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Educational Specialists

This page was created on September 2, 2020.

Given the impact of the pandemic on the state's education system and reduced access to in-person school settings, the Department of Education recognizes that educator preparation programs may need to provide alternatives for students to meet the required number of internship and/or practicum hours.  The following emergency program guidelines outline minimum requirements that must be included in any allowable alternative field experiences for educational specialist, supervisory, and administrator candidates expected to complete their programs during the 2020-21 academic year. Please be advised that these emergency guidelines are limited in duration to the 2020-21 academic year.

Preparation programs must utilize the following strategies to assess students who are unable to complete the traditional internship/practicum, field, or clinical experience before recommending those students for certification:

  • Implement a research- and competency-based evaluation system for candidates impacted by COVID-19-related school closures; and
  • Provide targeted technical assistance during the 2021-22 school year to Pennsylvania local education agencies that hire educational specialists impacted by these program modifications. 

To implement the competency-based evaluation system, approved educational specialist program providers will:

  1. Document candidate's progress to-date in any internship or practicum.  Evaluation should be based on completed field experiences to date, which have been accomplished at all institutions of higher education (IHEs). Institutions are required to use evaluation tools that align with their program framework guidelines to make determinations about specific areas for growth and support.

  2. Implement a wide array of engagement activities to approximate activities that would normally be associated with the field experiences.  Activities will be designed by individual preparation programs to afford candidates the opportunity to master competencies in each of the major domains.  Activities may include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Online collaboration with mentors;
  • Planning and preparing portfolio projects;
  • Completion of projects related to practice;
  • Observation and simulation experiences; and
  • Other assignments designed, implemented, and evaluated by IHE faculty.
  1. Complete summative evaluations for each candidate based on a) progress in the program to date; and b) satisfactory completion of additional activities assigned by the preparation program.  Preparation programs must keep a copy of this completed evaluation in the candidate's education record as proof of satisfying the approved alternative to the traditional field experience assignment.

    Preparation programs that complete the process described above may: a) indicate in the TIMS certification application that a candidate who demonstrates a satisfactory level of performance or higher has completed the field experience requirements; and b) recommend the candidate for certification. Candidates must satisfy all other requirements for certification.

*Preparation programs must ensure field, internship, or practicum requirements that are necessary to satisfy licensure through the Pennsylvania Department of State are aligned and candidates are able to be licensed accordingly.