Advising Handbook for B.S. in Mathematics
Secondary Certification Concentration

This handbook provides students and advisors with all of the relevant information for attaining a BS in Mathematics with a Pennsylvania-issued certificate to teach mathematics in grades 7 through 12. Most states surrounding Pennsylvania will accept the certificate.  This online handbook offers an outline of the four-year program at Shippensburg University.  Every attempt has been made to maintain accuracy throughout; but, official college publications and Commonwealth of PA guidelines remain the fixed authority in the event of any institution.  

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Table of Contents

Section 1: The Mission of the Program

Section 2: Advising

Section 3: Planning Your Course of Study

Section 4: Professional Requirements

Section 5: Professional Experiences: The Three "Levels"

Section 6: Documents

Section 1: The mission of the program

The mission of the Secondary Certification Concentration program is to successfully prepare undergraduate students for careers in teaching secondary mathematics. Students will be equipped with strong content knowledge, be cognizant of the best practices in teaching mathematics, be familiar with the current national and state standards related to teaching mathematics, and possess the skills and expertise to use state-of-the-art technology in secondary school mathematics classrooms. The program will provide certification majors with the foundation and foresight necessary to engage in further graduate studies and/or lifelong learning opportunities.

The Secondary Certification Concentration is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and includes methods-of-teaching-mathematics courses approved by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

Section 2: Advising

As a secondary certification student, you will be assigned two advisors – an Academic Advisor and a Certification Advisor.  The roles of these two advisors are described below. 

Academic Advisor

You will be assigned an Academic Advisor at the beginning of your freshman year.  You must meet with your Academic Advisor prior to registering for each semester to be released into the registration process. Your academic advisor can assist you with:

If, at any time, you prefer to have a different Academic Advisor, please contact the department secretary for reassignment.

Certification Advisor

The mathematics education faculty members within the department serve as Certification Advisors for all of the secondary certification majors. The assignment of your Certification Advisor will typically occur in the second semester of your freshman year.  Your Certification Advisor will assist you with:

Make sure you meet with your Certification Advisor at least once each semester to monitor your progress toward certification.  This meeting is also prerequisite to your being cleared (each semester) to register for courses.  Information on your progress will be documented by your Certification Advisor and shared with your Academic Advisor.

If, at any time, you prefer to have a different certification advisor, please contact the department secretary for reassignment.

Section 3: Planning Your Course of Study

Secondary Certification concentration students earn a B.S. in Mathematics with certification to teach mathematics in grades 7 – 12 in Pennsylvania.  The program requires:

Secondary Certification concentration students have some state-mandated general education course requirements that are clearly indicated on the Check Sheet (see below) and described in the requirements for Professional Standing.  Courses with prerequisites and those that are prerequisites must be scheduled accordingly.  The Suggested Course Schedule (see below) and the Course Frequency Chart (see below) should be consulted when making your course selections and in planning your program of study.  Your Academic Advisor will work with you to make appropriate course sequence decisions.  

B.S. in Mathematics and General Education Check Sheet

The B.S. in Mathematics Check Sheet shows the math courses and education courses that you will need to complete for the Secondary Certification Mathematics concentration. The General Education Check Sheet shows the General Education courses you should take. Pay special attention to the more specific General Education requirements for Secondary Certification majors!

The Check Sheets of courses required for the math major can be found at the links below:

Suggested Course Schedule

A sample four-year schedule for completing the Secondary Certification program can be found below.

Course Frequency Chart

The Mathematics Department course offerings for the next two years can be found below.

Certification Timeline

There are many steps required along the way to achieve secondary certification.  A timeline has been created to show you chronologically how the major components are sequenced.  This timeline can be found here.

Section 4: Professional Requirements

I. Professional Gates

There are several Professional Gates, designations for the progress that students are making in completing the requirements for certification. Each gate contains a set of requirements that must be met before a teacher candidate may advance to the next Gate. The expected due dates and requirements for the Gates can also be found on the Certification Timeline.

Gate 1: Admission to Certification Program

The following must be completed prior to registering for your first TCH or EEC course. Upon completion you will be considered as having passed through Gate 1.

Gate 2: Professional Standing

The following must be completed prior to admittance into EDU 434. Upon completion of these requirements you will be considered as having passed through Gate 2.

Gate 3: Admission to Student Teaching

The following must be completed prior to admittance into student teaching. Upon completion of these requirements you will be considered as having passed through Gate 3.

Gate 4: Program Completion

The following must be completed during student teaching. Upon completion of these requirements you will be considered as having passed through Gate 4.

II. Standardized Tests for Certification

Students must pass the following standardized tests by the deadlines indicated to continue in the program.  Mathematics Department faculty can point students to materials for test preparation and can provide assistance. 

Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA)

The Pennsylvania Department of Education requires all teacher candidates to obtain a passing score on the PAPA. The Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) from Pearson Evaluation is the new basic skills test covering reading, writing, and math.  Effective April 2, 2012 it must be taken by all undergraduate certification candidates who do not have a high enough SAT score to receive a waiver or are a 2nd degree candidate.

The PAPA should be successfully completed prior to taking any TCH or EDU courses; the Gates require you to take these exams at some point during your freshman year.. Effective March 2012, 2nd degree candidates do NOT have to take a basic skills test for certification purposes in PA.

Praxis II

This test assesses proficiency in high-school and early-college mathematics. As passing score is required for state certification.



Be sure to sign up for Test #5161 (Mathematics: Content Knowledge – 2 hours – graphing calculator required) as they have many different math tests!  Testing dates and registration information are available from the Educational Testing Services website at, and specific test information can be found at

III. Applying to Student Teach

The Student Teacher Application Form is to be completed and submitted with the Application for Professional Standing Level Two, due by December 1st of your junior year in addition to all of your Pre Methods Experiences (See Section 5) as part of passage through Gate 2.

IV. Clearances

An FBI background check and fingerprinting is required of all prospective teachers and remains valid while you are a Shippensburg University student. Students must also complete an Act 34 Criminal Record Clearance, an Act 151 Child Abuse Clearance, and a TB tine test.  It is the responsibility of the student to make certain these clearances are completed and copies are submitted to the College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s office at the start of every fall semester beginning in the sophomore year. The Dean’s office shreds all documents each summer so it is important that you keep your originals and submit copies each fall semester, renewing all but the FBI background check each summer.

Please find more information here.

Note that most school districts require these clearances for early field experience also!  

Section 5: Professional Experiences

Three phases of professional experiences are required. They are labeled Pre-Methods (completed by December 1st of junior year, before taking the spring-semester methods course EDU434), Methods II (completed during the fall-semester course EDU435), and Student Teaching  

I. Pre-Methods Experiences

These experiences are completed during Freshman and Sophomore years under the supervision of your Certification Advisor.  These must be completed prior to applying for Professional Standing Level Two and passing through Gate 2, which is required to enroll in the methods-of-teaching-math courses.  Evidence and documentation of the experiences must be displayed in a TK20 portfolio.  A template for this portfolio (Math: Pre-Methods) is available through your TK20 account.

By no later than December 1st during the semester before you take Methods I, submit your Application for Professional Standing Level Two application to the Office of Field Experiences and Partnerships and notify your Certification Advisor that your TK20 portfolio, documenting the completion of your Pre-Methods Experiences, is ready for inspection, as listed under Gate 2 requirements. 

The following four required categories describe the requirements and acceptable activities for Pre-Methods Experiences.

1. Classroom Observations:

The student will spend at least 20 hours (i.e., the equivalent of three full school days) in direct classroom observation of mathematics instruction in secondary schools. Approximately half the time should be dedicated to observing in grades 7 and 8 (middle/junior high school), and the other half to observing in grades 9 through 12 (high school).  A variety of settings should be observed, including rural and urban settings.

Proper arrangements need to made, with proper permission granted by the authorities in the school where the observations will take place.  Copies of your clearances may be required.

For schools within an hour's drive of Shippensburg University, go through the Office of Field Experiences and Partnerships to plan your visits.  For schools farther away, you may make your own arrangements. A letter of introduction, verifying this observation visit is a requirement, may be obtained from the Office of Field Experiences and Partnerships.

Observations completed in any of your education courses may be counted toward this requirement, provided they are mathematics class observations.  If full days of observations cannot be arranged, partial days of observation can be used to accumulate hours equivalent to three full days.  One full day (or about seven hours) should be completed by the start of your Sophomore year. 

Evidence and Documentation – Provide documentation that you made of each observation by providing complete contact information for each teacher observed. Write a one- or two-page analysis of each of your observation experiences.  Respond to the following prompts:

Please note: The focus during observations is to foster beginning teacher thoughts – an understanding of how teacher actions and choices enable or hinder the acquisition of student mathematical knowledge. Time spent working as a substitute teacher does not count toward completion of Pre-Methods experiences.

2. Pre-Teaching Experiences:

Working with students one-on-one is an important part of teaching.  Valuable teaching skills can be learned by tutoring individuals or small groups.  These experiences also help the certification student learn more about himself or herself as a teacher.  Preapproval by the Certification Advisor is required as is appropriate evidence and documentation of the tutoring experience. 

There are two options for satisfying this requirement:

(1) The student will participate in at least 40 contact hours as a volunteer or paid mathematics tutor in a setting approved by the Certification Advisor.  This experience may include tutoring in the SU Math Department's tutoring center, but can also include outside work with students in grades 7-12 or college students. 

(2) Serve as a Course Assistant for a college math course in the Mathematics Department, under the supervision of a Mathematics faculty member. Again, 40 contact hours are required.

3. Professional Development Activities:

The student must participate in two or more of the following activities (or a similar activity approved by the Certification Advisor). The student will provide in the TK20 Pre-Methods Portfolio appropriate documentation as evidence of completion of this requirement.

Please note: Approval of Professional Development Activities that occur during substitute teaching is done on a case-by-case basis by your Certification Advisor. 

4. Service-Focused Activities: 

An important part of a teaching career is service to the school and community.  The activities below provide experience with assisting others.  The student must participate in one or more of the following activities (or a similar activity approved by the Certification Advisor). A total of 10 hours of participation is required. Appropriate documentation should be provided in TK20.

II. Methods II Field Experiences

Each student in the Methods II (EDU435) course receives two different placements to fulfill his or her clinical experience.  A middle-school placement and a high-school placement in different school districts are assigned. These experiences are designed to provide opportunities for students to work with cooperating teachers in classrooms where they may return for student teaching.  A TK20 portfolio of these pre-student teaching experiences is prepared as a course requirement for EDU435.  At the conclusion of the clinical experiences, classroom teachers and certification students assess the experiences and decide whether to continue with student teaching in these placements.

III. Student Teaching

Student Teaching is the capstone experience for secondary certification mathematics majors. This experience is usually completed during the final semester of the undergraduate program. Students must apply for student teaching by December 1 of their junior year.

The Student Teacher Application Form can be found here.

During the student teaching experience, student teachers, university supervisors and cooperating teachers in classrooms collaborate to facilitate each student teacher's professional growth and to prepare him/her as a qualified first-year teacher candidate.  A TK20 portfolio of student teaching experiences is prepared as a requirement.  Supervisory guidelines, observation and evaluation forms, and University policies are provided in the College of Education and Human Services’ Student Teaching Handbook.

The Student Teaching Handbook can be found here.

Section 6: Documents

Here are all of our forms gathered together in one place for you. After you feel that you have a good understanding of the certification process, you can just jump to these links for quick access to the forms.

Application for Professional Standing:   

Application for Student Teaching 

Math Major Check Sheet (all concentrations)

General Education Check Sheet

Clearances summary

Upcoming Mathematics Course Offerings

Office of Field Experiences and Partnerships Handbook

Secondary Certification Sample Schedule

Certification Timeline

Dispositions Form

Student Teaching Handbook 



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