The New York State Teacher Certification Examinations are administered to prospective educators. In order to obtain a teaching certificate in the state of New York, candidates must pass the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test (LAST), an Assessment of Teaching Skills-Written (AST-W), and a Content Specialty Test (CST) in their area of expertise. Teachers seeking a bilingual education extension to their teaching certificate must also pass the Bilingual Education Assessment. Prospective teaching assistants must pass a separate exam known as the Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills. Finally, there are three School Leadership Assessments: School Building Leader, School District Leader, and School District Business Leader. Candidates for leadership positions in the state of New York must pass one of these three exams.
There is no fixed schedule for the NYSTCE test program. Each of the examinations is administered several times a year, but most education students elect to take the LAST before taking the AST-W. It is typical for prospective teachers to pass these two exams before moving on to a CST in their field of interest. The LAST covers general academic subjects while the AST-W focuses on pedagogical issues and skills.
The NYSTCE exams are criterion-referenced assessments, which means that scores are measured according to a preexisting standard rather than compared to the scores of other students. It usually takes about a month for the test administrator to score an exam and each score is placed on a scale from 100 to 300. A student must achieve a score of at least 220 to pass an exam, but candidates are allowed to continue retaking an exam until they receive a passing grade. A candidate, however, will not be allowed to retake an exam once a passing grade has been acquired.
Regular and late registration for the NYSTCE test can be accomplished online or by mail. During the emergency registration period, which is between one and three weeks before the exam, candidates can register online or by phone.