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Ominous Threat Looms: A Texas Teacher Preparation Institution Faces Certification Crisis

Micah Fikes
Micah Fikes on February 22, 2024

A teacher preparation program is in danger of losing its ability to certify some aspiring educators in Texas. If you’re considering transitioning into the world of teaching, this information is incredibly important to know as you pursue your license. 


In a report in The Dallas Morning News, the newspaper disclosed some troubling statistics that reflect why Texas Teachers of Tomorrow is at risk of losing 10 certification fields. State requirements say that educator preparation programs cannot train interns to teach in a particular subject if their candidates fail certification exams three years in a row.


For example, Texas requires that 75% of candidates who want to teach secondary math pass their certification exams. Only 69% of candidates in the program passed in 2022, and only 68% passed in 2023. Other areas where the preparation program fell short included elementary core subjects and secondary social studies.


This isn’t the first time the prep program has faced issues. Texas Teachers of Tomorrow was placed on probation after state auditors reported concerns in 2021. Those concerns included misleading potential teachers with its advertising and failing to demonstrate that the training the program provided was based on research. Another news report stated that several teaching candidates filed complaints about the program as well.


Without state accreditation, a teacher preparation program CANNOT continue producing certified teachers.


One of the most important decisions you will have to make should come before you ever enter a teaching credential program. It is critically important that the EPP you choose is not only a fully accredited program but also has a clean history without any significant compliance or accreditation issues.


In other words, a teacher certification program should not be - or should never have been - on the state’s radar and at risk of losing the ability to certify teacher candidates for issues like too many interns failing certification exams, misleading advertising or complaints filed against the organization by interns.

Why Is Choosing A Teacher Prep Program With A Clean Record Important? 



Educator preparation programs, or EPPs, are structured pathways designed to train individuals in the skills, knowledge and methodologiestexas teacher necessary for teaching. Especially for those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree, EPPs can be a quick path for aspiring educators to enter the profession. 


Choosing a teacher preparation program with a clean record is crucial for ensuring a smooth and successful start to your teaching career. 


Not only does a program's accreditation status reflect its adherence to high standards of quality and effectiveness, but it also serves as an assurance of legitimacy within the education sector. If a program's accreditation is revoked while you are enrolled, it can disrupt your academic progress, potentially delaying or complicating your path to becoming a certified teacher. 


Even if you have already graduated, being associated with a program that later faces accreditation issues can tarnish your professional reputation. Employers may view graduates of such programs with skepticism, casting doubt on their qualifications and preparedness for the classroom. 


Selecting an educator preparation program with a clean record is essential for safeguarding your career prospects and credibility within the field of education.



What Do Top Teacher Prep Programs Offer?



Any teacher credential program you are considering should be on the Texas Education Agency’s state-approved educator preparation programs list. If a program you are considering is not on this list, your certification will not be recognized as legitimate, and therefore you will not be able to teach in the state. 


To be on the approved preparation program list, a program must meet the criteria established by the TEA and show that it prepares qualified educators to meet the needs of all learners in the state’s classrooms. Even if a program is on this list, it’s also important to check whether the program is on probation and why. 


Yet the approved list alone doesn’t distinguish the top programs apart from the rest. Here are some of the top qualities of the best teaching credential programs and what they offer to you as an aspiring educator.


A Unique Timeline


Your journey into teaching should be as unique as you are, tailored to your individual needs, goals and schedule. Exceptional teaching credential programs understand this and will craft a personalized plan specifically for you, guiding you toward your objectives. 


During your exploration of programs, observe whether the admissions professionals take the time to explore all your options with you, ensuring that you find the perfect fit – where you align with the program and it with you.


Subpar teaching credential programs may view you merely as a statistic, neglecting to prioritize a personalized approach for your educational journey. If a program's timeline feels rigid and fails to consider your qualifications and aspirations, it might not be the right fit. 


Remember, the subject and grade level you aspire to teach will dictate the content exams and coursework necessary, tailoring your path accordingly. Whether your aim is a single-subject or multiple-subject teaching credential, your prior education and experience will influence exam requirements and the timing of your student teaching placement. Each journey is unique, and your timeline should reflect your individual path, not conform to a one-size-fits-all model.

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Experienced Advisers


As you progress through your teacher preparation program, you'll be assigned an in-field advisor, but the qualifications and effectiveness of these advisors are not standardized. Optimal teaching credential programs will pair you with seasoned advisors who serve as supportive mentors, guiding you through your inaugural year in the classroom. 


These advisors should be readily available to offer assistance and conduct regular classroom observations in the districts where you're completing your student teaching, providing valuable feedback to enhance your teaching practice.


When assessing programs, seek those that proudly showcase their advisors' credentials on their website, highlighting their backgrounds as former or current educators, principals or vice principals.


A Full-Circle Approach


The path toward certification encompasses three key components: training, testing and student teaching. The most effective teaching credential programs adopt a holistic, full-circle approach, where interns engage with all three components concurrently.


What does this comprehensive approach entail? Imagine each component as an open ring. While certain aspects of training must be fulfilled prior to testing and student teaching, others can be undertaken simultaneously while you're in the classroom as a teacher of record. This integrated approach enables you to progress through each component simultaneously, closing each ring concurrently rather than sequentially.


Conversely, subpar teaching credential programs may restrict you from addressing different certification requirements simultaneously, leading to inefficiencies and potentially prolonging your journey toward certification. Embracing a full-circle approach streamlines the certification process, maximizing your time and efforts as you work toward becoming a certified educator.


Test Preparation


Ensuring candidates are ready for their certification tests should be a given, but you may be surprised to know that some teaching credential programs only offer test preparation to those willing to pay the extra costs. 


From your content exams to the PPR, or the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities, you must pass a certain number of tests in order to teach in the state. 


Teaching credential programs are also required to meet Texas Administrative Code benchmarks regarding testing. If too many interns fail a certification exam three years in a row, the credential program won’t be able to continue to train individuals to teach in that particular subject area. 


It’s in the best interest of both the credential program and its interns to ensure you are as well-trained and prepared for these important tests as possible. That’s why it’s important to look for a teaching preparation program that includes test preparation as part of its training … not as a way to nickel and dime you.


An Extensive Network


In addition to personalized support and comprehensive training, another hallmark of a top-tier teaching credential program is an extensive network of partnerships with school districts across Texas. 


The top programs actively cultivate relationships with local school districts, positioning themselves as valuable resources for both aspiring educators and district administrators. By forging strong connections within the education community, these programs are often the first to learn about job openings and career opportunities within schools. 


In fact, many districts routinely reach out to reputable certification programs for recommendations when seeking to hire new teachers. This network not only provides invaluable access to job prospects but also fosters a sense of community and collaboration among program participants. 


Aspiring educators enrolled in programs with extensive networks can benefit from enhanced job placement opportunities, professional networking events and ongoing support as they navigate their teaching careers and thrive in their educational journey.


teacher certification program

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.

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