If you’re considering switching to a career in education, there is no better time than now.
That’s because Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has temporarily suspended certain provisions of the state’s educator certification laws that allow individuals enrolled in an educator preparation program (EPP) to begin their student teacher internships before taking their content tests.
Because state testing centers remain closed or are allowing fewer test takers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state is permitting EPP enrollees to apply and fulfill their one-year intern certificate without having to first pass the required content tests.
As alternative teacher certification programs and their interns continue to try and navigate these newest requirements, many have wondered how these new changes impact online teacher training.
The good news is that for many, these changes have opened up the opportunity to get into the classroom even more quickly.
A Year Of Changes
Testing requirements have undergone many changes this year, making navigating a timeline toward certification challenging for many aspiring teachers.
Prior to Jan. 27, applicants took the appropriate content exam before officially enrolling in an alternative teacher certification program.
At the end of January, however, the state enacted new laws requiring applicants whose college transcripts did not meet the minimum GPA requirement or did not contain sufficient coursework to take a TxPACT exam. This test was then used for program admission. Those who did meet the standards above could be accepted without the TxPACT exam.
However, this change in timeline also meant program interns had to wait to take the content exams until after they had been accepted into a program and been given permission to take the test, which occurs after an intern completes the program’s coursework. Passage of the TExES content exams was required in order to earn an internship certificate (otherwise known as a student teaching certificate).
So what has changed? A lot, at least temporarily.
As part of a COVID-19 disaster declaration, the governor is allowing program interns to apply for an internship certificate before passing their content exams, but only until Oct. 1, 2020.
To take advantage of this, between now and Oct. 1, here is what must happen:
You must apply to ECAP and meet all requirements. This includes passing the TxPACT exams if you do not meet program requirements (a GPA of above 2.5 and completion of the required semester credit hours for your certification subject).
Once accepted, you must establish an account with the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The TEA site is where you will apply for your certificates and complete all required background checks. Important note: It is critical that you do not wait to do this since this process can take several weeks.
ECAP will provide you with a statement of eligibility, which allows you to apply for teaching jobs.
You must apply AND be offered a teaching position. This is an important caveat. You have to be both accepted and formally offered a teaching position before the Oct. 1 deadline in order to take advantage of this opportunity.
According to the TEA, the groups that this temporary suspension impacts include:
Teacher candidates who will begin an internship in Fall 2020
Teacher candidates who will complete clinical teaching in 2020-2021
Non-teacher candidates who will complete a practicum in 2020-2021
Teacher candidates who will complete field-based experiences in 2020-2021
How ECAP Can Help
For those considering enrolling in an alternative teacher certification program that provides in-person and/or online training, or for those who are already enrolled in one, you may be concerned how these recent changes impact your timeline and quality of training.
The good news is, programs like ECAP have adapted their curriculum to meet these requirements. Here are some of the ways the new testing requirements have impacted online teacher training in Texas.
Additional Help With Timelines
Knowing when and if you should take an exam is one of the first questions interns have. Between the TxPACT exam, content exams, the PPR (Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities) exam and any other requirements, it can be overwhelming to navigate your individual timeline.
It is important to note that even with the changes outlined above, you are still required to take your content exams before you complete your internship.
This is a substantial amount of information to digest for each individual teacher candidate, not to mention knowing which practice tests and courses will best help them prepare for these tests. ECAP works with each intern individually to assess how these new requirements impact your timeline as well as which content exams best fit your end goals.
When ECAP accepts interns in its program, they also receive a set of instructions that detail exactly how to set up an account with the TEA and complete all required background checks.
An Opportunity For Training … Even Without Enrollment
In addition to important teaching skills, the best alternative teacher certification programs always offer preparation for content exams as part of their curriculum … not as costly add-ons. This curriculum should include everything you need to know to pass the PPR, from styles of exam questions you should expect to how to develop the best study plan for you.
Our article, How To Pass Your PPR Exam, delves into some of the most common mistakes test takers make so that you can learn what to watch out for when it’s your turn.
At ECAP, we know the importance of preparing for this test, which is why we offer practice tests, videos and online and in-person courses to help our interns prepare.
A Partner In Changing Times
Navigating what you are supposed to do and when in order to obtain your teaching license can be an overwhelming experience. The timeline itself can be difficult to understand, especially considering it has undergone several changes this year alone.
Enlisting the help of a high-quality alternative teacher certification program that has your best interest in mind will help secure your future as a teacher. Our job is to put you in the classroom with the tools you need to be successful.
Although new testing requirements have changed the order by which interns and prospective interns complete their requirements, our online and in-person teacher training programs continue to keep future teachers on the right track toward fulfilling their dreams.
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.
Connect with ECAP
7166 Baker Blvd., Suite B · Richland Hills, Texas 76118 Phone 817-284-7731 | Fax 817-284-3396