If your goal is to achieve your teacher certification online, it’s critical to have a well-thought out plan in place before you begin.
While the state of Texas offers a clear list of requirements you must meet, the order of how you meet these requirements is important to ensuring you get to the front of the classroom as soon as possible.
You may already know which subject or specific grade level you want to teach. If you don’t, that’s OK. But it’s important to have a general idea since the requirements you must meet may vary based on this information.
For example, if you want to teach a math- or science-based subject, one of the requirements to enter an educator preparation program (EPP) is that you have completed 15 semester credits in the certification subject you wish to teach (versus 12 semester credit hours for another subject).
Once you get into an EPP, some of your training will also revolve around your chosen teaching specialty in an effort to prepare you for content tests.
Other areas will afford you more flexibility, such as if you choose to teach at the elementary level in which you would become certified teaching K-6.
Keep in mind you can continue your education and obtain more endorsement certifications throughout your teaching career. Start with the certification that addresses the grade levels you wish to teach right away, along with subject areas, if applicable.
If pursuing certification online best suits your schedule and present needs, you have a couple of options available to you. Before you choose one, however, make sure the programs you are considering are on the Texas Education Agency’s list of state-approved educator preparation programs. Only programs on this list may recommend a person for a Texas educator certificate.
There are only-online programs available in the state of Texas. These offer several benefits, including:
Little to no commute
Ability to take courses being held outside your community
More comfortable learning environment
Opportunity to improve technical skills
However, there are some drawbacks to an online-only format. While this type of format offers a great deal of flexibility, you can miss out on important opportunities to network and develop professional connections.
You may have to wait for an email from an instructor to answer any questions you may have as well, and you lose out on the option for hands-on learning, which can be invaluable once you get into the classroom.
If online learning still sounds appealing, but you want the benefits that some in-person instruction offers, it may be best to look for a program that offers the best of both worlds and offers both in-person and online coursework. While some of these programs were put on hold for 2020, it looks like they may pick back up with the vaccine coming in 2021.
3. Apply To A Program
Once you have selected your program, the next step is to apply. Make sure you are aware of any stipulations that go along with applying to a program. When applying to ECAP, for example, there are no application fees and applying does not commit you to any type of contract.
Although application processes may vary among alternative teacher certification programs, at ECAP, once you have applied, we will call you to make sure you’ve ordered transcripts or completed your Statement of Qualification (SOQ) for ECAP. We must have a complete application and confirm that you meet the basic requirements.
What are these basic requirements?
If you have a bachelor’s degree, to qualify for an alternative teacher certification program in Texas, your degree must be from an accredited institution of higher learning. You must also:
Have earned a minimum 2.5 GPA (on an official transcript or in the last 60 semester hours of courses attempted)
Completed 12 semester credit hours in the certification subject (15 hours in math or science in 7th grade or above)
If you do not meet these above requirements, you can still qualify for a program. However, you must first pass a TxPACT exam that is used for program admission.
If you do NOT have a bachelor’s degree, you can still qualify. If you have an associate’s degree from an accredited institution, you must also have:
Two years of full-time wage-earning experience within the past 10 years in the field to be taught
A current license to teach Health Science Technology, Criminal Justice or Cosmetology
If you do NOT have ANY degree, you must have five years of full-time wage-earning experience within the past 10 years in the field to be taught.
Our article, How To Get Your Online Elementary Teacher Certification, further outlines requirements for special circumstances, such as if you are currently completing your final semester toward a bachelor’s degree or if you graduated from a university outside the United States or U.S. Territories.
4. Complete Your Coursework And Take Exams
Once you’re enrolled in a program, the next step is to complete your coursework and take all appropriate exams.
In the state of Texas, you are required to complete:
A minimum of 300 hours of training to receive a standard teaching certificate
Of these 300 hours, 30 must be dedicated to observation of a certified teacher in a classroom environment
After completing the necessary coursework, you will need to take your TExES content exams. It is best to work with your program to ensure you are taking the right content exams for the grade level or specialty area you wish to teach. The best certification programs will help you prepare for them.
You will also need to pass the PPR, or Texas Examinations of Educator Standards Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities. This is one of the most important final exams you will take to qualify you to teach in the state of Texas.
The PPR, “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 TEA. To obtain your standard certification, you must pass the PPR. Working with a program that helps you prepare is key.
5. Apply For Certification
You’ve completed all the hard work. Yet now is not the time to let down your focus. Taking the necessary final steps to become certified in Texas involves completing a series of paperwork, and it’s important to do everything “by the book.”
First, you must apply for your state certification. To apply, set up a Texas Education Agency Login (TEAL) account, which will give you access to your profile located in the Educator Certification Online System (ECOS). Make sure your first and last names match your Texas driver’s license or state ID card.
Secondly, you will need to complete a fingerprinting process as part of a national criminal background check. You must submit your fingerprints electronically using an approved vendor by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
On Your Way
Complete the five steps above and you’re on your way to fulfilling your dream of working with students and becoming a prepared and effective teacher in the state of Texas.
One final important note:The best programs will work with you every step of the way to ensure that you not only meet all the state requirements in order, but do so in an efficient and supportive manner so that you can complete your journey toward becoming a teacher and feel confident that you are prepared for this next stage of your 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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7166 Baker Blvd., Suite B · Richland Hills, Texas 76118 Phone 817-284-7731 | Fax 817-284-3396