Before entering Canisius’ adolescence education program, and indeed, before starting any teacher certification program in New York State, new students need to be aware of a number of additional fees and expenses beyond tuition, books, and university fees that will be incurred during the process. In fact, for students starting this upcoming semester (Summer 2013) and into the future, there will be some additional expenses that have not been issues previously.
The earliest additional expense that most students will incur is the creation of a “TaskStream” account. This website allows for the creation of a digital portfolio of each student’s work. Each class for the certification program includes what is called a common assignment, one that is part of the class no matter which professor is teaching that particular semester. The TaskStream service costs $25 for a semester or $42 for one year. Beyond that, the price reduces if a student needs to purchase a longer time period. This is required since it is the process through which Canisius students create their professional portfolio. Professors will also grade the common assignments on TaskStream.
The next additional expense is the cost of getting fingerprinted. As for most states, New York requires teachers to be fingerprinted and background checked before being certified. As with most states, the bureaucracy takes some time to process these and it does not always go smoothly. It is recommended, therefore, that incoming students deal with fingerprinting sooner than later. In order to get the necessary paperwork to be officially fingerprinted, students create a TEACH account with the New York Department of Education. They then put in for the fingerprinting cards which will be sent to their residence. These cards, and the processing that goes with them, cost $91. Luckily, Canisius offers free fingerprinting at the Public Safety Office several times throughout the semester. These dates are well advertised around the department. Once a student gets their fingerprints taken at Public Safety (or another certified location, that may cost additional money), they send them back to Albany where it make take two months, or longer, to process. If there is something wrong with the fingerprints, the Department of Education will send out new cards and the student will need to repeat the process.
The final required expenses are the test fees to take the required pre-certification exams. Starting with newly enrolled students, who plan on graduating in May 2014 or later, teacher candidates will be required to take four tests: the edTPA, the Educating All Students (EAS) test, the Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST), and the revised Content Specialty Test (CST). EAS, ALST, and CST cost about $79 each to take in the paper form, and about $149 to take at an online testing center. The exact cost of the edTPA has not yet been released, but is expected to be around $300. In order to register for these exams without paying a late fee, students need to sign up and pay about one month before the date of the actual exam. EdTPA, EAS, and ALST are general education exams that are meant to test a candidate’s ability to handle a classroom and pedagogy skills. The CST is subject specific and meant to ensure that teachers who receive certification have an acceptable level of competence in their field.
Combining the expenses associated with tests, fingerprinting, and TaskStream, teacher candidates at Canisius can expect to have at least $650 in additional fees that will have to be paid in order to receive certification. These fees, for the most part, are mandates by New York State, and therefore the college has no say over them. It is, however, very important for incoming students to be aware of the financial obligations they are undertaking in order to complete this program. I do not feel like this expense is in any way too much or not worth the money, but it is important to plan for before enrolling in the program.