Everything You Need to Know About Professional Development Credit with University of the Pacific
Posted January 7, 2020 by Teacher Friendly
Education doesn’t end for teachers when they get their degrees and secure a teaching job. But rather, teachers recognize that the science of teaching is constantly changing with emerging technologies in an evolving world. And teachers know the value of developing, sharpening, and updating their skills to remain on top of the game. Furthermore, they want to upgrade their content knowledge and pedagogical skills, not only to improve their teaching but to impact student learning and achievement. That’s why professional development is so important.
Types of Credit Offered
Since all states in the U.S. require certified teachers to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and some states also require a master’s degree upon hire or to complete one within the first five years of teaching, most professional development credit is at University of the Pacific, Benerd College is offered at the graduate level.
Teachers often choose to earn semester credits (e.g., fall, spring, and summer) toward additional certifications to teach at a wider range of grade levels or to concentrate on teaching a certain subject matter, in a specialty area, or at the administrative level.
Teaching professionals may also take any number of non-degree classes to enhance their everyday teaching or satiate any number of interests and passions. Popular selections today include classroom management, special education, literacy, autism, differentiation, teaching English as second language or courses that focus on instructional design, assessment, STEM, education technology, bullying prevention, mental health, stress management, character education, cultural diversity, 21st-century skills, and coursework specific to the subjects that are taught. There are virtually no limits to what is offered either in-person or online and in all types of formats from seminars and workshops to credit classes.
Typical Reasons for Receiving Credit
One reason that teachers seek professional development credit with University of the Pacific is for career advancement that enables them to teach preferred subjects or grade levels. Usually, these credits lead to salary advancement as well. Generally, there is a base salary provided for teachers within that designated school district or organization with additional money awarded based on the number of credits the professional has earned beyond a BA/BS degree. Each salary schedule is unique to either a distinct school, district, region, or state and is structured with levels, generally vertically based on years of teaching and horizontally based on an increment of credits. Teachers also routinely take professional development for recertification. The different state Departments of Education and educational organizations have outlined requirements for teachers to meet recertification. Again, this varies from state to state. For example, it might be to complete 6 credits within 5 years of pre-approved classes and receive a passing grade or to complete so many credits within a calendar year. And finally, skill-building, personal fulfillment, and life-long learning are other key reasons for earning credit.
Before receiving credit, generally, individuals need to provide the name of the university (e.g., University of the Pacific, Benerd College), the specific course titles/numbers, and their respective graduate level professional development semester credits per course. Ask if you need an official transcript upon completion and what the district’s deadlines are to apply for enrollment, reimbursement, salary advancement, etc.
Names for the Various Credit Offerings
There are many different names for professional development credit. Most people are familiar with the term “credits.” For example, so many credits are necessary to obtain a particular credential, certification, recertification, or degree. Graduate level credits are credits earned at an advanced level. It is common for individuals to apply for acceptance into a particular graduate program or to complete a specific specialization at a college or university that offers graduate classes. Upon acceptance, you are then eligible to enroll in graduate level coursework that yields credits.
Another option is to take the graduate courses without credit. You would still need to meet the required qualifying standards by the secondary institution/organization before enrolling in the graduate level classes. But then you would be able to select courses based on availability and interest.
In addition, some classes have designated credits but these credits don’t lead to a degree; they are considered non-degree credit. That means you get credit for the classes you take so these credits can be used for salary advancement, certification, and recertification but you don’t combine these credits to complete an advanced degree (e.g., MA or MS in a particular field).
Sometimes, Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are awarded for the coursework. One Continuing Education Unit is defined as 10 contact hours of participation in an organized continuing education experience with direction and qualified instruction from a college, university, or any association, company, or organization that meets standards established for a particular industry and accredited toward official CEUs. The particular courses have been approved by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and meet the proper criteria for continuing education and training. Certain school districts and organizations may require a specific number of CEUs each year to stay abreast of their field. The CEUs can also be used to renew licenses and advance on the salary schedule. Certificates are issued upon completion of a set of CEUs to prove completion.
There are additional terms used among school districts and states for post-baccalaureate credits. It is important to ask your Personnel Office to provide clarification about what is acceptable from the professional development you plan to pursue so you don’t waste your time or money when seeking professional development, or worse yet, not be able to meet certain expectations of your school or district. These terms are similar and include the terms: Graduate Level Credit, Graduate Level Units, Graduate Level Hours, and Graduate Level Units of Credit.
District Guidelines for Credit
You need to check with your school district or educational organization about their guidelines for credit acceptability. Often, there are forms to fill out for prior permission to take coursework for possible reimbursement and advancement or recertification. To save time, it would be advisable for you to speak with the appropriate personnel so you can have prior knowledge of what types of institutions and programs you can then partake in.
A Great Option: The University of the Pacific – Benerd College
The University of the Pacific’s Benerd College accredited with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges offers a variety of quality professional development courses through Teacher Friendly. These are self-paced, distance learning courses intended for educators and can be completed on your preferred schedule and at the convenience of your home. Per the university’s transcript legend, the professional development courses (numbered 9000-9999) are post-baccalaureate professional development semester units of non-degree graduate level credit. CEUs are not granted for any coursework. These courses are transcripted but do not apply to a degree at the University of the Pacific. While these types of courses are often designed for credits earned to be used for salary advancement and state licensing requirements, the university does not assure that any school district or state licensing board will accept these credits for those purposes. Individuals seeking credits for those purposes are advised to check with the appropriate agencies and gain approval before registering.
Access to professional development assures educators they can continue learning throughout their careers and remain life-long learners. The unlimited selections are worth looking into and exploring!
Learn more about how you can earn graduate-level credit with University of the Pacific and Teacher Friendly here.