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​​Act 48 Approved Provider Guidelines

Eligible Prospective Providers | Steps and Process to Become an Approved Provider | Provider Requirements for Approved Applications | Relationship of Offerings to the Educator's Area of Certification | Higher Education Institutions Applying for Approval of Noncredit Continuing Education Courses | Providing Act 48 Hours | Is PDE Approval always required? | Trainer Credentials | How is Act 48 of 1999 related to Act 45 of 2007? | Approved Provider Application Standards

Updated: October 2020


Ensuring that all Pennsylvania children receive the high-quality education that they deserve requires an effective educator in every classroom. It is essential to have school and district leadership who are focused on raising achievement. Pennsylvania's educators – from classroom teachers to district superintendents – are the most important components of educational success.

As professionals in an ever-changing society, the Pennsylvania's educators are required to continuously upgrade their knowledge and skills, just as lawyers, doctors, accountants, and other licensed professionals. Pennsylvania's educator professional development law, known as Act 48 of 1999 describes the requirements that apply to certified educational professionals. Professional development must be based on sound research and promising practices of educator effectiveness, consistent with 24 P.S. §11-1138.1 et seq. and must be part of an approved plan for building educators' skills over the long term.

All certified educators must complete 180 hours of professional development every five years. The 180-hour requirement can be met with:

  • Six college credits; six credits of continuing professional education courses;
  • 180 hours of continuing professional education programs, activities or learning experiences; or
  • Any combination of collegiate studies, continuing professional education courses, or other programs, activities or learning experiences equivalent to 180 clock hours.

For the purposes of calculating hours and credits, one semester credit of collegiate study or continuing professional education coursework is equivalent to 30 hours of professional development.

These guidelines are intended to assist independent providers of non-collegiate credit professional education courses, programs, trainings, and activities in completing the process to obtain approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), as required by the Pennsylvania School Code 24 P.S. §12-1205.2(d). Prospective providers must make a representation of their offerings in their application as part of the approval process. Approvals are granted for a period of three years.

Eligible Prospective Providers

All entities or individuals that intend to serve as Act 48 professional development providers must seek approval through the application process contained in these guidelines. Eligible providers include:

  1. Institutions of higher education for their noncredit continuing education courses.
  2. Private and non-public schools;
  3. Professional associations;
  4. Non-governmental organizations;
  5. Non-profit organizations;
  6. Corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies; and
  7. Sole proprietors (individuals).

Steps and Process to Become an Approved Provider

To begin a new application, the HELP DESK,, will request details to ensure the appropriate application is provided. When all requested information is provided by the applicant, a reviewer will be assigned, and the applicant will be notified.

Here are the steps to be​come an approved provider:

  1. Private schools in PA and non-school institutions/businesses providing face-to-face and/or online professional development in PA need to apply for a business entity number (EN) via the PA Department of State. The business entity number, EN, is different than an EIN, which is for tax purposes.
    • If your entity has an existing EN, you can search your business entity number at the PA Department of State.
    • If your entity does not have an existing EN, the process and assignment of an EN can be done quickly. Please follow the ​Guidelines (PDF) to complete the registration.
    • If you have questions regarding the process, PA One-Stop Shop can assist.
  2. Once an EN is provided, an ​applicant will receive the appropriate application and guidelines within 3 business days via email from the reviewer.
  3. The timeframe for approval for all applicants of the Approved Provider Plan is typically 30–90 days. There are times that the process may be shorter or longer dependent upon the application itself and response time by the applicant. For example, once a reviewer sends an application to the applicant, the applicant has 30 days to respond. In turn, the reviewer has 30 days to review the application for approval or requested edits and clarifications. The process continues in this manner until final approval is granted.
  4. New providers will be assigned an Administrative Unit Number (AUN) by the reviewer once the application is approved. The AUN is the organization's identification in the PERMS system that permits access and uploading of ACT 48 hours for participants of the provider's trainings and professional development. Note, existing providers already have an AUN.

Provider Requirements for Approved Applications

  1. Providers must upload continuing professional education hours/credits into PDE's PERMS system within 30 days of an educator's completion of an activity.
  2. Providers must maintain completion records for each activity for a period of seven years. Records should consist of, at minimum, the activity description, participant rosters with individual professional personal identification number, and evaluations.
  3. Providers must provide individual participants with a record of the activity completed and the number of Act 48 professional development hours earned.
  4. Providers must conduct an internal quality review to ensure that all activities are updated based on participant feedback and advances in professional knowledge.
  5. Providers do not need to get approval for each course you add during your ACTIVE approved status. During the authorization period, you can upload any new course hours as they long as they meet the requirements of the approved application.

Relationship of Offerings to the Educator's Area of Certification

Act 48 (24 P.S. §12-1205.2(c)) requires that continuing professional education programs, activities, or learning experiences be "related to an area of the professional educator's assignment or certification." Therefore, applicants must designate which teaching certifications are supported by the proposed offerings. PDE provides a listing of the various certifications on its website.

Higher Education Institutions Applying for Approval of Noncredit Continuing Education Courses

All noncredit continuing education offerings at individual campuses must be consolidated or bundled within a single application under a single point of contact. The institution bears overall responsibility for assuring that all its Act 48 professional development noncredit offerings in different component colleges, departments, or centers of study are rigorous, current, and aligned with the Danielson Framework for Teaching, consistent with Act 13 of 2020 (24 P.S. §11-1138 et seq.). In each subsequent approval cycle, the single point of contact is responsible for submitting a consolidated application proposing renewal of any offerings previously approved that the institution desires to continue offering, along with any new proposed offerings. The designated single point of contact is designated on the application and responsible for coordinating the uploading of participant Act 48 professional development hours directly into PDE's Professional Education Record Management System (PERMS) for all component colleges, departments, or centers of study within the institution.

Accredited Pennsylvania institutions of higher education with PDE-approved teacher preparation programs have the option of uploading Act 48 professional development hours for members of their teacher preparation faculty. By awarding these hours, the provider enables those educators to maintain active certification in conjunction with, or as a condition, of their academic teaching assignments. If the institution desires to pursue this option in its Act 48 Approved Provider Application, the dean or department head must submit to PDE, on letterhead, a list of faculty member participants (full name, professional personnel identification number and the academic department in which each is employed), along with a description of public-school improvement activities in which individual faculty members are or will be participating and identify the school district(s) involved.

Providing Act 48 Hours

Act 48 professional development hours can be granted for but not limited to:

  • Active involvement in working with public schools to improve student achievement;
  • Alignment of curricula with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards;
  • Alignment of instruction with the Observation and Practice ​Framework for Teaching, providing professional development or induction activities for certified educators;
  • Improving the scope and quality of formative assessment;
  • Use of interventions and safety nets for struggling students or similar activities;
  • Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators; and
  • Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
  • Mentors of educators ​and supervisors of student teachers (does not include pre-student teachers) may earn Act 48 credit only if the LEA approves the professional development hours.
  • Mentors/Supervisors may receive up to 15 hours per inductee or student teacher totaling no more than 45 hours in a compliance period.

Act 48 professional development hours cannot be granted for:

  • Paid consulting or activities for which faculty are otherwise compensated in their normal academic assignments, unless such activities are considered in-service training; and
  • Supervising pre-teachers.

Is PDE's approval always required?

Local education agencies (LEAs) (i.e., school districts, charter schools, intermediate units, and area vocational technical schools) often engage the services of external consultants and organizations to provide professional development activities. Similarly, LEAs frequently send educators to outside training activities and recognize those activities for Act 48 professional development hours if they are consistent with the goals and objectives of their own professional education programs. An educator participating in noncredit continuing education offerings given by a provider who has not been approved by PDE can receive Act 48 professional development hours through their employing LEA only if the LEA approves the professional development the educator attends. However, many LEAs will only upload Act 48 professional development hours for their own professional development in-service programs, and PDE does not dissuade LEAs from taking a rigorous approach to managing and controlling their own professional development programs and in-service offerings.

Trainer Credentials

All approved providers have the authority to employ trainers, who may be educators, consultants, agencies, or others, qualified to provide continuing professional education activities for educators in local school entities or other settings. Approved providers, as part of their approved provider application, must include a representation of their trainers' credentials and professional experience.

How is Act 48 of 1999 related to Act 45 of 2007?

Act 48 of 1999 established the requirement that all certificate holders must earn 180 hours of professional development every five years from an Act 48 Approved Provider. Act 45 of 2007 (24 P.S. §12-1205.5) defines requirements for continuing professional education taken by Pennsylvania school or system leaders in specific covered positions (i.e., principals, assistant principals, superintendents, assistant superintendents, intermediate unit executive directors, assistant intermediate unit executive directors, or directors of area vocational-technical schools). To provide professional development activities that are creditable to school and system leaders under Act 45, an organization must first obtain Act 45 Pennsylvania Inspired Leaders approval. The Act 45 application and approval process are explained in the PA Inspired Leadership Legislation FAQs.

Approved Provider Application Standards

To receive approval as an Act 48 professional development provider, applicants must satisfactorily provide general information and demonstrate that they meet the following application standards.

General Application Information: Includes contact information; applicant type; list of all activities; eligible participants by area of certification; and estimated number of participants per year.

Standard 1: Professional development activities have clear objectives for increasing student achievement and school success.

Standard 2: Professional development activities are based on principles of adult learning theory to engage educators in professional growth.

Standard 3: Professional development activities are aligned to at least one component of one domain within the Danielson Framework for Teaching.

Standard 4: Professional development activities are aligned with the current and applicable Pennsylvania Core Standards or Pennsylvania Academic Standards.

Standard 5: Professional development activities utilize a curriculum that is based on research or best practice and a delivery model that emphasizes sustained, job-embedded professional development.

Standard 6: The provider assesses participant proficiency through an end-of-course assessment.

Standard 7: The provider assesses participant satisfaction and impact on professional practice through surveys of all enrollees that are used by the provider for continuous improvement.

Standard 8: Effectiveness of the offerings is evaluated through multiple measures of student achievement within the context of educator effectiveness to determine impact on student learning, educator effectiveness and/or school performance.