If it’s your dream to be an educator and work with youths, your teaching certificate could be just a few steps away.
In fact, no matter where you are in your life, there is a path for you to get your teaching certificate in the state of Texas.
The state requires individuals to go through a series of requirements to be a teacher in Texas.
Here are 6 steps that will help you begin your journey.
1. Determine Who You Want To Teach
The Texas Education Agency requires you to have certification in order to teach certain subjects or kids who fall within a specific set of grades. This is important because each certification area has its own set of exams that you must pass in order to teach in the state.
Depending on which grades you wish to teach, you may have a few different certification options from which to choose. For example, if you want to apply for teaching jobs that involve working with kids in fourth grade, you could get a certification for Pre-K through 6th grade, or a certification for 4th through 8th grade.
Which one you choose will be based on whether you prefer to teach kids of elementary age or more of middle school age.
Also, keep in mind, you can continue your education and obtain more endorsement certifications throughout your career. Start with the certification that addresses the grade levels you wish to teach right away, along with subject areas, if applicable.
2. Choose Your Certification Path
The next step is to choose your path to certification. There are four paths you can take:
If you are just beginning your education path and are enrolling in a college or university, many institutes offer degrees in elementary or secondary education.
For those pursuing an undergraduate degree in education, teacher preparation programs typically are blended with bachelor’s degree programs.
Bachelor’s degree programs also include student teaching opportunities where you can work with a mentor teacher to create and implement lessons.
Alternative Teacher Certification
Not everyone who wants to pursue a career in education has a bachelor’s degree in education. Some have degrees in other majors and choose to change careers completely. Others opt to start a teaching career after serving in the military, staying at home to raise children or deciding to come out of retirement for a new challenge.
An accredited alternative teacher certification program provides you with a great way to earn a teaching certificate. Depending on the program, you can get your certification online, receiving an online teacher certification, or you can do in person training to receive your teacher certification. In fact, almost 50 percent of all new teachers to the Texas education system come from alternative education programs.
The Texas Education Agency allows individuals to qualify for an alternative teacher certification through the following ways:
A bachelor’s degree: Students with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning must meet the following criteria:
Minimum 2.5 GPA - You must have earned either a 2.5 GPA on an official transcript from an accredited institution, or in the last 60 semester hours of courses attempted.
At least in final semester - Students about to earn a bachelor’s degree and who are in their final semester of school still can apply for a teacher certification program. These students must provide:
A copy of your final semester schedule of classes
A letter from an academic advisor or registrar indicating you are in your final semester and eligible for graduation
An official transcript through the previous semester
Proof of a passed content test
If you are a student who graduated from a university located outside the United States or U.S. territories, you must provide:
Foreign transcripts that have been equivocated by a recognized transcript evaluation service
Proof of oral English language proficiency by passing the oral proficiency portion of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
An associate’s degree: Even if you don’t hold a 4-year degree, you can qualify for an alternative certification program with your associate’s degree. You must provide the following:
Proof of your degree from an accredited institution of higher learning
At least two years of full-time, wage-earning experience within the past 10 years in the field you plan to teach
A current license in the fields of Health Science Technology, Criminal Justice or Cosmetology
No degree: Even without a degree of any kind, you can still qualify for an alternative certification program. To do so, you must have five years of full-time, wage-earning experience within the past 10 year in the field you plan to teach. You also may be required to pass an appropriate certification test.
As mentioned above, you’ll need to pass the appropriate teacher content exams. It’s best to work with your program to ensure you take the correct certification exams and know how to prepare for them.
At ECAP, you must first complete 40 hours of training before taking a practice content exam. We tell our interns to aim for a score of 270 and concentrate on areas your practice exam results indicate you need further training in. Once you score a 270, ECAP will give you permission to take your content exams.
You must take and pass one content exam to earn your intern or probationary certificate, although you aren’t limited by one content area. You may take more than one content exam, which may make you more marketable to elementary, middle or high school principals who are hiring. These tests measure teaching readiness and skills, as well as the expertise in the area you wish to teach.
4. Complete Your Program Requirements and Take PPR
Once you finish your 300 hours of required training, you must take the PPR. The Texas Examinations of Educator Standards Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities “is designed to assess whether a test taker has the requisite knowledge and skills that an entry-level educator in this field in Texas public schools must possess,” according to the Texas Education Agency.
While your intern certificate allows you to complete your required internship, you MUST pass the PPR to earn your standard certification to teach. The test focuses on whether you know how to:
Design instruction that promotes student learning
Create a positive, productive classroom environment
Implement effective, responsive instruction and assessment
Fulfill professional roles and responsibilities
Preparation is key to successfully passing the PPR. The best training programs will prepare you for the PPR by offering test preparation as part of their curriculum and not as costly add-ons. Training should include areas such as:
Questions that appear on the PPR
Common mistakes made when taking the PPR, including the competencies where many interns struggle
An overview of best practices and techniques
A full-length practice exam with on-site grading
5. Apply For Your License
After you have met the requirements outlined above, next you’ll apply for a Texas teaching certificate. It’s a good idea to work with your preparation program to ensure all eligibility requirements have been met before applying.
To apply, you’ll need to set up a Texas Education Agency Login (TEAL) account. This will give you access to your profile that is located in the Educator Certification Online System (ECOS).
Important note: Make sure your first and last names match your Texas Driver’s License/State ID card exactly. To register for a test with a vendor, your name on your identification must match the name on your educator certification profile.
The last step you must accomplish before earning a teaching certificate is to complete the fingerprinting process. All educators are required to get fingerprinted as part of a national criminal background check. The TEA evaluates any criminal history on a case-by-case basis, taking into account several factors.
Certificate applicants must submit fingerprints electronically using an approved vendor by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Teaching is a rewarding career that allows you to have a direct impact on a student’s life. Yet many districts across the state report teacher shortages each year and are in need of educators who have a passion for working with students.
If you’re considering pursuing a teaching certificate, the state of Texas offers four paths that get you on your journey - whether you have a bachelor’s degree or not.
Combined with the steps outlined above, becoming a teacher is possible no matter where you are in your career and life.
Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank.
In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.
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