment Tool (STAT) - The tool developed by Rio Salado’s Educator Preparation Program which is utilized throughout the different stages of the student teaching experience.
  • Response to Intervention (RTI) - A process of determining appropriate support, academic or behavioral interventions to supplement the curriculum and meet the needs of all learners. Through the RTI process, important educational decisions about teacher candidates can be made using a problem-solving philosophy that involves strategic decision making. These decisions are based on data regarding achievement both academically and behaviorally. It provides an overview of the teacher candidate’s past coursework, behavior and overall performance in any of Rio Salado's state approved educator education programs.
  • Local Education Association (LEA) - A commonly used synonym for a school district. It can also be used in reference to a private or charter school system.
Q: Why 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 a minimum of 12- 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 in Rio Salado coursework 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 the entire day and having complete responsibility for a classroom.

Q: How early do I need to be formally admitted to Level II for my student teaching request to be considered?

If you want a student teaching assignment for:

    • Fall (August or September), you must be admitted to Level II by January 1st of that year so that your placement can be considered before schools close for the summer and to meet block calendar requirements.
    • Spring (January or February) you must be admitted to Level II by August 1st of the prior year to allow enough time for the placement.

It is important to give each LEA sufficient time to identify an appropriate student teaching placement. Even if you meet these time requirements, Rio 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.

Student Teach in Fall (August or September) – teacher candidate must be admitted by January 1st of that year
Student Teach in Spring(January or February) – teacher candidate must admitted by August 1st of prior year

Q: Who is eligible to student teach?

Rio teacher candidates must meet the following requirements to be eligible for student teaching:

    • Be formally admitted to Level II of Rio Salado’s Educator Preparation Program at least six months prior to student teaching. Teacher candidates are encouraged to review the Formal Admissions/Student Teaching Application requirements.
    • Hold an overall 3.0 GPA or better in all Educator Preparation Program coursework
      • (including transfer credit and prior Educator Preparation Program coursework). Final grades of “D” or “F” will not be accepted in the 3.0 policy and must be retaken regardless of a teacher candidate’s current GPA. Teacher candidates falling below a 3.0 will be placed on academic probation. Teacher candidates with less than a 3.0 GPA in program coursework will not qualify for student teaching until courses have been satisfactorily retaken to achieve a minimum 3.0 GPA.
    • Complete ALL Level II courses by the 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. For more information concerning the block calendar, please go to: www.riosalado.edu/calendar
    • Have a passing score report for the appropriate Subject Knowledge AEPA/NES exam prior to applying for Level II.
      • It is recommended that the exam be taken as early as possible to provide time to re-take the exam if necessary. When AEPA/NES scores are available, they are electronically sent to Rio Salado College if you list Rio Salado as a recipient when you take the tests. Information and registration for the AEPA/NES is available at: www.aepa.nesinc.com. Special Education: Mild to Moderate Program no longer requires a passing subject knowledge exam

Rio Salado College can no longer accept Praxis or comparable out of state Subject Knowledge exams to meet this requirement. Please make arrangements to take the AEPA/NES Subject Knowledge exam in your state or country.

Q: How does the block calendar impact student teaching?

Rio Salado College's academic calendar is divided into 16-blockseach term. Each block is 16-weeks long. When registering for classes at Rio Salado College, you select a start date for your classes. Your start date will determine your block for that term. You will take all of your classes within your block's start and end dates.

There are two terms available for student teaching: fall and spring. Your student teaching course cannot be in the same block as your Level I or Level II courses. Should you elect to add a course not listed on your program plan, please contact the Field Experience office as this may impact your student teaching start date.

See Post-Baccalaureate Secondary Program EXAMPLE:

BLOCK #: 1 BLOCK START DATE: 8/19/2019 BLOCK END DATE: 12/7/2019
Sem Course Field Experience Credits 6/8 wk 10/14 week Course Start Date Course End Date
Fall 2019 EDU270AB 10 hours 3   X 8/19/19 11/23/2019
Fall 2019 EDU274 20 Field Experience Hours 3   X 8/19/19 11/23/2019
Fall 2019 EDU289XX 20 Field Experience Hours 2   X 8/19/19 11/23/2019
Fall 2019 EDU287AC None 1 X   9/3/19 10/12/2019
Fall 2019 EDU289 None 1 X   9/3/19 10/12/2019

BLOCK #: 1 BLOCK START DATE: 8/13/2020 BLOCK END DATE: 5/2/2020
Sem Course Practicum/No Practicum Credits Placement Length Course Start Date Course End Date
Spring 2020 EDU288AB Student Teaching 8 12 week placement depending on school/state 1/13/2020 4/18/2020


Q: How do I make my student teaching request?

If all Formal Application into Level II requirements have been met, teacher candidates can submit the Student Teaching Placement Request via the Online Field Experience Request portal. Should you incur difficulties submitting the Student Teaching Placement Request, contact your assigned Outreach Specialist at (480) 517-8140. Once you have successfully submitted your student teaching placement request, you will be provided Level II clearance and can register for your Level II courses.

Q: How long is my student teaching assignment?
Rio Salado’s approved programs require a minimum 12-week, full-time student teaching component for most certification areas. 12-week (60 instructional days) student teaching placements parallel with Rio Salado College’s academic calendar, not the school’s grading period. In some schools/districts and states, you will be required to student teach for more than 12- weeks – 14 or even 18- weeks in some instances. Variations in the length of student teaching may also be dictated by the ADE requirements for certification.

Q: What is the daily time commitment associated with student teaching?

Student teaching is a full-time requirement, teacher candidates are expected to mirror the same schedule as their assigned Supervising Practitioner. As a rule of thumb, plan to be at the school 30-minutes prior to the first bell ringing and 2-hours after the last bell rings. You will need to plan on staying after the last bell rings to go over lesson planning with your Supervising Practitioner. It is the goal of Rio Salado College and the LEA to cause little disruption to the Supervising Practitioner’s classroom and instruction as possible. In addition to completing observation and teaching in the classroom, the teacher candidate will also spend time outside of the classroom developing lesson plans, designing units,creating a portfolio, and completing the assignments in the student teaching course.

Q: Can I begin student teaching whenever I want?

Rio Salado College students accustomed to weekly start dates in their Rio online courses are sometimes surprised that student teaching is not so open-ended. Student teaching start dates are only offered in August, September, January, and February. Most Arizona schools do not offer a regular 12-week quarter in the summer months; therefore Arizona summer placements are not available. Variations to these dates can be made based on placement availability, not based on your convenience.

Q: What is the cost associated with student teaching?*

Costs include but are not limited to:

    • Tuition for the required credit hours (4-12 credits, varies by certification requirements in your content area). To view Current Tuition Rates.
    • Course fee $525.00. Individuals utilizing their own classroom for student teaching will need to pay a $600 course fee.
    • Registration fee $15.00.
    • Cancellation Fee: Students cancelling a confirmed student teaching placement or not meeting the student teaching requirements after a confirmed placement has been approved, are assessed a $200.00 rescheduling fee.

*Fees are subject to change.

Q: Does my state require a student teaching application?

Teacher candidates residing and completing student teaching in Arizona are not required to complete a student teaching application with the Arizona Department of Education. However, teacher candidates residing in states other than Arizona are responsible for researching the student teaching requirements and applications for their state. It is the teacher candidate’s responsibility to meet the necessary application deadlines. Some states require that teacher candidates submit the student teaching application 6 months prior to their anticipated student teaching start date. Please plan accordingly.

Q: What if I want to teach middle grades?

Teacher candidates who want to teach in middle grades may choose to be certified as either Elementary or Secondary teachers, and then add on Middle Grade eligibility.

    • Secondary Certificate Candidates, are eligible to teach grades 6/8 in the content area (math, language arts/reading, science or social studies) that matches your passing score in an NES secondary content area. To be highly qualified to teach grade 5, a secondary teacher must also pass the Middle Grades NES and complete the Middle Grade Endorsement coursework.

o Elementary Certificate Candidates,must pass the Elementary Subject Knowledge NES first, and then add middle school eligibility by passing the middle grades NES in your preferred content.

    • However, for Elementary student teaching, Rio Salado College requires placement in a 1-5th grade classroom teaching all subject areas. Elementary student teaching cannot be approved in a single subject 6-8th grade classroom.

NOTE: Rio Salado College will not accept a passing Middle Grade exam to meet the student teaching subject knowledge requirement. If you are secondary certification teacher candidate, you must pass an approved Secondary content area AEPA/NES exam (or if no AEPA/NESis available in your content – have 24 credit hours of approved coursework in a content that is taught in the public schools) prior to student teaching. For example, the MS Math AEPA/NES is not an approved Secondary content area,but can be added on to your Secondary certificate.

Q: What if there is no NES exam in my subject area?

In Secondary subject areas where no NES exam is available, your official transcripts must confirm that you have 24 credit hours in your content area (examples include:Agriculture, Sociology, and Computer 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 by the ADE when you apply for certification. Candidates are strongly encouraged to verify acceptance of credit hours prior to applying for Level I coursework with Rio Salado College.

Q: What subject knowledge exam do I need to pass if I want to teach mathematics?

Rio Salado College will accept the following NES Mathematics exams for individual seeking the Secondary Education 6-12th grade certificate:

    • Middle Grades/Early Secondary Mathematics – Rio Salado College will accept this exam for individuals completing the Secondary 6-12th grade program to be placed in a 6-12th grade classroom teaching Algebra I, Geometry, General Mathematics, and Foundational Mathematics.

o Mathematics - Rio Salado College will accept this exam for individuals completing the Secondary program to be placed in all levels of Mathematics in grades 6-12th.

Q: Will a master's degree waive the subject knowledge exam requirement?

An applicant can waive the Subject Knowledge exam if they have a Master’s degree* in that subject area from an accredited institution of higher education according to an official transcript issued from the institution.

    • Applicants who have a Master’s degree in Elementary or Early Childhood Education are NOT eligible to waive the Subject Knowledge exam because the approved exams assess the content areas being taught at each grade level whereas a Master’s degree covers the pedagogy of teaching the content areas.

Q: What if I want to teach a foreign language and an NES exam is not available in my content area?

If an NES exam is not offered in the foreign language, you may qualify for the approved area with:

    • 24 semester hours of coursework in the language; OR
    • Passing the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL) exam in the language (speaking/writing exams); OR
    • For Native American language teachers, by submitting verification of fluency in the language from an appropriate official from the Tribe.

NOTE: Student teaching placements are subject to LEA availability for foreign language areas where no NES Subject Knowledge exam is available. If no placements in your foreign language are available,you will need to elect another subject knowledge area to complete your placement and provide a passing subject knowledge score prior to student teaching placement approval.

Q: Are there preparation guides for the NES?

The AEPA/NES provides free study guides for many of the NES exams. The AEPA/NES also has practice tests at a cost. Click here for: NES Exam preparation materials

Q: Can student teaching be completed outside of Arizona?

Teacher candidates who request to complete their student teaching assignment outside of Arizona MUST consider the following before making an out-of-state request:

    • Rio Salado College requires that the teacher candidate provide the Field Experience Coordinator with a contact at the school or district where student teaching is requested. 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 to secure a placement.
    • Many districts give placement priority to students from local colleges; therefore, placement may take longer to confirm or may be delayed until placements are available.
    • Districts may require that Rio Salado College hire a local Program Supervisor, therefore, additional fees may be charged to your student teaching assignment.

All of these variables may impact the timeliness of confirming a student teaching placement outside of Arizona.

NOTE: Additional fees may be associated with student teaching outside of Arizona, please check with the Field Experience Coordinator to discuss your particular situation: student.teaching@riosalado.edu All out-of-state teacher candidates are responsible for verifying that the state where they intend to teach will accept an Arizona teaching certificate and/or Rio Salado’s Educator Preparation Program toward an initial teaching certificate. For more information, please go to: www.riosalado.edu/teachersto check State Authorization.

Q: Can student teaching be completed outside of the United States?

Foreign schools must be approved by Rio Salado College, and the Supervising Practitioner must hold a U.S. teaching certificate. ONLY those schools accredited by an approved regional American accrediting body will be requested. Rio Salado College must have the school name, website, and accrediting information for the requested school, so Rio Salado College can review this for approval.

Q: Department Of Defense Dependents School (DoDDS)?

Rio Salado College is a participating college with a student teaching agreement in place with DoDDS. Applicants who desire a student teaching placement in a DoDDS school are required to follow all policies and practices of both Rio Salado College and DoDDS.

    • Student teaching requests must be submitted on a DoDDS form, sent to Rio Salado College for a signature, and then forwarded by RSC to DoDDS.
    • All application materials must be submitted by DoDDS deadlines. Please contact the Field Experience Coordinator at least 6 months in advance from your anticipated start date to have your forms submitted before the application deadline.
    • DoDDS deadlines for receipt of completed student teaching applications signed by the college are April 30th for Fall placements, and October 31st (of the previous year) for Spring placements. (DoDDS Paperwork must be received at least 30 days prior to the above listed deadline)

NOTE: Government employees cannot receive salary compensation while student teaching.

Q: What if I am already teaching full-time in the classroom?

Teacher candidates already teaching in a private, public charter school, or public LEA , may be able to student teach in their own classroom with the approval of the district and RSC. Candidates who choose this option will not be assigned a Supervising Practitioner but will instead be monitored weekly by a Program Supervisor from RSC. The Principal or designee at the school will also be asked to submit a Weekly Progress Report. There is no reduction in cost to the teacher candidate. The student teaching assignments and classroom placement must match the certification level and/or content area in which the candidate is seeking certification. . Individuals utilizing their own classroom for student teaching will pay a higher course fee of $600.00, due to the additional visits required of the Program Supervisor Q: Can a request for student teaching be changed?

If you have not already been placed in a student teaching assignment and a student teaching placement request has not been submitted to a school/district by a Field Experience Coordinator, you can contact the Field Experience office to request a change be made. 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. When making a placement request, the Field Experience Coordinator will use the most recent information.

NOTE: CONFIRMED PLACEMENTS THAT ARE CANCELLED WILL BE SUBJECT TO A CHANGE FEE AND POSTPONED ONE ENTIRE TERM.

    • Failure to Meet Program Requirements:
      • If you are placed for a student teaching assignment and do not meet eligibility requirements in time (overall 3.0 GPA; passing Subject Knowledge), Rio Salado College will cancel your student teaching placement, charge a rescheduling fee of $200.00, and a new student teaching application will be required. Maintaining positive relationships with our partnering school districts is important to the continuing success of Rio Salado College’s Educator Preparation Program. Rio Salado College does not like to cancel placements as it reflects poorly on the college’s credibility and reliability.

A new request will not be submitted until ALL program requirements are met. Therefore, the placement may be delayed as much as six months.

    • Change in Plans or Decline a 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 $200.00 rescheduling fee. Declining a placement based on grade level, Supervising Practitioner, and/or school assigned will also result in a $200.00 rescheduling fee. If you cancel or decline a placement, you are not guaranteed the opportunity to student teach in the same district or with the same Supervising Practitioner as you originally requested. Since most student teaching requests are placed through the Human Resources Department, meeting your student teaching time commitment is important - you do not want to appear unprofessional or unprepared to these key personnel in school districts where you may want to apply for employment.

Q: Can I apply for certification in a state other than Arizona?

It is teacher candidate’s responsibility to carefully research other state requirements and verify that the state approved teacher education program from Rio Salado College will satisfy requirements. Although Arizona,through NASDTEC, has reciprocal teacher certification agreements with most other states in the U.S., it is the teacher candidates’s responsibility to verify current policies and transfer ability agreements. Requests for verification of program completion are often required by other states (similar to an Institutional Recommendation). If you have met Rio Salado College’s program requirements (including student teaching), requests should be sent to the Field Experience Coordinator at Rio Salado College. Allow at least two weeks, from the time of receipt, for these to be completed.

Q: What subject knowledge exam is required for applicants pursing a certificate in special education – mild to moderate?

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) no longer has a Subject Knowledge exam requirement for the Special Education: Mild to Moderate K-12 certificate. However, teacher candidates seeking Special Education Mild to Moderate K-12th certification must meet the NES Special Education exam (NT 601) requirement prior to applying for certification.

Q: What classroom setting must be utilized for a student teaching placement in special education-mild to moderate?

Teacher candidates seeking a Special Education Mild to Moderate certificate must complete their student teaching assignment in a classroom that serves students with disabilities who have mild to moderate needs and require mild to moderate support. Students with disabilities that are mild to moderate in nature include those with mild to moderate autism, intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injury, emotional disabilities, specific learning disabilities,orthopedic impairments, and/or other health impairments. Please keep this in mind when requesting placement in a Special Education classroom.Typically students that have disabilities that are Mild to Moderate may receive services in an inclusive classroom, resource classroom, and/or the self-contained classroom (within the public school setting). Students seeking a Mild/Moderate Special Education Certificate will be required to seek a student teaching placement in one of the above classroom settings.

To ensure alignment with the expectations of the Arizona Department of Education, final placements for the Mild to Moderate student teaching experience are at the discretion of Rio Salado College's Educator Preparation personnel.

*NOTE: Individuals who will be teaching in a K-8 special education classroom and are listed as the “teacher of record” may also be required to complete the Elementary Sub tests I and II by the hiring school/district.

Q: Is Arizona constitution and U.S. constitution coursework required?

ADE requires all teacher certification applicants completing an educator preparation program must satisfy the Arizona Constitution and U.S.Constitution requirement prior to applying for an Arizona teaching certificate.

To satisfy this requirement students may:

  • Take Rio Salado College coursework- POS220 OR POS221/HIS103 and POS222.
  • Complete the AEPA Constitutions of the United States and Arizona exam (AZ033).
  • Take the coursework through an approved institution.

NOTE: If you have completed an Arizona and/or U.S. constitution course at an educational institution that is not a part of the Maricopa County Community College District, please complete a transcript evaluation for your Arizona and/or U.S. constitution course prior to applying to Level II: Transcript Evaluation Review Form

Q: Can student teaching be waived?

If you have two years of verifiable, continuous teaching experience, you can choose to waive the student teaching requirement and apply directly to the ADE for the Standard Teaching Certificate. If you are opting to waive student teaching, you must verify acceptance with the ADE prior to applying for a teaching certificate. By waiving student teaching, you have NOT completed Rio Salado College’s Educator Preparation Program. Before making this choice, consider the following:

    • Should you need verification of program completion in the future, Rio Salado College will be unable to provide this necessary documentation in-state or out-of-state.
    • If you leave Arizona, waiving student teaching could prevent you from getting certified/licensed in another state.

NOTE: North central University Pathway students are NOT eligible to waive student teaching.

Note: The information in this document is subject to change based on the Arizona Department of Education regulations and Rio Salado College requirements. It is the student’s responsibility to make certain they are meeting the most recent program and/or certification requirements for the state where they are applying for teacher certification.