Avoid Falling Through the Cracks
Licensure Tips to Keep You Afloat
Maintaining and upgrading your Oregon license as appropriate is the single most important foundational box in any teacher’s “to do” list. You cannot practice as a professional without a valid and active license. The sad fact is that some teachers fall through the cracks when they do not pay attention to their expiration date or the licensure requirements that must be met before that date until it is too late. “Falling through the crack” can be described as failing to renew in time, to losing your job, to being investigated by TSPC for working without a valid license.
When is it too late? The expiration date on your license is the “cliff date” that for many is the point of no return — however, for many others it becomes too late when requirements such as coursework, Continuing Professional Development hours or passing test scores have been neglected as the expiration date approaches.
Some ideas to consider here:
TSPC stopped sending out renewal packets last April (previously, districts received the renewal packets to hand out to teachers because teachers would change addresses and not inform TSPC). They now send the school districts a list of the educators whose license is expiring approximately three months prior to the expiration date. They also send renewal instructions to the districts to forward to the educators. They are still sending “birthday greeting” reminders to educators to remind them that their license is coming up for renewal. An email goes out to educators 90 days prior to their expiration date letting them know that their license is up for renewal; however, we know that those email addresses are not routinely updated with TSPC.
- TO DO: Make sure that you update your home address, email and name with TSPC by sending them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- TO DO: Calendar your expiration date plus any deadlines for getting started and finished on requirements to renew or upgrade your license.
- TO DO: Download the C-2 application form directly from the TSPC website and fill it out a month before your expiration date. A PEER form from the district verifying your work experience must also be sent (in a sealed envelope) along with your check and any other related documents (official transcripts and score reports).
- TO DO: If you have a Basic, Standard, Initial II or Continuing License, make sure all of your CPD is completed and your log is into the district BEFORE they must fill out your PEER form.
- DO NOT COUNT on the 120 day grace period that follows most (not all) expiration dates! This safety net exists only for those who submit their full and complete application with fee and district PEER form before the expiration date occurs. This grace period allows official transcripts and official score reports to come through to TSPC and allows you to continue to teach while your license is in grace period.
- DO NOT use the grace period as a time to complete the necessary requirements that you failed to complete before the expiration date. The grace period exists to allow documents to arrive at TSPC and for additional processing time.
- Your $100 licensure fee is valid for 90 days only. If your documents do not come within 90 days of submission of that fee, you will have to pay again. Bird-dog those documents to make sure they arrive within that time frame.
- TO DO: Visit your license and the processing of it at the online look-up on the TSPC website. Use your full name (as it appears on your license), birth date and last four digits of your social security number to access all licensure information and to download any correspondence TSPC has sent to you (in case you have lost those all important letters). At the top of that online look-up page you will be able to see when TSPC has received any documents and you can also see whether your license is still active or not.
Emergency licenses and the use of expedited service (paying for TSPC to process your licensure application in three business days) can only be sponsored by the employer. Emergency licenses are becoming more and more difficult to obtain as TSPC is not recognizing “failure to complete requirements” as an emergency. Extreme extenuating circumstances must be proven. Districts have discretion to sponsor any licensed employee for either of these safety net options. The most important thing to remember here is to NOT ALLOW your license to be subject to the discretionary support of the district.
- TO DO: If you find yourself in the position of needing an emergency license or expedited service, get help from your UniServ Consultant or local President. There could be some serious complications and history behind these requests in your local association. Seek support from your immediate supervisor before talking to anyone at the district level.
- TO DO: Stay clear of these safety nets in the first place. If you do not know what you have to do…or if you get conflicting advice, email me at email@example.com. (I will ask you what your TSPC letter says, so have it handy!)
- Working without a valid, active license requires immediate removal from the classroom. You will not be able to substitute in your classroom or any other classroom while you are waiting for your license to clear unless you have some other valid, active license that allows it. This has been the point of no return for many educators so DO NOT stumble near this experience. If this happens to you, call your UniServ Consultant or local President immediately.
- TO DO: Treat your teaching license with the same or more diligence as your driver’s license and taxes. Life as you know it cannot continue without it being done correctly and ON TIME.
- TO DO: Contact Teresa Ferrer at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!
Licensure Survival Tips
Know your license (If you don’t know, visit the TSPC website to run a search):
- The authorization level(s)
- The specialty area(s) or endorsement(s)
- Find the exact courses (down to the NCES codes) that you are authorized to teach by searching under “License Guide” at the TSPC website
- The renewal date
- The renewal requirements and requirements to upgrade to second stage licensure
Keep in a safe place the following:
- Your license
- The letter from TSPC that came with your license (contains requirements specific to your license)
- Transcripts, score reports from ORELA/NES or PRAXIS tests
- CPD plan (for Basic, Standard, Continuing and Initial II licenses)
- Copies of PEER forms (that districts send to TSPC verifying your teaching experience). Teachers do not routinely get these (except occasionally in a sealed envelope to submit with your application) but it can be helpful to verify that your experience was accurately reported (time, subjects and authorization levels)
When renewing or filing a licensure application:
- Renew BEFORE your expiration date — we recommend 60 days before your expiration date and in avoidance of the grace period.
- Be sure all requirements (including fingerprinting) are completed well in advance
- Send in paperwork and fee before your renewal date
- Be sure to send in a complete application (submit all required forms, fill out each form completely)
- Submit PEER form (verifying teaching experience) from the district in a sealed envelope, or the district can send it separately to TSPC (ask for a copy for your records)
- Submit all official academic transcripts in a sealed envelope
Start early on any requirements that you have for additional coursework or exams:
- Exams need to be taken at the earliest opportunity (in case you need to retake it). Visit the website for the exam and access all prep materials and information to get started on studying.
- Talk to other teachers who have passed this exam and find out what resources helped them.
- Make sure that you are taking coursework that exactly meets the requirements that are placed on your license. (If it needs to be graduate coursework, make sure that it is 500 level or above. If it needs to be accredited or from an Oregon approved program, check the TSPC website or call/email TSPC beforehand).
When calling or contacting TSPC about your license, have the following information at your fingertips:
- Your social security number
- Your license authorization level and specialty area endorsement
- Your renewal date
- Your current assignment
- Licensure test score information
- Information about your recent experience and/or completed academic coursework
- Send in writing to TSPC any address or name change.
- Answer all character questions honestly, with explanations when necessary.
- Study the discipline standards of your professional license and maintain good professional judgement.
- For most licenses, there is a 120 day grace period following your expiration date, but only if your application is complete and in the TSPC office BEFORE your expiration date and all requirements are met. NOT holding a valid and active license necessitates immediate removal from the classroom.
This article is first in a two-part series on licensure survival tips. Stay tuned for the next issue of Today’s OEA, coming out mid-March!
Past Licensure Articles (coming soon!)
- October 2012
- June 2012
- April 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- October 2011