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7 Qualities Of A Top Teacher Preparation Program Online

Micah Fikes
Micah Fikes on March 15, 2021

Online teacher certification in Texas is a multistep process that begins with selecting the program that will provide the training you need to earn a certification.

However, not all preparation programs are created equal, which is why due diligence is required to ensure that you partner with a top teacher preparation program online. 

Below we’ll go over seven qualities to look for in a top program to ensure you have the best experience and receive the best training on your way to becoming a certified teacher:

  1. The preparation program is TEA approved 
  2. There are opportunities for in-person training
  3. The program embraces a full circle approach
  4. You get a personalized timeline
  5. Comprehensive test preparation is offered
  6. A program’s reputation holds up beyond its first impression
  7. Pairing with a program is a good fit for both of you



The Preparation Program Is TEA Approved


This may seem like an obvious quality to look for in a teacher preparation program, but the fact is there are a lot of less-than-honest online programs out there that will promise results but aren’t licensed to give them. Although they may take your money and provide you with a certificate, that piece of paper is useless if a school district can’t accept it.

Teacher Preparation Program OnlineThe Texas Education Agency (TEA) is a state agency that oversees primary and secondary public education in the state. The TEA approves all educator preparation programs, including alternative certification programs like ECAP.

To become licensed to teach in Texas, you must complete coursework through one of the programs listed on the state-approved educator preparation program list. Only a program on this list can recommend you for a Texas educator certificate. 

The U.S. Department of Education offers some additional warning signs for avoiding postsecondary scams. These tips can be applied to a teacher preparation program online as well. For example, look for these red flags when evaluating preparation programs: 

  • The time to earn a professional teaching certificate is significantly less than other online teaching programs in the state.
  • There is little to no interaction with instructors.
  • The program has a name similar to a TEA-approved program or a reputable university.
  • The program does not have a physical address and instead has a P.O. Box or no address listed at all. 

Our article, Top 5 Red Flags To Avoid With Online Teacher Licensure Programs, also offers additional qualities to watch out for when evaluating preparation programs.

There Are Opportunities For In-Person Training


An online program offers flexibility, making it highly desired among individuals who are employed, are a parent or have other time-consuming obligations. Online programs allow you to take courses around your schedule and often offer a larger selection of courses since these can be taught by instructors in a Teacher Preparation Program Onlinedifferent location.

However, the top teacher preparation programs also offer an in-person component. There are many features of in-person training that simply can’t be replicated in an online setting. These include:

  • The opportunity to develop personal and professional connections through face-to-face interaction
  • Better availability of instructors who can answer your questions promptly, rather than having to wait for a returned email
  • Networking moments with other interns and instructors
  • Personalized help from staff who treat you as a person rather than a faceless number
  • Opportunities to collaborate through teamwork and hands-on learning

Being able to enjoy the flexibility that an online program offers, combined with the advantages that in-person training provides, is a desirable quality in a top program.

The Program Embraces A Full Circle Approach


To earn certification in the state of Texas, an individual must complete 300 hours of training, all appropriate testing and student teaching experience. 

Teacher Preparation Program OnlineAll three are essential for success, which is why it’s important to look for a teacher preparation program that allows you to work on these components simultaneously in order to complete the program more quickly and efficiently. 

At ECAP, for example, we think of an intern’s journey as including three teaching rings: training, testing and teaching. As an individual moves closer to completing each ring’s requirements, the ring will close. However, these rings do not need to close one at a time, or consecutively. They instead can close simultaneously as one aspect of training will help another. 

This full circle design takes a comprehensive approach to learning, providing a greater understanding of how everything interns learn impacts all aspects of teaching.

You Get A Personalized Approach


It’s easy to feel like you are getting lost in a sea of interns who have the same goal as you. The fact is, you are unique, and your timeline for completion of the program should reflect that. 

A top teacher preparation program will work with you to develop a strategy for completing the training and testing required of you to become certified to teach in Texas. With several testing requirement changes over the past year in the state, it’s important to partner with a program that will make sure you stay on track to complete your requirements. 

Between the TxPACT exam, content exams, new Science of Teaching Reading (STR) exam and the PPR (Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities) exam, it can be difficult to navigate these requirements. And, this is just one component of your program. 

Make sure you choose a program that looks at the requirements you must meet and evaluates how they impact your specific timeframe. 



Comprehensive Test Preparation Is Offered


Teacher Preparation Program OnlineTest preparation is a key part to your training. While several teacher licensure programs offer test preparation for the PPR, the final exam you must pass to become certified, many offer it as a costly add-on. 

Training should include all the tools you need to pass this important exam. Tools should include items like practice tests, videos and online and in-person courses. 

Programs that make you pay extra for this critical training component don’t have your best interest in mind. They should want you to be successful … and provide you with the tools to make that happen.

A Program’s Reputation Holds Up Beyond First Impression


Anyone who has heard of the saying, “the devil is in the details,” knows how important it is to look beyond first impressions and that it often takes an attention to detail to determine whether something is right for you.

The same is true when navigating your choices for teacher preparation programs. With the right splash of colors and catchphrases, any program can make itself sound good. 

So how do you know whether a program is more style than substance? Here are a few clues that indicate a program’s reputation holds up beyond its first impression:

  • Dr-Sam-NixTraining advisers are promoted. Although in Texas, an educator preparation program must pair you with a training adviser who will work with you to ensure you are an effective and dynamic teacher for your students. However, a program that is proud of its training advisers actively promotes them and their credentials on the program’s website. Researching who you will be working with while in the program can also provide you with another area to consider when navigating your program choices.
  • Reviews are positive. Reviews are typically submitted after someone completes a program. Reading reviews is a good way to see whether the information you receive before enrolling matches up with other interns’ experiences. Keep in mind reviews also serve as an opportunity to address any issues you read about with the program itself. How the program responds can be a good indicator of character as well.
  • The program has a well-known reputation. If the only information you are able to find about a program is on its website, there may be an issue with the quality of the program. The top teacher preparation programs have built relationships with school districts and are known for putting students ahead of the curve.

Pairing With A Program Is A Good Fit For Both Of You


Finally, a top teacher preparation program will want to be a good fit for you and for you to be a good fit for the program. If these don’t align, you may run into more challenges when completing the program. 

While educator preparation programs in Texas all have the same requirements, programs can be very different. They all have different expectations, different methods for training and different tools that are available to help you succeed. 

Look for a program that stresses finding the right match for both of you. If it doesn’t appear that you’re the right fit for a program, yet the program continues to push you to apply, it may be best to keep looking. Find one that has your best interest in mind, and you’ll get the right foundation that puts you on your way to fulfilling your dream to become a teacher.

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Written by Micah Fikes

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.