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Skip Navigation LinksRio Salado College / Programs / Teacher Education / Teacher-in-Residence

FAQ: Alternative Teaching Certificate

  • Q: What makes me eligible for an Alternative Teaching Certificate?

    A. A district must be willing to hire you for a teaching position. Rio Salado College (RSC) can work with public and charter schools. You must pass the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment (AEPA/NES) in the content area for which you are being hired – see the following website:

    • Final scores may take 4-6 weeks. 

    Upon passage of the NES, an admission packet must be completed for the Alternative Teaching Certificate, including payment to the Arizona Department of Education.

    Special Education interns may be required to complete additional NES exams based on the needs of the hiring school system. Contact your human resources department to verify.

  • Q: Which NES Professional Knowledge exam should I take and when should I take it?

    A. Prior to the completion of your second year in the RSC Teacher-in-Residence program you will need to take and successfully pass the NES Professional Knowledge exam.  For Elementary teachers this will be the Special Education Professional Knowledge exam (NT051), for Secondary teachers this will be the Secondary Education exam (NT052), for Special Education this will be the Special Education Professional Knowledge exam (NT051).  For K-12 Arts teachers it is best to start with the professional knowledge exam for the grade levels you primarily teach at – grades K-8 = Elementary exam (NT051) and grades 6-12 = Secondary exam (NT052) – you will eventually need to take both.  Further information on these exams and the certification requirements can be found at: and

  • Q: Is a Master's Degree required?
    A. No, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) only regulates the completion of the certification hours.

  • Q: What certification options are offered under Rio's Teacher-In-Residence program?

    A. Rio Salado is able to work with students in Arts (K-12 Art, Music, Dance or Drama), Elementary (K-8), Special Education (K-12), and Secondary (7-12). An Institutional Recommendation (IR) is provided to the ADE and student teaching is included on the candidate's transcript.

  • Q: What is the purpose of the Teacher-In-Residence program?

    A. The intent of the TIR Program is to ensure a "highly qualified," certified teacher in all Arizona classrooms. It is based on the following:

    • The ability to work in the same classroom, fulltime for two years, while completing the state approved certification program.
    • Completion of 50% of the required program plan by the end of the first year in order to maintain employment for the 2nd year.
    • Evaluations by Rio Salado College for four semesters (not including summer).
    • Completion of the program results in the student receiving a Provisional Teaching certificate.
  • Q: What districts are using the Alternative Teaching Certificate?

    A. All districts are eligible for the partnership. If you see an opening posted on a district website, have passed the AEPA in the specified area, and are interested in applying with the district for an Alternative Teaching Certificate, Rio is willing to work with your chosen district to explain the Teacher in Residence Program.

  • Q: Do I have to stay with the same district for the entire two years?

    A. Yes. The idea behind this program and the Alternative Teaching Certificate is to build continuity for the teaching candidate and the school district.

  • Q. What if I can't complete the two years?
    A. The Alternative Teaching Certificate will be revoked and your contract offer will be voided with the school district. The Alternative Teaching Certificate is only issued one time – you cannot request a new certificate at a later date nor can you use it at a school/district other than the one for which is was issued. Once an Alternative Teaching Certificate has been revoked you are ineligible to receive an Alternative Teaching Certificate for 5 years and will never again be able to obtain an Emergency Certificate.
  • Q: Is there any help for students wishing to take the AEPA?

    A. At this time you can use the AEPA study tools available online. Rio Salado does offer a special workshop for those candidates interested in taking the AEPA Cross Categorical Content exam for special education. Contact Beth Hoffman at 480-517-8531 for more information.

    Q: What are the costs?
    A. The student will pay current Governing Board approved tuition per credit hour, and registration, course and student teaching fees.

  • Q: What are the credit hours?

    A. Arts is 34 credit hours, Elementary is 45 credit hours, Secondary is 38 credit hours, and Special Education is 51 credit hours.

  • Q: What are the US & AZ Constitution Requirements?

    A. Teachers in Arizona have three years from the issuance of their Emergency, Alternative, or Provisional Certificate to either complete coursework in both AZ Constitution (POS221) and US Constitution (POS222) or to pass the AEPA exam covering these areas. This means that, while not a requirement of the Teacher in Residence program, the coursework or exam for both U.S. and AZ Constitutions must be completed within one year after completing the TIR program.

    If you are a history, civics, political science teacher you will only have one year to complete the courses or the AEPA exam for this requirement.

    If you were initially an Emergency Certified teacher prior to the TIR program, you will have three years from the date of your EC which may mean you will need to complete these ADE requirements before the end of your TIR program.

  • Q: Is financial assistance available?

    A. Contact the Financial Aid office or follow the procedures online to apply for Financial Aid.

  • Q: What if my district is located outside of Maricopa County?

    A. The Teacher in residence Program is available anywhere in Arizona because it is offered using a distance e-learning format. The only difference for a candidate outside of Maricopa County is the evaluation process.

    For additional questions please contact the TIR Outreach Specialist at 480-517-8126.