Office of Personnel
Office of Certification

Frequently Asked Questions About Certification
For questions not related to Certification click here

The Office of Certification is responsible for:

  • Requesting initial and renewed Maryland Certificates
  • Adding a new endorsement area to your certificate
  • Processing Tuition Reimbursement for certificated and licensed BCPS employees
  • Maintaining records of educational growth
  • Initiating salary lane changes as negotiated in the Master Agreement

Note: Maryland teacher certification regulations are subject to revision without notice. The following information is provided to assist the user in obtaining a general understanding of Maryland Teacher Certification requirements. This information should be used for guidance purposes only and is for currently hired Baltimore County Public School teachers.

  1. Who must hold a Maryland certificate? Contracted teachers and specialists employed in Maryland Public School Systems are required to hold a certificate issued by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). A certificate is also required of each administrator and supervisor in a position directly related to the instructional program.


  2. How long will it take for me to receive my certificate? After the Office of Certification has received, reviewed and processed all necessary materials the certificate will be issued once the certificate fee of $10.00 is deducted from one’s check through payroll.


  3. How do I add another teaching subject to my certificate? If you hold a professional teaching certificate, you can add an endorsement by achieving a qualifying score on an appropriate Praxis II test(s) or thirty (30) semester hours of content course work. You should contact the Certification Office for specific requirements.


  4. Can I have my records evaluated for another area of certification? If you hold a SPC or APC you can request an evaluation for another area. The request must be sent in writing or by email. It may take six to eight weeks from the date of the request to complete the evaluation. Requests are limited to two per year.


  5. My certificate is about to expire and I have not completed the renewal requirements, can I get an extension? There is not grace or extension period.


  6. What happens if I allow my certificate to expire without meeting the renewal requirements? As a result of not renewing your certificate your salary may be frozen on step, your employment status may be changed to long-term substitute, without benefits, or your employment contract may be rendered null and void.


  7. I have been teaching since the beginning of time. Do I have to take courses to renew my certificate? If you possess a valid Advanced Professional Certificate, have completed twenty-five (25) years of teaching experience in an acceptable public or non-public school, or are fifty-five (55) years of age at the time your certificate expires, then you may not have to take any courses to renew your certificate. MSDE does have a “senior teacher exemption”. This exemption is on a year to year basis approved by the superintendent of the LSS.


  8. How many credits will I need to move to the next salary lane? To move from the bachelor's to the master’s degree/master's equivalency lane, you need either a conferred master's degree or 36 acceptable credits beyond the conferred bachelor’s degree. Twenty-one (21) of these credits must be semester hours at the graduate level. The remaining fifteen (15) may be a combination of MSDE- Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in-service credits, graduate, or undergraduate credits. Up to 6 BEBCO credits for internship experiences can be used for salary advancement only, not towards certification. See related document

    To move to the Master’s+30 or Master’s+60, you would need to complete twelve (12) semester hours in each salary lane and the remaining eighteen (18) credits may be any combination of CPD in-service, graduate, undergraduate, BEBCO, or CEU equivalent credits.


  9. What kinds of classes may I take? For salary advancement, to renew a certificate, or to receive reimbursement, you may take any coursework that is related to your current assignment, an anticipated educational assignment, or to the general field of education. If there are questions about the kinds of courses you are interested in taking please call the Office of Certification before taking the class.


  10. How do I get reimbursed for courses I've taken? You may be reimbursed for up to nine (9) semester hours per fiscal year (July 1-June 30). The reimbursement cycle is summer, fall, and spring. The current rate for reimbursement is $250.00 per graduate credit. Ask in your school office for a Request for Reimbursement form. Complete the form and send it to the Office of Certification at the completion of the course, along with an official transcript and an invoice that lists a breakdown of tuition fees showing a balance of $0.00. The transcript and invoice must be attached to the form. See related information

  11. How can I tell what credits are on record for me? You may contact the Office of Certification (X5768 or X4147) and request that a copy of your Growth Chart be emailed  to you. This is the record of all your coursework received beyond your highest degree earned at the time of your employment. You may also sign up for an individual appointment with the Department of Personnel Hiring Office in charge of your subject area to review your entire file


  12. What does the term acceptable credit mean? Acceptable credit is defined as credit taken at a regionally accredited institution of higher education (IHE) or through Baltimore County Public Schools as in-service (CPD) credit. Coursework must first relate to teaching or work assignment, or to another field leading towards a certification endorsement. Courses must carry a grade of “C” or above or “pass” and must be earned within 5 years immediately preceding the date on which the certificate is issued or endorsement is requested.


  13. Are CEU’s, BEBCO and contact hours acceptable for salary credit? Only for certain employee types. Refer to related page


  14. May I take a video course, correspondence course, or other distance-learning course for certification? It depends on whether it is taken for acceptable credits. These types of courses may be acceptable for certification and/or salary purposes if you take them for undergraduate or graduate credit though regionally accredited institutions. To ensure this type of course work is acceptable, Baltimore County employees should contact our office before taking such a course.


  15. When I receive my master’s degree can I just submit a letter from the college or do you need a transcript? An official transcript documenting the date the degree was conferred must verify changes in degree status. A letter from the college or university verifying completion of degree requirements is not acceptable for certification or salary purposes. Records cannot be updated and certification requests will not be processed without official documentation.

  16. I just completed my master’s degree.  Will my certificate change?  Degree and name changes to certificates will be made at the time of renewal.

  17. My college does not issue grade slips with a seal. Can I submit a grade slip I print from the Internet or a copy of my grade slip? No, photocopies of grade reports and transcripts and Internet grades will not be accepted. You must submit an official transcript.


  18. I took some courses abroad; will you accept those credits? College credit earned from an institution outside of the United States requires a course-by-course evaluation from an agency approved by MSDE.


  19. How do I know if I need to take reading classes and which ones do I need? All classroom teachers must present a certain number of reading credits. The number and kind depends on the subject and grade level listed on your certificate. In general the following will apply:
    Twelve (12) semester hours are required for early childhood education, elementary education, and special education at those levels. Six (6) semester hours are required for secondary education (i.e. math, science), N-12/K-12 education (i.e. music) and special education at those levels. See related information


  20. I am an administrator. Do I need reading credits? If you have not met the reading requirement by renewal time, your certificate cannot be renewed with your teaching endorsements still listed on the certificate. Non-instructional administrators who hold MD teacher certification may choose to drop their subject area endorsement(s) rather than take the reading course work. However, if at a later date they seek an instructional position, then they will be required to reinstate their subject area endorsement(s).


  21. How long do I have to meet these new requirements? Teachers needing more then 6 semester hours of reading course work must submit a minimum of 6 semester hours within the first issued or renewed certificate AFTER January 1, 1999 and the remaining 6 semester hours during the second renewal period. We will be checking your bachelor’s degree for reading credits already taken because they can be used to satisfy the requirement.

    Teachers needing 6 semester hours or less will have one renewal period (first issued or renewed certificate after 1/1/99). For lists of reading courses, visit related MSDE web site www.msde.state.md.us

  22. Who is exempt? Most specialist and administrative areas of certification are not affected by the reading. However, an individual who hold certification in either a specialist or administrative area AND a teacher area, must meet the reading requirements OR forfeit the teacher area on your certificate.

    Guidance Counselors, Reading Teacher/Specialists, , Pupil Personnel Workers, Psychometrist, School Psychologists, Occupational and Physical Therapists, Speech Pathologists, Audiologists, and all Non-Instructional Administrators are exempt unless they hold and wish to continue to hold a teaching area on their certificate.


  23. Am I “highly qualified” or how can I become “highly qualified”? Please refer to the NCLB link on the web site. It will direct you to the most recent information.

QUESTIONS REGARDING TESTING

  1. What do Praxis tests cover? Praxis I consists of 3 separate tests that assess the applicant's general understanding of reading, writing, and mathematics, not their ability to teach these subjects. Praxis II assesses both content area knowledge and pedagogy (the art of teaching). The MSDE web site provides the specific numbers for each subject area or you may contact the testing service at www.ets.org.


  2. When I took my Praxis tests, I put in a code to have the scores sent to the Maryland State Department of Education.  Why do you need for me to personally send you a copy? ETS will only send test results to State Departments of Education. MSDE does not notify school systems of individual test results. Therefore you will have to send a photocopy to our office.

  3. How do I register to take the Praxis tests?
    Go to the Educational Testing website at www.ets.org/praxis then go to the State of Maryland.
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