Becoming a certified teacher in Texas can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path, but the number of tests required to obtain certification can be overwhelming for those just starting out on this journey.
One of the most frequent questions asked is, “Do I need to take the TxPACT?” It depends. Let’s dive into what the TxPACT is and whether you need to add it to your list of exams to take on your Texas teacher certification journey.
The TxPACT, or Texas Pre-Admission Content Test, is an exam used for admission to an alternative certification or post-baccalaureate educator preparation program (EPP). Applicants must complete a passing score on the examination that corresponds with the certificate area they wish to earn.
It’s important to note that TxPACT exams ARE NOT the same as the TExES content exams, which interns must take in their chosen certification areas. While TxPACT exams are now used for admission to an educator preparation program, TExES content exams are designed to assess an individual’s knowledge and skills in specific content areas related to the grade level and subject they wish to teach.
There are two significant differences between the two exams.
ALL aspiring Texas teachers must take at least one content exam, whereas only certain individuals must take the TxPACT.
The PACT exams contain questions that assess subject-matter knowledge only. TExES content tests include questions that assess both subject-matter knowledge and pedagogical-content knowledge.
Questions surrounding the TxPACT remain in part because testing requirements have changed in recent years with the addition of new exams and changes in the timing of when interns must take their exams.
Not everyone must take the TxPACT exam. You only need to take the TxPACT if you do not meet the eligibility requirements for an alternative teacher certification program.
A TxPACT is required for admission IF:
The applicant has a grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or below
The applicant has not completed at least 12 semester credit hours in the subject area of the certificate the applicant is seeking (15 hours if seeking certification in math or science above 7th grade)
To take the TxPACT, you must hold a bachelor’s degree or be within the last semester of receiving a bachelor’s degree. You are NOT required to take the TxPACT if your grade point average in college was above 2.5 and you have completed the semester credit hours of coursework requirement.
Important note: Some educator preparation programs may have individual policies that require applicants to pass a PACT as their requirement for admission, but those policies are not state-wide. It’s important to check with the EPP you are considering so you know whether you are required to pass the PACT even if you meet the requirements above.
You must have a Texas Education Agency (TEA) ID number, which is used throughout the certification and exam registration process. You must also have a TEA ID to set up your testing account.
To register for the first time, go to the TEA’s Educator Certification Online System (ECOS) page and create a TEA Login (TEAL) account. When you create your account, you will complete an educator profile and get your TEA ID number.
Make sure you use your first and last name that matches your Texas driver’s license or state identification. Your profile will also contain additional information like your mailing address, email address and phone number.
Once you have a TEA ID number, you can go into the online registration system and choose the testing vendor. Currently, Pearson administers the TxPACT. If you need to take a PACT exam in another language, including Arabic, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish or Vietnamese, you must submit a special request through the TEA using the Help Desk.
Important note: BEFORE you sign up to take the TxPACT, make sure you coordinate with your Educator Preparation Program you are considering. The certification program should confirm with you that you must take this exam, what score you must achieve to enroll and any other requirements you must meet. A high-quality program can also connect you with the right resources to help you prepare for this important test.
Communication is key to ensuring you don’t unnecessarily delay completing your teaching certification requirements.
Whether you must take the TxPACT or not to teach in Texas, there is a list of other exams you must take in order to earn your certification.
As we mentioned above, in order to earn your intern certificate, you must take at least one content exam in the area you wish to teach. If you want to be credentialed in multiple subjects, taking different content exams is a major step toward achieving this.
The TExES content exams are available in more than 60 specialties, divided by grade levels or special certification areas such as physical science, special education and theatre.
You may choose which content exams you take based on your own personal interests. Or, you may choose to put more strategy behind your selections, such as pairing exams that often translate well in the classroom. For example, many physical education teachers also instruct health classes. In this case, you would take the Physical Education (Grades EC-12) and the Health (Grades EC-12) exams.
You could also pair Journalism (Grades 7-12) with English Language Arts and Reading (Grades 7-12). Many interns choose to take the Core Subjects exam and pair it with a specialty like a foreign language exam, Speech (Grades 7-12) or Reading Specialist (Grades EC-12).
At ECAP, we ask our interns to immediately take a practice content test to establish a baseline of where their knowledge base is at. This way, each intern will have a good understanding of their current knowledge level in each subject area and know which areas they need further training in.
Then, we strongly encourage each intern to take 40 hours of online training before taking the actual content exam. While the content exam currently has a passing grade score of 240, we instruct our interns to aim for a score of 270. By asking our interns to aim for a higher score, it gives them a better chance of passing on their first attempt. Once you score a 270, ECAP will give you permission to take your content exams.
You can check out all of the different certification tests you can take in our article, List Of Texas Teacher Certification Tests: What You Must Take To Teach.
The Texas Examinations of Educator Standards Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities is one of the final exams you take during the certification process.
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. All interns must pass this exam to obtain your standard certification.
If one of the areas you wish to be certified in falls under this list below, you must take the Science of Teaching Reading exam.
Early Childhood: EC - Grade 3
Core Subjects with Science of Teaching Reading: Early Childhood - Grade 6 or Grades 4-8
English Language Arts and Reading with Science of Teaching Reading - Grades 4-8
English Language Arts and Reading/Social Studies with Science of Teaching Reading - Grades 4-8
This test focuses on standards that address the practice of teaching early reading, and is a relatively new requirement the state has imposed.
Once again, it’s critical to work with a quality teacher certification program to ensure you are taking the right tests and the right time. Every aspiring teacher’s path looks different, and it’s important that you work with an educator preparation program from the beginning to determine which exams you need to take when, including the TxPACT.
Whether your dream is to become an elementary school teacher, a middle school teacher or a high school teacher, working with a high-quality alternative teacher certification program to complete each of the above testing steps will ensure your journey is completed in the most efficient and effective way possible.
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.