- 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 60 instructional days (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 your 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 of a classroom. Applicants who do NOT complete student teaching through Rio Salado College are not eligible for an Institutional Recommendation through Rio Salado College and will not be considered a Program Completer.
- 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 Arizona Department of Education operates under the direction of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to provide direct services to approximately 2,200 schools in 225 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 Educator 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 http://www.ade.az.gov/
AEPA - Arizona Educators Proficiency Assessment – State mandated exams required by the Arizona Department of Education for teacher certification. Students have the option of completing the AEPA or the NES. 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
NES – National Evaluation Series - State mandated exams required by the Arizona Department of Education for teacher certification. Students have the option of completing the AEPA or the NES. 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
Supervising Practitioner (SP) – "Supervising practitioner" mean an appropriately certified educator, currently employed by a local education agency, private agency or other PreK-12 setting who supervises the candidate during a capstone experience. The Rio Salado Supervising Practitioner 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 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 pre-service candidates succeed in the teaching profession.
Program Supervisor (PS) – Formally referred to as College Supervisor means an educator from the professional preparation institution under whose supervision the candidate for licensure practices during a capstone experience/student teaching. The program supervisor's professional work experiences must be relevant to the license the candidate is seeking. Program supervisors must also have adequate training from the professional preparation institution. Rio's program supervisors will assist students to clarify program expectations, mediate conflicts and submit all pertinent evaluation paperwork related to the student teaching experience. A teaching professional hired by Rio Salado College to support and evaluate your student
Education Liaison (EL) – Personnel at Rio Salado College, who hire, train and support the College Supervisors.
Field Experience Coordinator (FEC) – Personnel at Rio Salado College who contacts the districts/schools to coordinate student teaching placements for students in Rio Salado College’s Educator Preparation Programs.
Institutional Recommendation (IR) – A document that serves as your application for your provisional teacher certificate. 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’s receipt of the documentation from your College Supervisor.
"Student teaching" means a minimum of twelve weeks of rigorous field-based experiences, appropriate for the certificate of 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 the applicant is seeking to the license the candidate is seeking.
STAI - Student Teaching Assessment Tool STAT – The tool developed by Rio Salado’s Educator Preparation Program which is utilized for your formal performance evaluation at three different stages in your student teaching experience.
- RTI– Response to Intervention - 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 students can be made using a problem-solving philosophy that involves strategic decision making. These decisions are based on data regarding student achievement both academically and behaviorally. It provides an overview of students past coursework, behavior and overall performance in any Rio Salado's state approved educator education programs. For more information, please go to: http://www.riosalado.edu/programs/education/rti/Pages/default.aspx
- LEA – Local Education Association - A commonly used synonym for a school district. It can also be used in reference to a private or charter school system.
- “Institutional recommendation (IR) means a form developed by the Arizona Department Education and issued by a professional preparation institution, that indicates an individual has completed a Board approved educator preparation program. Rio Salado students are eligible for an IRafter completion of all program requirements.
*Fees are subject to change
- 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 enters your request for student teaching into the database for tracking. Well in advance, 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. This also alerts the Education Liaisons to assign a College Supervisor. The Field Experience Coordinator 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: Does my state require me to submit a student teaching application?
Students residing in Arizona and completing student teaching in Arizona are not required to complete a student teaching application with the Arizona Department of Education. However, students residing in states other than Arizona are responsible for researching the student teaching requirements and applications for their state. It is the student’s responsibility to meet the necessary application deadlines. Some states require that students submit the student teaching application 6 months prior to their anticipated student teaching start date. Please plan accordingly.
- Q: Can I waive the student teaching requirement?
For the Post-baccalaureate program ONLY - If you have two years of verifiable, continuous teaching experience, you can choose to waive the Rio’s student teaching requirement and apply directly to ADE for your Provisional Teaching Certificate. By waiving student teaching, you have NOT completed Rio Salado College’s Teacher Preparation Program. Before making this choice, consider the following:
- You have NOT completed Rio's state approved Educator Preparation Program. Should you need verification of program completion in the future, Rio will be unable to provide this for you.
- Many other states require verification of student teaching for their teacher certification. If you ever leave Arizona, waiving student teaching could prevent you from getting certified/licensed in another state. Additionally, Rio could not verify you completed a state approved Educator Preparation Programs, which is required for most states' certification.
- You must complete all program requirements, including student teaching, to be eligible for an Institutional Recommendation (IR) from Rio Salado College. The IR simplifies the certification process because Rio confirms you have met ADE requirements so you do not need to provide transcripts or other documents except your fingerprint clearance card. In addition, the fees are less.
Please note: If you are a Northcentral University Pathway student, you are not eligible to waive student teaching. Student Teaching is a critical component of your degree program that cannot be waived.
- 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 eligibility. If you seek a Secondary certificate, you 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 AEPA/NES secondary content area. To be highly qualified to teach grades 5/6, a secondary teacher must also pass the Middle Grades AEPA/NES and complete the Middle Grade Endorsement coursework. If you seek an Elementary certificate, you must pass the Elementary Subject Knowledge AEPA/NES first, and then add a middle school eligibility by passing the middle grades AEPA/NES in your preferred content. Passing scores on all these exams are required prior to student teaching in middle grades.
Please 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 student, you must pass an approved Secondary content area AEPA/NES exam (or if no AEPA/NES is 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 AEPA/NES exam in my content area?
In secondary subject areas where no AEPA/NES exam is available, your official transcripts must confirm that you have 24 credit hours in your content area (examples include: Agriculture ,Sociology, 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 not by Rio Salado College, but by the ADE when you apply for certification.
- Q: What if I have a Master’s Degree from an accredited institution, does that 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 Education are NOT eligible to waive the Elementary Subject Knowledge exam because the Elementary Subject Knowledge exam covers the content areas of an Elementary classroom whereas a Master’s degree covers the pedagogy of teaching the content areas. In addition, a Master’s in Early Childhood Education will no longer waive the Early Childhood Subject Knowledge exam requirement.
- Q: What if I want to teach a Foreign Language and an AEPA/NES exam is not available in my content area?
If an AEPA/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.
Please note: Student teaching placements in a foreign language where no AEPA/NES Subject Knowledge exam is based on school/district availability. 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: What is required in Arizona if I want to teach Social Studies?
The AEPA Social Studies test (03) may be taken to satisfy assessment requirements for teachers seeking certification for grades 7 through 12, but cannot be used to satisfy "highly qualified" requirements for grades 9 through 12 under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). To meet the highly qualified requirements, candidates for grades 9 through 12 must pass one of the following AEPA/NES tests or must show on official transcripts from an accredited institution 24 credit hours of college coursework in the subject knowledge area:
- Political Science/American Government
- Q: What is required in Arizona if I want to teach General Science?
Effective March 1, 2013, applicants will only be able to qualify for the General Science approved area by passing the NES General Science Exam.
- Q: Are there AEPA and NES preparation guides available?
AEPA administrators offer AEPA preparation resources, for more information please visit: www.aepa.nesinc.com
NES also offers preparation materials, for more information please visit: http://www.nestest.com/PageView.aspx?f=GEN_PreparationMaterials.html
- 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 have additional issues to consider. It is important to 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. Some require that Rio Salado College hire a local college supervisor. All of these issues require that additional time be allowed to request a student teaching placement outside of Arizona. Please note: Additional fees may be associated with student teaching outside of Arizona, please check with the Field Experience Coordinator to discuss your particular situation. All out-of-state students 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/teachers for Out-of-State Certification.
- Q: What if I live outside the United States?
If you plan to student teach outside of the United States, see the issues listed in the question above and then add even more time, research, and paperwork. Foreign schools must be approved by Rio Salado, 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 the name, website and accrediting information for the requested school, so Rio Salado College can review this for approval.
- Q: What if I want to student teach at a Department of Defense Dependents School?
Rio Salado College is a participating college with a student teaching agreement in place with DoDDS. 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, sent to Rio Salado College for signature, and then forwarded by Rio to DoDDS. Applications and information are available at the following website: http://www.dodea.edu/offices/hr/employment/studentteaching/default.htm
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. Allow sufficient time for Rio to receive your formal DoDDS paperwork well in advance of these deadlines. Please note that you cannot be a paid government employee while you are student teaching.
- Q: What if I am already teaching?
Some of Rio’s teacher candidates are already teaching in a private or charter school. Others may have been hired by a district as a long-term substitute or as a teacher on an Emergency Certificate. In these situations it may be possible to student teach in the student’s own classroom, without the benefit and support of a cooperating teacher. This arrangement must be set up in advance, must be approved by the school administration, and must be monitored weekly by a Rio Salado College Supervisor. The principal or designee at the school will also be asked to submit a weekly progress report form. There is no reduction in cost to the student. And as with all student teaching placements, you must be teaching in a classroom that matches your certification level and content area. This option is only available at the completion of all required Level I and Level II coursework.
- Q: What if I want to change my student teaching request?
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 update your request by completing the request form again and sending it to the Rio 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. When making a placement request, the Field Experience Coordinator will use the most recent information. You can find the form at the following website: http://www.riosalado.edu/programs/education/Pages/formal-admission.aspx . It is page 6 of the Formal Admission application.
- 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 (remember, all courses must have grades posted and your passing Subject Knowledge score must be received at least two weeks prior to the start of your student teaching), Rio will cancel your student teaching placement . You will be assessed a $100.00 rescheduling fee and a new student teaching application will also be required. Maintaining positive relationships with our partnering school districts is important to the continuing success of Rio’s Educator Preparation Program. Rio does not like to cancel placements because it reflects poorly on the college’s credibility and reliability.
Should you not meet placement requirements, Rio Salado College will not schedule you for another student teaching placement until a passing Subject Knowledge score it received.
- 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 $200.00 rescheduling fee. Declining a placement based on grade level, Cooperating Teacher, 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 teach in the same district or with the same cooperating teacher 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: 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 http://www.nasdtec.net/?page=Interstate), it is not possible to keep abreast of current teacher certification requirements in all other states. if you live outside of Arizona and are applying directly to the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) for a teaching certificate, ADE will NOT accept comparable state exams. Arizona is an AEPA/NES state.
- Q: Am I required to take complete the Arizona and US Constitution course?
The Arizona Department of Education requires all teacher certification applicants to satisfy the Arizona and U.S. Constitution requirement within three years of receipt of a valid teaching certificate. The three years begins when the first Emergency Teaching Certificate, Intern Certificate or Provisional Certificate is awarded. Individuals applying for a certification authorizing them to teach a course that focuses predominantly on history, government, social studies, citizenship, law or civics, have only one year to fulfill this requirement. To satisfy this requirement Rio Salado College offers POS220, POS221, and POS222. You also have the option of completing the AEPA Constitutions of the United States and Arizona (33) exam www.aepa.nesinc.com
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, Rio Salado College cannot recognize this course as an equivalent course to POS220, POS221, or POS222. You will need to provide proof of Arizona and/or US constitution to the Arizona Department of Education at the time you apply for your teaching certificate.
It is recommended that all students who wish to have this requirement recognized on the Institutional recommendation complete the Arizona and U.S. Constitution requirement concurrently with your Level I and/or Level II coursework.
Out-of-state/country students: If you will be applying for a teaching certificate with the Arizona Department of Education and transferring your teaching certificate to your state through reciprocity,, it is recommended that you complete the Arizona and US Constitution course POS220 prior to student teaching or concurrently with your student teaching course. If you do not complete the Arizona and U.S. Constitution requirement prior to applying for an Arizona teaching certificate, it will reflect as a deficiency on your teaching certificate and you may not be able to apply for certification in your state until this deficiency has been met. All students are encouraged to research this with their state if they plan transferring through reciprocity.
- 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, to meet the Rio support personnel, to ask questions you might have, and to learn about the certification process following your student teaching. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your questions.
- Q: What is an Intern Certificate and how can I get one?
Rio Salado College sponsors a state-approved program called Teacher in Residence (TIR), which is a partnership between Rio Salado College, school districts and ADE to get highly qualified candidates into the classroom right away. Potential interns must have a letter of intent to be hired by an Arizona school district, must have passing scores on the AEPA Subject Knowledge test in the content area the school needs to hire, must have passing scores on all sections of the Accuplacer exam, and a current IVP fingerprint clearance card. A Formal Application is required. Other requirements and restrictions apply. See details at http://www.riosalado.edu/programs/education/teacher-in-residence/Pages/default.aspx
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. Check your Class Icon Update regularly.