Each state has its own set of certification rules in order to become a teacher, and Texas is no different.
When it comes to earning your certification online, this path is becoming an increasingly popular way toward getting you into your own classroom. In fact, nearly half of all new teachers in the state of Texas are prepared through alternative programs.
If you’re considering earning your teacher certification online, you’ll want to first familiarize yourself with any requirements you must meet. Below, we’ll outline certification rules Texas has put into place that you should know if you’re thinking about applying to an online teacher certification program.
Getting Into An Online Alternative Teacher Certification Program
There are two ways to qualify for an online teaching degree in Texas through an alternative teacher certification program: If you have a bachelor’s degree, or have life experience that meets the requirements of the program.
If you have a bachelor’s degree…
Your degree must be from an accredited institution of higher learning, as required by the Texas Education Agency and Texas Administrative Code. You must also meet the following criteria:
Minimum 2.5 GPA, confirmed in one of two ways:
Minimum 2.5 GPA on an official transcript from an accredited institution
Minimum 2.5 GPA in the last 60 semester hours of courses attempted
Students in the final semester: If you’re currently completing your last semester toward a bachelor’s degree, you are eligible to apply. However, you must provide a copy of your final semester schedule of classes letter from an academic adviser or registrar indicating you are eligible for graduation.
If you are graduating from a university outside the United States or U.S. Territories, you must also provide:
Foreign transcripts that have been equivocated by a recognized transcript evaluation service
Proof of oral English language proficiency by passing the oral proficiency portion of the TOEFL
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 don’t have your bachelor’s degree …
You can still be eligible for an online teacher certification with a 2-year degree or years of work experience.
Associate’s degree: If you have a 2-year associate’s degree, you must provide:
An associate’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning that at the time was accredited or otherwise approved by an accrediting organization recognized by the THECB
Two years of full-time wage-earning experience within the past 10 years in the field to be taught
A current license in order to teach Health Science Technology, Criminal Justice and Cosmetology
No degree: The Texas Education Agency and the Texas Administrative Code require that you have five years of full-time wage-earning experience within the past 10 years in the field to be taught.
If You Live Outside Texas
Even if you have engaged in coursework or training in another state, Texas has provided a path for you to earn your teaching license. In fact, you wouldn’t be alone. Approximately 13% of all new teachers to the Texas education system come from out-of-state programs.
If you’ve taken courses or experienced training in the education field, your credits may transfer toward fulfilling alternative education program training requirements. Each circumstance is different, but in general, no teacher certification program can use transfer coursework older than five years.
If you’ve completed work in an alternative teacher certification program in another state, it’s also more likely that your field-based experience will transfer between two programs.
If you are a member of the Armed Forces, Texas has added a legal requirement that says an Educator Preparation Program must have procedures in place that allow credit for military service and training that is directly related to the certification area you seek.
If you already have a teacher certification in another state, the Texas Education Agency has requirements in place for those who do hold a standard certificate issued by another state or U.S. territory. You must apply for a review of credentials if you want to become certified in Texas. Typically, Texas reciprocates with most states by allowing a one-year certification while you pass appropriate TExES exams.
Now that you know about the requirements to enter into an online teacher certification program and what’s required of you to transfer your credentials from another state, it’s important to know what training requirements you must complete as well.
In the state of Texas, you must complete a minimum of 300 hours of training to receive a standard teaching certificate.
Of these 300 hours, the state requires that 30 are dedicated to the observation of a certified teacher in the classroom environment. This is often called “field-based experience.”
Alternative certification programs, in particular, provide you with an opportunity to start your career in the classroom through online coursework, in-classroom training and mentorships. Each program is different, which is why it’s important to determine which style of learning and environment is best for you.
After completing the necessary coursework, the state requires that you take the appropriate 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.
ECAP requires that you must first complete 40 hours of training before taking a practice content exam. We tell our interns to aim for a score of 270 and concentrate on areas your practice exam results indicate you need further training in.
Once score reporting shows you have achieved 270 on your practice exam, ECAP will give you permission to make your testing appointments and take your content exams.
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 to having the best chance of success on this important test.
Depending on which subject area you wish to teach, the state may require you to take one additional test to become certified. The Science of Teaching Reading (STR) is one of the new changes to teaching programs in Texas. Not everyone has to take it, but you do if you plan to get certified in these areas:
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
In addition to completing an approved educator program and passing certification exams, you must complete these final state requirements to earn your certification:
Submit a state application: This cannot be applied for until all requirements are met. You should apply after you have verified with your online certification program that you are eligible. To apply, you’ll need to set up a Texas Education Agency Login (TEAL) account. This will give you access to your profile that is located in the Educator Certification Online System (ECOS).
Complete fingerprinting: All applicants who are applying for the first time must be fingerprinted. This is done as a part of a national criminal background check. The TEA evaluated any criminal history on a case-by-case basis, taking into account several factors.
Navigating the process to earn your online teacher certification can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if you are uncertain of whether your qualifications meet state requirements.
Working with an alternative certification program that has positive reviews, and knowledgeable and experienced staff is important. That’s because you want a program that will take the time to speak with you, evaluate your credentials and help answer any questions you may have so that you can begin your journey toward reaching your teaching goals.
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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