B.S. in Mathematics Secondary Certification

 Concentration Advising Handbook 

This handbook provides students and advisors with all of the relevant information for attaining a BS in Mathematics with a Pennsylvania-issued certificate to teach mathematics (grades 7-12).  Most states surrounding Pennsylvania will accept the certificate.  This online handbook offers an outline of the four-year program at Shippensburg University.  Every attempt has been made to maintain accuracy throughout.  

Corrections (especially dead links) and suggestions may be sent to Prof. Dave Kennedy at dikenn@ship.edu.

Table of Contents

Section 1: The Mission of the Program 

Section 2: Advising 

Section 3: Planning Your Course of Study  

Section 4: Professional Requirements 

Section 5: Professional Experiences: The Three "Levels" 

Section 6: Forms 

Section 1: The Mission of the Program

The mission of the Secondary Certification Concentration program is to successfully prepare undergraduate students for careers in teaching secondary mathematics. Students will be equipped with strong content knowledge, be cognizant of the best practices in teaching mathematics, be familiar with the current national and state standards related to teaching mathematics, and possess the skills and expertise to use state-of-the-art technology in secondary school classrooms. The program will provide certification majors with the foundation and foresight necessary to engage in further graduate studies and/or lifelong learning opportunities.

The Secondary Certification Concentration is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and includes methods-of-teaching-mathematics courses approved by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

Section 2: Advising

As a secondary certification student, you will be assigned two advisors – an Academic Advisor and a Certification Advisor.  The roles of these two advisors are described below. 

Academic Advisor

 You will be assigned an Academic Advisor at the beginning of your freshman year.  You must meet with your Academic Advisor prior to registering for each semester to be released into the registration process. Your academic advisor can assist you with:

  • course selection and sequence decisions, including courses required for certification
  • completing the paperwork for declaring a concentration and/or minor 
  • advice on seeking course waivers, substitutions, or transfer credits 
  • suggestions on how to improve your performance in the undergraduate program if you are having difficulty, including monitoring of your GPA 
  • contacting other faculty members who might help you 
  • insight into University policies 
  • access to support services offered by the University 
  • opportunities to conduct research and participate in professional organizations

If, at any time, you prefer to have a different Academic Advisor, please contact the department secretary for reassignment.

Certification Advisor

The mathematics education faculty members within the department will be serving as Certification Advisors for all of the secondary certification majors.  The assignment of your Certification Advisor will occur during your freshman year.  Your Certification Advisor will assist you with:

  • planning and assessing your Level One Experiences 
  • meeting all testing and application deadlines
  • participating in professional meetings and conferences
  • creating and assessing your professional portfolio
  • helping you through the certification process 

Make sure you meet with your Certification Advisor at least once each semester to monitor your progress toward certification.  This meeting is also prerequisite to your being cleared (each semester) to register for courses.  Information on your progress will be documented by your Certification Advisor and shared with your Academic Advisor.

If, at any time, you prefer to have a different certification advisor, please contact the department secretary for reassignment.

Section 3: Planning Your Course of Study

Secondary Certification concentration students earn a B.S. in Mathematics with certification to teach mathematics in grades 7 – 12 in Pennsylvania.  The program requires:

  • 48 credits of General Education courses 
  • 31-32 credits of Required Courses in Mathematics, and 
  • 45 credits of Secondary Education Certification Concentration courses.

Secondary Certification concentration students have some state-mandated general education course requirements that are clearly indicated on the Check Sheet (see below) and described in the requirements for Professional Standing.  Courses with prerequisites and those that are prerequisites must be scheduled accordingly.  The Suggested Course Schedule (see below) and the Course Frequency Chart (see below) should be consulted when making your course selections and in planning your program of study.  Your Academic Advisor will work with you to make appropriate course sequence decisions.  

B.S. in Mathmatics Check Sheet

The B.S. in Mathematics Check Sheets show the math courses and education courses that you will need to complete for the Secondary Mathematics concentration.  There are two different Math Check Sheets, depending on when you began the program (see below). The General Education Check Sheet shows the General Education courses you should take.  Pay special attention to the more-specific Gen Ed requirements for Secondary Certification majors! 

Important Note about the “Old Program” vs. the “New Program”: 

NEW:   Students who began their freshman year at Shippensburg during the calendar year 2011 or later, and transfer students who are on a path that is not certain to finish at least a full year ahead of such freshmen, have some new requirements mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  These include 9 new hours of special education coursework.  Also distinguishing this “New Program” is a 12-hour student teaching experience, and the replacement of two old courses with the newer TCH 207.
OLD:   Students who began their freshman year at Shippensburg during the calendar year 2010 or earlier follow the Secondary Certification program in place when these freshmen enrolled at Shippensburg.  This “Old Program” is distinguished by a 15-hour student teaching experience, and the taking of TCH 205 (The American School) and TCH 260 (Educational Psychology.)
The Check Sheet of courses required for the math major can be found at the links below.

Suggested Course Schedule

A sample four-year schedule for completing the Secondary Certification program can be found at the links below.

Course Frequency Chart

The Mathematics Department offers its courses on a regular rotation, so that you can plan with confidence when each course will be available.  The Course Frequency Chart can be found here or in the Mathematics Department Office (MCT 250).

Certification Timeline

There are many steps required along the way to achieve secondary certification.  A timeline has been created to show you chronologically how the major components are sequenced.  This timeline can be found here.

Section 4: Professional Requirements

I. Professional Standing

There are several levels of Professional Standing, a designation for students who have met preliminary criteria at several stages of their teacher education program and are preparing to begin any of the various field experiences. Expected dates for the submission of these forms can be found on the Certification Timeline.

Requirements and Applications for Professional Standing Level One should be completed before or during the first semester of your second (sophomore) year. This application enters you into the database in the Office of Field Experiences and Partnerships in the College of Education and Human Services.

Requirements and Applications for Professional Standing Level Two should be completed and submitted by December 1st of your third (junior) year, one semester prior to enrolling in EDU434 (Methods I).  To be approved for Professional Standing Level Two, students must have . . . 

  • Achieved 3.0 or better overall GPA.
  • Completed and documented all Pre-Methods Experiences (see Section 5) in LiveText; this fulfills the Commonwealth’s Early Field Experiences requirement.
  • Completed the Student Teacher Application Form.
  • Passed either the Praxis I standardized test prior to April 2, 2012, or passed the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) from Pearson Evaluation after April 2, 2012.

More information, including criteria and the application for Professional Standing, can be found here.

II. Standardized Tests for Certification

Students must pass the following standardized tests by the deadlines indicated to continue in the program.  Mathematics Department faculty can point students to materials for test preparation and can provide assistance. 

Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA)

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is transitioning from requiring the PAPA instead of the PRAXIS I as the first round of standardized tests for Certification in Pennsylvania. 

  • Praxis I - Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) from ETS is the old basic skills test covering reading, writing, and math.  According to the Office of Field Experiences and Partnerships web site, it is still acceptable as a certification test under the following two scenarios:
    • All three PPST tests were passed prior to April 2, 2012.
    • If only one or two of the thee PPST tests were passed prior to April 2, 2012, the remaining test(s) may be passed after April 2 and the PPST scores will still count for certification purposes. 
  • Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) from Pearson Evaluation is the new basic skills test covering reading, writing, and math.  Effective April 2, 2012 it must be taken by all undergraduate certification candidates who do not fit into either of the two scenarios listed above.
    • PAPA is available only on computer.  It is available year-round by appointment at Pearson Professional Centers 
    • All three PAPA modules must be taken the first time.  If retesting is required, only the module(s) that has not been passed needs to be retaken. 
  • PPST/PAPAs should be successfully completed by the end of the sophomore fall semester.

NOTE:  Effective March 2012, post-bac candidates do NOT have to take a basic skills test for certification purposes in PA. 

Praxis II

This test assesses proficiency in high-school and early-college mathematics. A passing score is required for state certification.
  • Successfully completed by summer prior to Year 3
  • Attempt test prior to December 1st of Year 3
  • Pass test prior to student teaching
Be sure to sign up for Test #5161 (Mathematics: Content Knowledge – 2 hours – graphing calculator required) as they have many different math tests!  Testing dates and registration information are available from the Educational Testing Services website at www.ets.org, and specific test information can be found at http://www.ets.org/praxis/pa/requirements.

 III. Applying to Student Teach

The Student Teacher Application Form is to be completed and submitted with the Application for Professional Standing Level Two, due by December 1st of your junior year.

IV. Clearances

An FBI background check and fingerprinting is required of all prospective teachers and remains valid while you are a Shippensburg University student. Students must also complete an Act 34 Criminal Record Clearance, an Act 151 Child Abuse Clearance, and a TB tine test.  It is the responsibility of the student to make certain these clearances are completed and copies are submitted to the Office of Field Services at the start of the Methods II (EDU435) semester. These clearances need to be renewed so that they are valid during all field experiences, including student teaching.

Please find more information here.

Note that most school districts require these clearances for early field experience also!  

Section 5: Professional Experiances

Three phases of professional experiences are required. They are labeled Pre-Methods (completed by December 1st of junior year, before taking the spring-semester methods course EDU434), Methods II (completed during the fall-semester course EDU435), and Student Teaching  

I. Pre-Methods Experiences

These experiences are completed during Freshman and Sophomore years under the supervision of your Certification Advisor.  These must be completed prior to applying for Professional Standing Level Two, which is required to enroll in the methods-of-teaching-math courses.  Evidence and documentation of the experiences must be displayed in a LiveText portfolio.  A template for this portfolio (Math: Pre-Methods) is available through your LiveText account.

By no later than December 1st during the semester before you take Methods I, submit your Application for Professional Standing Level Two application to the Office of Field Experiences and Partnerships and notify your Certification Advisor that your LiveText portfolio, documenting the completion of your Pre-Methods Experiences, is ready for inspection. 

The following four required categories describe the requirements and acceptable activities for Pre-Methods Experiences.

1. Classroom Observations:

The student will spend at least 20 hours (i.e., the equivalent of three full school days) in direct classroom observation of mathematics instruction in secondary schools. Approximately half the time should be dedicated to observing in grades 7 and 8 (middle/junior high school), and the other half to observing in grades 9 through 12 (high school).  A variety of settings should be observed, including rural and urban settings.

Proper arrangements need to made, with proper permission granted by the authorities in the school where the observations will take place.  Copies of your clearances may be required.

For schools within an hour's drive of Shippensburg University, go through the Office of Field Experiences and Partnerships to plan your visits.  For schools farther away, you may make your own arrangements. A letter of introduction, verifying this observation visit is a requirement, may be obtained from the Office of Field Experiences and Partnerships.

Observations completed in any of your education courses may be counted toward this requirement, provided they are mathematics class observations.  If full days of observations cannot be arranged, partial days of observation can be used to accumulate hours equivalent to three full days.  One full day (or about seven hours) should be completed during the freshman year. 

Evidence and Documentation – Provide documentation that you made of each observation.  Provide complete contact information for each teacher observed. Write a one- or two-page analysis of each of your observation experiences.  Respond to the following prompts:

  • Describe the setting of the observation and what you observed.
  • What was the best teaching strategy that you observed?
  • What was the most important thing you learned from your observation about teaching?
  • Describe any use of technology or other materials and equipment the teacher used to teach. 
  • Describe exactly how the teacher interacted with the students and how the students interacted with each other.
  • Compare the rural and urban settings. 

Please note: The focus during observations is to foster beginning teacher thoughts – an understanding of how new teacher actions and choices enables or hinders the acquisition of student mathematical knowledge. Time spent working as a substitute teacher does not count toward completion of Pre-Methods experiences.

2. Pre-Teaching Experiences:

Working with students one-on-one is an important part of teaching.  Valuable teaching skills can be learned by tutoring individuals or small groups.  These experiences also help the certification student learn more about himself or herself as a teacher.  Preapproval by the Certification Advisor is required as is appropriate evidence and documentation of the tutoring experience. 

There are two options for satisfying this requirement:

(1) The student will participate in at least 40 contact hours as a volunteer or paid mathematics tutor in a setting approved by the Certification Advisor.  This experience may include tutoring in the SU Math Department's tutoring center, but can also include outside work with students in grades 7-12 or college students. 

(2) Serve as a Master Course Assistant for a college math course in the Mathematics Department, under the supervision of a Mathematics faculty member. Again, 40 contact hours are required.

3. Professional Development Activities:

The student must participate in two or more of the following activities (or a similar activity approved by the Certification Advisor). The student will provide in the LiveText Pre-Methods Portfolio appropriate documentation as evidence of completion of this requirement.

  • Attend a school board meeting, or research the actions of a school board during a single year and report on the results;
  • Interview a teacher about what makes a good mathematics teacher;
  • Attend and report on a campus event related to an educational issue (presentations, conferences, department seminars)
  • Attend a school function, such as PTO, teacher in-service program, etc.
  • Attend and report on a professional conference (e.g, PCTM, NCTM)

Please note: Approval of Professional Development Activities that occur during substitute teaching is done on a case-by-case basis by your Certification Advisor. 

4. Service-Focused Activities: 

An important part of a teaching career is service to the school and community.  The activities below provide experience with assisting others.  The student must participate in one or more of the following activities (or a similar activity approved by the Certification Advisor). A total of 10 hours of participation is required. Appropriate documentation should be provided in the LiveText Pre-Methods Portfolio.

  • Teaching other than public schools (Sunday School teacher, playground director, summer camp counselor, etc.); 
  • Volunteer work with youth, elderly, etc. 
  • Participate in campus service projects (Big Sister, Big Brother, Circle K, etc.)
  • Civic club/Jaycee work. 

II. Methods II Field Experiences

Each student in the Methods II (EDU435) course receives two different placements to fulfill his or her clinical experience.  A middle-school placement and a high-school placement in different school districts are assigned. These experiences are designed to provide opportunities for students to work with cooperating teachers in classrooms where they may return for student teaching.  A LiveText portfolio of these pre-student teaching experiences is prepared as a course requirement for EDU435.  At the conclusion of the clinical experiences, classroom teachers and certification students assess the experiences and decide whether to continue with student teaching in these placements.

III. Student Teaching

Student Teaching is the capstone experience for secondary certification mathematics majors. This experience is usually completed during the final semester of the undergraduate program. Students must apply for student teaching by December 1 of their junior year.

The Student Teacher Application Form can be found here.

During the student teaching experience, student teachers, university supervisors and cooperating teachers in classrooms collaborate to facilitate each student teacher's professional growth and to prepare him/her as a qualified first-year teacher candidate.  A LiveText portfolio of student teaching experiences is prepared as a requirement.  Supervisory guidelines, observation and evaluation forms, and University policies are provided in the College of Education and Human Services’ Student Teaching Handbook.

The Student Teaching Handbook can be found here.

Section 6: Forms  

Here are all of our forms gathered together in one place for you. After you feel that you have a good understanding of the certification process, you can just jump to these links for quick access to the forms.

Application for Professional Standing:   
 Application for Student Teaching 
 Check Sheet:
 Clearances summary
Course Frequency Chart 
Office of Field Experiences and Partnerships Handbook
Sample Schedules:
Student Teaching Handbook