UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH POLICY 02-02-16
CATEGORY: ACADEMIC AFFAIRS
SECTION: Faculty Appointment and Tenure
SUBJECT: Certification of English Language Fluency for Teaching
EFFECTIVE DATE: March 29, 1991
This policy establishes the responsibility of the University of Pittsburgh to determine that
all individuals who teach possess adequate English language fluency for effective
communication with students. This policy applies to all full-time, part-time, and visiting
faculty, including teaching assistants and teaching fellows (TA/TFs), instructional staff, and
other academic employees who teach at either the undergraduate or graduate level.
In compliance with the English Fluency in Higher Education Act, the University is responsible
for certifying to the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that
certain specified individuals who teach and who were hired subsequent to September 7,
1990 are fluent in the English language.
Each academic center or department is responsible for evaluating their instructional faculty
and staff for English language fluency and certifying that those individuals will be permitted
to teach only after demonstrating sufficient fluency in English to be understood in the
Full-time, part-time and visiting faculty, instructional staff, and other academic employees
who are non-native speakers of English must be evaluated by two personal interviews, one
conducted by the academic dean or the department chairman and the other by a senior
member of the faculty. Each academic center or department may determine individual
guidelines for conducting such interviews or whether further assessment by professional
presentations is necessary in making the determination.
Teaching assistants and teaching fellows who are non-native speakers of English must be
evaluated through a test designed to assess spoken English, approved by the Office of the
Provost and administered by the English Language Institute (ELI). The Office of the
Provost in consultation with ELI will establish minimum scores acceptable to permit a TA/TF
to teach. Individual academic centers or departments may require higher scores than the
established University minimums. All TA/TFs realizing unsatisfactory scores will be provided
with remediation in the form of tutoring or a class. An unsatisfactory score at the time of
reappointment is sufficient cause for nonrenewal.
Certification that a faculty member, TA/TF, instructional staff, or other academic employee
is sufficiently fluent in English to teach, or that teaching will be limited to courses in which
the primary language of instruction is not English, must be made at the time of hire, before
the individual teaches a class, by either the academic dean, department chairman, or
designee. If the English language fluency of an individual has been assessed as
insufficient or if assessment has not occurred, the academic dean, department chairman,
or designee must certify that the individual will not teach. See Procedure 02-02-16,
Certification of English Language Fluency for Teaching.
Annually, by September 1 of each year, the University of Pittsburgh will file a statement
of certification with the Department of Education indicating that all individuals who teach
and who were hired since the effective date of the English Fluency in Higher Education
Act, or hired subsequent to the last annual certification, are fluent in the English language.
Exempt from certification to the Commonwealth are individuals who teach graduate
courses; courses in which the primary language of instruction is not English; student
participatory and activity courses such as clinics, studios, seminars, and laboratories;
special arrangement courses such as individualized instruction and independent study
courses; and continuing education courses.
Procedure 02-02-16, Certification of English Language Fluency for Teaching