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​CSPG 69 - Grades PK-4

​Instructional Area Code 2825
Modified: June 14, 2023

The Grades PK-4 certificate focuses on delivering content learning to the PK-4 child with a focus on childhood development and family-centered practice.

Grade-Level Scope of Certificate

A person holding a valid Pennsylvania certificate for Grades PK-4 is qualified to teach all courses from PK (nursery/age three) through fourth grade (age nine).

Certification Assignment

An educator holding a valid Pennsylvania certificate for Grades PK-4 is qualified to teach foundational subject matter content in the areas of language, literacy (including foundations of reading), math, science, social studies, arts/humanities, career readiness, and motor development/health.

In addition, teachers possessing a PK-4 certificate are qualified to teach art, music, business, computer and information technology, library science, and health and physical education only to their own students within a pre-kindergarten through grade four self-contained classroom.

With recommended trainings, educators holding Grades PK-4 certification may teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses. (Other Instructional certificates may teach STEM courses based on course content and the type of credit being given.)

Title I Reading Implementation: The implementation of remedial/diagnostic activities by Grades PK-4 certified teachers directed by a certified reading specialist is permitted. The Grades PK-4 certified teacher may carry out the prescriptions provided by the directing reading specialist but can neither diagnose nor determine the remedial plan of action for students without the involvement of a certified reading specialist. 

Special Considerations

  • Pennsylvania educators who currently hold the Grades PK-4 certificate can extend the certification grade span to include Grades 5-6 based on testing alone. This policy does not pertain to any subject area except Grades PK-4.
  • An LEA may make a written request to the Secretary of Education for an exception to certification grade and age level limitations between Early Childhood, Elementary/Middle, Special Education PK-8 and Special Education 7-12 for individual teachers on a case-by-case basis (22 Pa. Code §49.85 – Limitations). The school entity shall submit a written request that provides justification for the exception to PDE's Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality. If approved, PDE will issue a letter of response that will contain a set time period for the exception to remain valid.
  • An educator certified in Grades PK-4 may:
    • Provide professional development related to their collegial studies;
    • Serve in the role of mentor advisor; and
    • Assist students in understanding how to read content area materials.

Certificate Clarifications

An Early Childhood N-3 certificate remains valid as a certificate for teaching this program with the exception of the fourth grade. PDE discontinued issuing the Early Childhood N-3 certificate as of August 31, 2013.

The Elementary K-6 certificate remains valid as a certificate for teaching in kindergarten through grade 6. PDE discontinued issuing the Elementary K-6 certificate as of August 31, 2013.

The Grades PK-4 certificate (or the older Early Childhood N-3 certificate) is required for teaching in a Pre-K Counts program. The PK-4 certificate (or the older Early Childhood N-3 certificate) is valid for an Early Intervention program.


A person holding an Elementary K-6 certificate may be assigned to kindergarten (age 4), kindergarten (age 5), and first through sixth grades. The Elementary K-6 certification may not be used in a Pre-K Counts program, in an Early Intervention program, or for nursery (age 3) programs.

Effective September 1, 2003, an educator holding a Grades PK-4 certificate is not certified to teach computer and technology courses outside of the self-contained classroom. Computer and technology instruction in grades K-12 requires Business, Computer, and Information Technology K-12 certification. This includes keyboarding, word processing, information processing, working with a database, spreadsheet manipulation, desktop publishing, accessing shared information resources via networks or Internet, multimedia, web page design, and other emerging software. Access CSPG 33 for more information. From the 2004-05 school year to June 2011 there was a temporary easing of this requirement. However, as of Aug. 1, 2011, newly assigned technology and computer education teachers may not be Elementary K-6, Grades PK-4 or Grades 4-8 certified teachers. Computer Science can be taught with recommended training by an educator with Grades PK-4 certification. Please review CSPG 7​1 for information regarding Computer Science instruction at the elementary level.


Program Specific Guidelines for Grades PK-4

Pa. Public School Code:         §1202, §1212, §1604

22 Pa. Code:   

Chapter 4       §4.22, §4.23

Chapter 49:   §49.11, §49.81, §49.142, §49.85

This revision supersedes all earlier CSPGs carrying this number and/or addressing this subject. Previous CSPG printing dates on this subject: 2/61, 3/75, 1/87, 3/88, 3/92, 7/04, 5/05, 8/12, 3/14

Summary of Changes

​Date of Revisions​Major Changes to CSPG #69
  • ​Updated formatting and terminology.
  • Add information regarding STEM instruction.
  • Clarified restrictions regarding computer and technology instruction.
  • ​Addition of Grades 5 and 6 test add-on policy.
  • Addition of information from Ch. 49.85(d) – provision for an exception to staffing for PK-4 certificates.
  • ​Created certificate area of Grades PK-4 replacing Elementary K-6 (CSPG 41) and Early Childhood N-3 (CSPG #39).
  • The Elementary K-6 certificate and the Early Childhood N-3 certificate are no longer issued as of 9/1/2013.
  • The Grades PK-4 certificates were first issued 12/2010. The Grades 4-8 certificates were first issued 12/1/2009.

​CSPG #41 – Elementary Education K-6

  • Elimination of administrative decision of 2004-05 to allow Elementary K-6 certified teachers to provide full computer education at the elementary grade level. Elementary certified teachers (and grades PK-4 teachers) may not provide computer education except in or to a self-contained classroom, or as part of the implementation of the elementary classroom content.
  • Clarification of a memo issued 6/2002: Teachers hired to teach computer education on any Instructional I or II certificate prior to 9/1/2003, under CSPG #113 of 12/1990, may continue in such an assignment. If a break occurs in the assignment within the district to teach computer education then the assignment must be filled by one of the appropriate certificates listed in CSPG #33.
  • Removal of Bridge certificate program options as a special consideration – final program expiration was 7/1/2008 (programs initiated 7/1/2005) and 7/1/2009 (programs initiated 7/1/2006).
  • Elementary K-6 certified teachers may not be assigned to a seventh and eighth grade level assignment after 6/1/2006 (or if completing the Bridge certificate program may not be assigned to seventh and eighth grade after the Bridge program three-year window of 7/1/2008-09).

​Elementary K-6 certified teachers may teach remedial reading other than diagnostic/prescriptive reading to students whose grade norms fall below seventh grade (may teach Title I Reading under a reading specialist’s direction).


​CSPG #41 – Elementary Education K-6

  • Previously CSPG #48 of 3/1988 – Elementary Education and Assignment Scope.
  • Elementary K-6 certified teachers may be assigned to teach developmental reading at grade levels kindergarten through sixth only; provision of CSPG #48 of 3/1988 for Elementary K-6 certified teachers to teach developmental reading to grade levels kindergarten through twelve was eliminated.
  • CSPG #83 and #84 of 1/1987 combined into the contents of CSPG #41 of 7/2004.

​CSPG #53 – Early Childhood Education Certification and Assignment Scope (N-3)

  • Previously CSPG #53 of 3/1975 - Early Childhood Education Certification and Assignment Scope N-3.
  • Nursery programs conducted by a public school entity require certification even though the program is not state mandated.
  • Beginning with the 1992-93 school year child care services vocational occupational curriculum must hold a Home Economics certificate. A person holding a certificate in Early Childhood Education or an Elementary Education certificate endorsed for Child Care and Development, who was teaching the child care services vocational occupational curriculum prior to the 1992-93 school year, may continue in that position.
  • A certificate endorsed for home economics does not qualify the holder for early childhood education.

​CSPG #48 – Elementary Education and Assignment Scope Elementary K-6 certified teachers may not teach remedial reading classes but may teach developmental reading at any grade level, (kindergarten through twelve).


​CSPG #83 – Elementary Teachers to Instruction Specialized Areas

  • Elementary Education certificate may be used to teach specialized subject areas to students assigned within the self-contained classroom: art, developmental reading, music, and health and physical education.
  • When students from numerous self-contained classrooms are regrouped to constitute a “special subject” classroom the teacher certificated for elementary education is not qualified for instructional assignment in: agriculture, art, environmental education, foreign languages, health, home economics, industrial arts, library science, music, and physical education.

CSPG #84 – Elementary Teachers to Instruct at the Secondary Grade Level

  • Elementary certificates (kindergarten through grade eight) issued prior to 7/1/1969 were valid for teaching elementary subjects in kindergarten through eighth grade in an eight-four school organization, or seventh and eighth grade in a six-three-three school organization; valid for teaching elementary subjects in an approved elementary or middle school.
  • Elementary K-6 certified teachers may be used to perform the duties of an elementary teacher at any specific grade level at a designated grade within an approved elementary school or middle school.
  • Elementary K-6 certified teachers may teach elementary level subjects to students at the secondary level (except special education students), in correction education programs, and in detention centers and homes when grade level achievement norms of such students are below grade seven.

​CSPG #53 – Early Childhood Education Certification and Assignment Scope N-3

  • Elementary K-6 certified teachers may not teach corrective or remedial reading.
  • Removed policies for Foreign Language endorsement at elementary level with six semester hours: Library Science endorsement at the elementary level with 12 semester hours (Regulations – College Certificates in Elementary Education 2/1961).
  • Only persons holding certificates endorsed for Early Childhood Education are properly assigned to nursery programs when such programs are offered under the local board of school directors. Elementary Education certificates are not appropriate except for kindergarten services.

​Regulations – College Certificates in Elementary Education

  • Lists basic requirements for issuance of an Elementary certificate:
  • Gives information on endorsements that can be added; refers to conditions for teaching at the secondary level with an elementary certificate.