What is the Teacher Qualifications Service?Top of page

The Teacher Qualifications Service (TQS) is the agency in Alberta responsible for evaluating a teacher's years of education for salary purposes. All public, separate and francophone school boards in the province as well as some private boards accept evaluations issued by the TQS for the purpose of helping to determine a teacher's placement on the salary grid. School boards use a teacher's TQS evaluation (which is based on years of acceptable education), along with an assessment of the teacher's years of teaching experience (as governed by the relevant collective agreement), to ascertain a teacher's ultimate placement on the salary grid.

Isn’t TQS part of the Alberta Teachers’ Association?Top of page

The mandate of the Teacher Qualifications Service (TQS) is to provide teachers in Alberta with an evaluation of their educational qualifications for salary purposes according to the principles established by the Teacher Salary Qualifications Board (TSQB). TSQB was established under the Memorandum of Agreement between the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Alberta School Trustees’ Association (now the Alberta School Boards Association) and the Department of Education. The ATA operates the TQS as an arm’s-length service. The TQS is not governed by the ATA or subject to its policies. TQS is governed by and accountable to the TSQB. The operation of TQS is largely funded by the application fees collected, and the ATA is responsible for housing the service.

Who uses the Teacher Qualifications Service?Top of page

  • Beginning teachers and teachers new to Alberta.
  • Teachers who have upgraded their university/college education.
  • Teachers who want advice on what additional courses or programs they might take to improve their placement on the salary grid.
  • Teachers who are not clear about how their educational qualifications were assessed or who disagree with an assessment they have received.

How is the Teacher Qualifications Service administered?Top of page

The Teacher Qualifications Services (TQS) operates under a Memorandum of Agreement dated March 23, 1967, between the Alberta Teachers' Association, the Alberta School Trustees' Association (now the Alberta School Boards Association) and the Department of Education.

The memorandum establishes a body known as the Teacher Salary Qualifications Board (TSQB) and charges it with the following duties: (1) to develop and authorize the publication of the policies and principles to be used by the TQS in evaluating years of teacher education for salary purposes, (2) to advise the TQS secretary with respect to any principles adopted, (3) to serve as the board of final review and appeal in any dispute concerning a statement of qualifications issued by the TQS and (4) to adopt bylaws for its own operation. TSQB consists of 10 members: two representatives from Alberta Education, two representatives from the Alberta School Boards Association, three representatives from the Alberta Teachers' Association (one of whom serves as chair) and one representative from each of the Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Alberta Teachers' Association agrees to operate the TQS under the governing principles adopted by the TSQB, to cooperate with the registrar of Alberta Education on evaluation matters, to publicize the principles and to receive representations in writing, by telephone or in person, regarding evaluations.

For its part, the Alberta School Boards Association agrees to publicize the principles, to advise its member boards of the agreement and to request boards to inform immigrant teachers to apply to TQS for evaluations.

Alberta Education agrees to restrict its evaluations service to that required for the assessment of qualifications for teacher certification and to provide such information to the TQS, to advise immigrant teachers to apply to the TQS for evaluation, to accept evaluations issued by TQS and to facilitate the exchange of information between Alberta Education's Teacher Development and Certification Branch and the TQS.

The memorandum of agreement may be amended by unanimous consent of the parties to it and may be terminated by any of the parties on one year's notice.

In operating the TQS, the Association maintains a body known as the Teacher Qualifications Committee (TQC). The TQC (1) provides advice to TQS on the interpretation and application of the principles used to evaluate teacher qualifications for salary purposes, (2) acts as the initial body of appeal for applicants dissatisfied with a statement of qualifications issued by the TQS, (3) conducts research, (4) reports to the TSQB and (5) reports to the Association's Provincial Executive Council.

The TQC consists of seven members: one representative from the Department of Education; one representative from each of the Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge; and three Association members, one of whom serves as chair. The qualifications secretary of the TQS is a non-voting member of the TQC.

What are the principles that TQS uses to evaluate years of teacher education for salary purposes?Top of page

The Teacher Salary Qualifications Board (TSQB) develops and reviews annually the principles that are used to evaluate years of teacher education for salary purposes. The TSQB has final decision on the interpretation and application of these principles.

The principles in effect since July 3, 2010, are outlined below :

The principles are available in PDF format in English  and in French  .

A. Definitions

(a) “academic year” means a year of study as defined by the institution.
(b) “applied degree” means a degree focusing on postsecondary study in career, vocational or technical fields offered by a college and/or technical institute.
(c) “combined or conjoint degrees” means degrees completed at the same time and in combination with each other.
(d) “course” means a minimum of three semester credit hours or four and one-half quarter credit hours successfully completed through a recognized institution.
(e) “diploma program” means a program offered by undergraduate faculties of education of Alberta universities.
(f) “distance learning” means learning acquired by other than on-campus instruction and includes independent and correspondence study.
(g) “graduate program” means a program offered by the faculty of graduate studies or designated faculties of the recognized institution.
(h) “minister of education” means the Alberta minister of education.
(i) “non-recognized institution” means an institution not meeting the requirements of definition (o).
(j) “online learning” means learning acquired using the Internet or the World Wide Web as the method of instructional delivery.
(k) “postsecondary program” means a program beyond secondary schooling.
(l) “prevailing evaluation” means the evaluation contained in the most recently issued Teacher Qualifications Service statement of qualifications.
(m) “prior-learning assessment” means a process that involves the identification, documentation, assessment and recognition of non-traditional learning.
(n) “program” means a sequence of learning approved by the institution.
(o) “recognized institution” means an institution meeting the requirements of Principle 2.01.
(p) “self-directed program” means a program in which the offering institution does not predefine the structure or the evaluation and graduation criteria.
(q) “statement of qualifications” means a statement issued by the Teacher Qualifications Service of The Alberta Teachers’ Association.

B. Principles

1.0 Qualifications Evaluation

1.01 The evaluation of educational qualifications is based on comparability to Alberta programs.
1.02 Educational qualifications from institutions outside Alberta will be assessed neither less nor more favorably than Alberta qualifications.
1.03 A statement of qualifications will be issued to an individual who possesses Canadian citizenship, permanent resident status or lawful authorization to work in Canada and who holds an Alberta teaching authority for the current school year.
1.04 A statement of qualifications will be issued to an individual who possesses Canadian citizenship, permanent resident status or lawful authorization to work in Canada and who has been recommended upon completion of their current studies for Alberta certification by the dean of the faculty of education of an Alberta university under contract with the minister of education to prepare teachers for Alberta certification.
1.05 Students admitted to Alberta faculties of education with transfer credit in programs leading to eligibility for certification may apply for and be issued a statement of qualifications.
1.06 An educational qualification will be assessed according to the status accorded to it at the time and by the institution at which the program was taken.

2.0 Recognized Institutions

2.01 A recognized institution is considered to be an institution, at the time of student enrolment, which is:
a) a university or college in Canada that holds ordinary membership in the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada prior to October 1994 or after October 1994, institutional membership in the association, or
b) a university or college in the United States whose programs are generally accepted by member institutions of the following accrediting associations:
—The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
—The New England Association of Schools and Colleges
—The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
—The Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
—The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
—The Western Association of Schools and Colleges, or
c) recognized by the Ministry of Education in the home country and is listed in the Association of Commonwealth Universities publications, or
d) recognized by the Ministry of Education in the home country and is listed in the International Association of Universities publications, or
e) a university or college holding degree-granting status and deemed acceptable to the Teacher Salary Qualifications Board.

3.0 Base-Level for Counting

3.01 An entry program equivalent to that required of Alberta universities will be considered the base for counting years of teacher education.

4.0 Advanced Secondary Programs

4.01 Advanced Placement Programs and the International Baccalaureate may be considered for recognition beyond the base-level for counting requirements (see Base-Level for Counting) if:
a) the program has been given credit on a degree by a recognized institution, and
b) the level of the courses within the program is considered equivalent to first year or higher level courses of recognized Alberta universities, and
c) the program is not used to fulfill admission requirements to a postsecondary institution.

5.0 Postsecondary Programs

5.01 A postsecondary program will be considered for salary recognition if:
a) the program is successfully completed through a recognized institution (see Recognized Institutions), and
b) the program is completed beyond the base-level for counting (see Base-Level for Counting), and
c) the professional teacher preparation component of the program has been recognized by the minister of education for certification purposes, and
d) the program is considered to be university degree credit by a recognized institution, and
e) the degree program has a minimum of one year, generally the final year, completed through the degree-granting institution, and
f) the program complies with the principles for recognition of self-directed programs (see Self-Directed Programs), and
g) the program complies with the principles for recognition of online learning (see Online Learning), and
h) the program complies with the principles for recognition of distance learning (see Distance Learning), and
i) the program complies with the principles for recognition of prior-learning assessment credits (see Prior-Learning Assessment Credits), and
j) the program complies with the principles for recognition of applied degree programs (see Applied Degree Programs), and
k) the program complies with the principles for relevancy to teacher education (see Relevancy to Teacher Education), and
l) the program content does not overlap or duplicate its own or another program.
5.02 All postsecondary programs will be assessed based on the academic year requirements of the program.

6.0 Transfer and College Programs

6.01 Transfer and college programs of recognized institutions will be considered for salary recognition in accordance with the principles on postsecondary programs.
6.02 Transfer and college programs from non-recognized institutions will be considered for salary recognition in accordance with the principles on postsecondary programs if:
a) the transfer or college program originates from an institution within Alberta and the assigned credits are deemed to be university degree credit study and generally accepted by Alberta recognized institutions, or
b) the transfer or college program originates from an institution outside Alberta and within Canada and the assigned credits are deemed to be university degree credit study and generally accepted by same province recognized institutions, or
c) the transfer or college program originates from an institution within the United States and the assigned credits are deemed to be university degree credit study and generally accepted by same state recognized institutions, or
d) the transfer or college program originates from an institution outside North America and the assigned credits are deemed to be university degree credit study and generally accepted by same country recognized institutions, and
e) the recognition given to the transfer or college program does not violate Principles l.01 and 1.02.

6.03 Where the transfer or college program of the non-recognized institution is not offered by a recognized institution as outlined in 6.02(a) through 6.02(d), the program will be assessed based on its comparability to an Alberta university degree credit program of a recognized institution.
6.04 Where there is an articulation agreement between a recognized and a non-recognized institution, the study covered under the articulation agreement will be considered in accordance with the principles on postsecondary programs:
a) on the same basis as if the study was completed at the recognized institution,
b) on its comparability to an Alberta university program, and
c) on the basis the recognition given does not violate Principles 1.01 and 1.02.
6.05 Transfer or college programs from non-recognized institutions will be assessed on an independent basis if:
a) transfer credit has been given toward a degree program of a recognized institution, and
b) no actual course study has been completed through the recognized institution, and
c) the recognition given to the transfer or college program does not violate Principles 1.01 and 1.02.

7.0 Self-Directed Programs

7.01 Self-directed programs of recognized institutions will be considered for salary recognition if:
a) the program is comparable to an intramural degree program of an Alberta recognized institution, and
b) the professional teacher preparation component is acceptable to the minister of education, and
c) the program has a common structure and common evaluation and graduation criteria for all students, and
d) the program complies with the principles pertaining to base-level for counting, advanced secondary and postsecondary programs, transfer and college programs, online learning, distance learning, prior-learning assessment credits, applied degree programs and relevancy to teacher education, and
e) the recognition given to the self-directed program does not violate Principles 1.01 and 1.02.
7.02 The Teacher Salary Qualifications Board has the right to deny recognition to any portion or all of the self-directed program considered unacceptable.

8.0 Online Learning

8.01 Online learning programs of recognized institutions will be considered for salary recognition if:
a) the program is comparable to an intramural degree program of an Alberta recognized institution, and
b) the professional teacher preparation component is acceptable to the minister of education, and
c) the program has a common structure and common evaluation and graduation criteria for all students, and
d) the program complies with the principles pertaining to base-level for counting, advanced secondary and postsecondary programs, transfer and college programs, self-directed programs, distance learning, prior-learning assessment credits, applied degree programs and relevancy to teacher education, and
e) the recognition given to the online learning program does not violate Principles 1.01 and 1.02.
8.02 The Teacher Salary Qualifications Board has the right to deny recognition to any portion or all of the online learning program considered unacceptable.

9.0 Distance Learning

9.01 Distance learning programs of recognized institutions will be considered for salary recognition if:
a) the program is comparable to an intramural degree program of an Alberta recognized institution, and
b) the professional teacher preparation component is acceptable to the minister of education, and
c) the program structure and the evaluation and graduation criteria are identical to that required of an intramural student, and
d) the program complies with the principles pertaining to base-level for counting, advanced secondary and postsecondary programs, transfer and college programs, self-directed programs, online learning, prior-learning assessment credits, applied degree programs and relevancy to teacher education, and
e) the recognition given to the distance learning program does not violate Principles 1.01 and 1.02.
9.02 The Teacher Salary Qualifications Board has the right to deny recognition to any portion or all of the distance learning program considered unacceptable.

10.0 Prior-learning Assessment Credits

10.01 Prior-learning assessment credits will be considered for salary recognition if:
a) the recognition was not previously given for salary purposes, and
b) the assigned credit given was based on factors other than sole recognition of life-experiences, and
c) the assigned credit was given on a degree program of a recognized institution, and
d) the professional teacher education component of the program was acceptable to the minister of education, and
e) the credits comply with the principles pertaining to base-level for counting, advanced secondary and postsecondary programs, transfer and college programs, self-directed programs, online learning, distance learning, applied degree programs and relevancy to teacher education, and
f) the recognition given to the prior-learning assessment credits does not violate Principles 1.01 and 1.02.
10.02 The Teacher Salary Qualifications Board has the right to deny recognition to any portion or all of the prior-learning assessment credits considered unacceptable.

11.0 Applied Degree Programs

11.01 An applied degree program of a non-recognized institution will be considered for salary recognition if:
a) the program is comparable to an intramural degree program of an Alberta recognized institution, and
b) the program credits are given for other than solely work-related experiences, and
c) the program complies with the principles pertaining to base-level for counting, advanced secondary and postsecondary programs, transfer and college programs, self-directed programs, online learning, distance learning, prior-learning assessment credits and relevancy to teacher education, and
d) the recognition given to the applied degree program does not violate Principles 1.01 and 1.02.
11.02 The Teacher Salary Qualifications Board has the right to deny recognition of applied degree programs that it considers unacceptable.

12.0 Relevancy to Teacher Education

12.01 Subject to all other principles contained within this document, programs in liberal arts and science and in education will be considered acceptable.
12.02 Subject to all other principles contained within this document, programs other than those in liberal arts, science or education considered equivalent to liberal arts, science or education will be considered acceptable.
12.03 Programs not meeting the requirements of Principles 12.01 and 12.02 may be considered on a limited basis.
12.04 The Teacher Salary Qualifications Board has the right to determine relevancy of any and all programs as teacher education for purposes of salary recognition.

13.0 Undergraduate Programs

13.01 Recognition of any undergraduate program is subject to:
a) the principles pertaining to base-level for counting, advanced secondary and postsecondary programs, transfer and college programs, self-directed programs, online learning, distance learning, prior-learning assessment credits, applied degree programs and relevancy to teacher education, and
b) the academic year requirements of the degree, and
c) the value assigned for salary recognition being no greater than the value assigned by the offering institution.
13.02 Incomplete undergraduate programs where the academic year requirements are not identified or where the courses are not part of a program will have each course assessed as .1 of a year (see course definition).
13.03 Combined or conjoint degrees of a recognized institution will be assessed no greater than the academic year value assigned to the degree programs.

14.0 Faculty of Education Diploma Program

14.01 A completed diploma program of a faculty of education of a recognized institution will be assessed at one year unless a course-by-course assessment permits an assessment in excess of one year.
14.02 Each undergraduate level course will be assessed as .1 of a year (see course definition).
14.03 Each graduate level course will be assessed as .125 of a year (see course definition).

15.0 Graduate Programs

15.01 Recognition of any graduate program is subject to the principles pertaining to postsecondary programs, transfer and college programs, self-directed programs, online learning, distance learning, prior-learning assessment credits and relevancy to teacher education.
15.02 A graduate level course or its equivalent from a recognized institution will be assessed as .125 of a year (see course definition).
15.03 A completed graduate degree not composed of courses or its equivalent will be assessed according to its academic year value.
15.04 A completed graduate degree not composed of courses or its equivalent where the academic year value is unknown will be assessed based on a statement of equivalency from an Alberta recognized institution.

16.0 Surplus Credits to a Program

16.01 Acceptable credits documented as being surplus to a program of a recognized institution will be considered for credit based on the following ratio value:
a) each course at the undergraduate level will be assessed as .1 of a year (see course definition).
b) each course at the graduate level will be assessed as .125 of a year (see course definition).
16.02 Acceptable credits documented as being surplus to a program of a nonrecognized institution yet deemed equivalent to university degree-credit study of a recognized institution will be considered for credit and accorded equivalent value as undergraduate or graduate level credits of a recognized institution.

17.0 Limitations

17.01 Where no degree has been conferred by a recognized institution, the assessment issued will not exceed four years.
17.02 Where no graduate degree has been conferred by a recognized institution, the assessment issued will not exceed six years, except if doctoral level studies of a recognized institution has been completed.
17.03 Where a master’s degree has been conferred by a recognized institution, the assessment issued will not exceed seven years, except if doctoral level studies of a recognized institution has been completed.
17.04 The maximum assessment issued will be eight years.

18.0 Grandfathering

18.01 When principles and/or procedures are revised, recognition previously granted to a program that forms the basis of the prevailing evaluation will not be reduced unless the recognition was granted in error.
18.02 When principles and/or procedures are revised that detrimentally affect the recognition to be accorded to a program of study previously approved and documented in writing by the Teacher Qualifications Service, the projected recognition of the approved study will be honored for a period not exceeding three years from the date of approval (errors and omissions excepted).

19.0 Individual Responsibility

19.01 It is the responsibility of the applicant to ascertain if future changes of principles and their application may affect the evaluation of qualifications for salary recognition.
19.02 It is the responsibility of the applicant to contact the Teacher Qualifications Service of The Alberta Teachers’ Association within 90 days of the date on the statement of qualifications if it is believed the statement contains any errors or omissions. Failure to do so will result in the statement of qualifications being regarded as final and correct.

How do I contact the Teacher Qualifications Service?Top of page

Hours of Operation: From September to June, the Teacher Qualifications Service (TQS) is open Monday to Friday from 0800 to 1700. During July and August, TQS is open from 0800 to 1630. The TQS is closed on statutory holidays.

Location: The TQS office is located on the 3rd Floor of Barnett House, 11010 142 Street NW, Edmonton.

Mailing Address: All correspondence to the TQS should be addressed as follows: Teacher Qualifications Service, Alberta Teachers' Association, 11010 142 Street NW, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5N 2R1.
Email: tqs@teachers.ab.ca.
Phone: 780-447-9400 (from Edmonton or area) or 1-800-232-7208 (from elsewhere in Alberta)
Fax: 780-455-6481

IMPORTANT: Because of concerns about confidentiality, TQS staff will not respond by e-mail or fax to requests for advice about individual situations. Such requests should be made in writing, by phone or in person.