State Recertification Requirements & Recommendations for All Teachers of English Learners

In 2019, the SupportEd team was wondering how many and which states require that all teachers receive professional development (PD) on teaching English learners (ELs) in order to meet recertification requirements. We were already familiar with the literature on which states require training on teaching ELs for pre-service teachers and initial certification, but what did it look like for in-service teachers? We couldn’t find any research on this important EL equity topic, so we decided to do it ourselves. To answer our question, we undertook an extensive research study. We are pleased to release our paper that presents an analysis of the recertification PD requirements by state for in-service general education teachers as they relate to EL education. The paper begins with an introduction, followed by descriptions of our guiding questions, data, and findings. Following the findings is a discussion of recommendations to strengthen the preparation of all teachers to fully support English learners in their classrooms. The paper closes with a conclusion and includes appendices containing more detailed information related to data collection. ➤ Click Here to Read the Full Report

Key Findings 

Our key findings include:
  • In many (but not all) states, recertification in general is required every five years and necessitates evidence of continued learning such as college credit or semester hours, continuing education units, or PD hours.
  • The overwhelming majority of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, do not currently have a policy in place that requires general education teachers to complete any amount of English learner–related professional development in order to renew their general education certification.
  • Four states have some type of English learner PD requirement in place for certification renewal: Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York.
  • Some states have a requirement for districts to offer English learner PD, although completing the English learner PD is not a requirement for teachers to renew their certification. These states include, but are not limited to, California, Florida, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Our Recommendations

Based on our findings, our recommendations are the following:
  1. States should require all teachers to engage in some kind of high-quality professional development and certification around teaching English learners.
  2. Professional development topics should reflect the realities of today’s schooling, including supporting ELs academically and social-emotionally in face-to-face as well as distance learning environments.
  3. State legislatures should collaborate with key stakeholders such as state education agencies (SEAs), local education agencies (LEAs), teacher education programs, English learner educators, and English learner advocacy groups in order to assess teacher professional development needs and develop recertification policies and procedures that support adequate preparation for all teachers of English learners.
  4. SEAs should analyze models being used in other states to promote training and preparation for all educators of English learners to determine which models might be most appropriate and viable in their context.
  5. SEAs and LEAs should offer incentives and opportunities for general educators to take courses related to language acquisition, language pedagogy, and culturally responsive instruction, among others.
  6. SEAs and LEAs should seek opportunities to elevate the role of the English learner specialist.
  7. SEAs and LEAs should support flexible ways for educators to engage in PD related to instruction of English learners, such as online courses, English learner–focused book studies, and professional learning community discussion groups.
  8. SEAs and LEAs should collaborate with local colleges and universities to develop programs to encourage bilingual populations of high school students and teacher assistants to become teachers.

➤ Click Here to Read State Recertification Requirements and Recommendations for All Teachers of English Learners

About SupportEd

SupportEd, LLC is a woman-owned small business based in Fairfax, VA specializing in Multilingual Learners (MLs). Founded in 2011 by Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner, best-selling author and ML expert, SupportEd meticulously crafts customized solutions to fit each client’s strengths, needs, and provides teachers and administrators the practical tools necessary to champion MLs’ success within and beyond the classroom. All SupportEd team members have prior experience in the classroom which enables the SupportEd team to provide realistic, actionable solutions. Services include online and in-person immersive professional development workshops, easy-to-implement tools and resources, and an array of supporting services. Visit or call (202) 660-1444 to learn more.