Penn GSE

Urban Teaching Apprenticeship


The middle level education program is a hybrid program intended to meet the requirements of PA certification, to address the needs of urban 4-8 students, and to support the aspirations of those who seek to teach this special age group.

Since every apprentice seeking this certification must be able to assume responsibility for a self-contained classroom, these apprentices take all of the methods courses, seminars, and special topics required of those seeking PreK-4 certification.

The differences between the Grades 4-8 program and the PreK-4 program are primarily these:

  1. Grades 4-8 apprentices take Adolescent Development rather than Child Development.
  2. Grades 4-8 apprentices add one advanced methods course in their content specialty.
  3. Placements
    1. Placements in Summer Sites may be in the fall placement neighborhood or may be in a setting that serves middle years students specifically.
    2. Fall student teaching will begin in a Grade 4-6 self-contained setting or a departmentalized Grade 4-6 setting where the apprentice follows one group of students through their day, working with each teacher who teaches these students while taking PreK-8 methods courses.
    3. Wednesday morning student teaching placements will be in a content-specific Grade 7-8 classroom.
    4. Grade 4-8 apprentices transition into content-specific 6th, 7th, or 8th grade classrooms.

The apprenticeship in the middle level program differs from traditional teacher education programs where the student teacher spends only a short period—perhaps as little as 12 weeks—student teaching. Our apprenticeships span 10 months, with up to 800 hours of fieldwork, and are intended to immerse the student in the teaching environment.

Pennsylvania Grades 4-8 Certification

Upon successful completion of all components of the Urban Teaching Apprenticeship Program (required coursework and student teaching apprenticeships), including obtaining clearances and completing prerequisite coursework, students receive faculty recommendation for instructional 1 certification, which is awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. PDE requires that all applicants for instructional 1 certification be either U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are willing to submit a form indicating intention of applying for U.S. citizenship.

All applicants for the middle level certificate must have completed a minimum of two English courses (one a writing course and one a British or American literature course) and two math courses. In addition, a number of courses related to the certification subject are required. Upon admission, we work with students to determine if they need additional courses to satisfy these certification requirements.

While we offer faculty recommendation for Pennsylvania certification, many of our students obtain Pennsylvania certification and then move to other states or countries. There is a NASDTEC Interstate Agreement to facilitate movement by teachers among states. We recommend, therefore, that students obtain Pennsylvania certification even if they plan to teach in other states.