While many aspiring teachers complete their studies at universities and colleges, there are alternative paths that many others are taking to fulfill their dreams.
One of these popular paths in Texas is through online teaching certification programs. With any online program, it’s important to be diligent to avoid fraudulent programs claiming they will get you certified to teach. Instead, you end up wasting your time and money.
This leads many to consider changing careers to ask: Are online teaching credential programs accredited?
Yes, many online teaching credential programs are accredited in Texas. In fact, educator preparation programs (EPPs) are among the most popular ways to become certified to teach in Texas, with nearly 50% of new teachers earning certification through these credential programs.
Perform a quick search on the internet, and you’ll see just how many programs are out there to assist aspiring teachers, but how do you know which ones are legitimate and which ones best meet your needs as you begin your journey?
A teaching credential program provides you with the training needed to become a licensed teacher. Also known as an educator preparation program or alternative teacher certification program, a teaching credential program provides individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to earn certification.
While some teaching credential programs are 100% online, others are fully in-person or a combination of both.
In Texas, an approved educator preparation program must provide interns with 300 hours of training for them to earn a teaching certificate. Texas Administrative Code does allow prior degrees, military service, paid work experience and specific training to count toward this total in some cases. Of these 300 hours, 30 hours are required to be mentor-observed classroom teaching time (student teaching).
To enroll in a teacher credential program, a prospective teacher must meet certain requirements. These include:
Texas Administrative Code does allow for some exceptions to this enrollment rule. If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, you can still qualify for a teaching credential program if you have an associate’s degree. In this case, you must have at least two years of full-time wage-earning experience within the past 10 years in the field you plan to teach. If you do not have a degree, you must have five years of experience.
If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, you must also have a current license to teach Health Science, Technology, Criminal Justice or Cosmetology.
To find out whether an in-person or online teaching credential program is accredited, you can take a look at the approved programs list on the Texas Education Agency’s website.
The Texas Education Agency is the state agency that oversees primary and secondary public education in the state. The agency ensures that the state’s EPPs prepare qualified educators to meet the need of learners.
Only programs on this list may recommend an individual for a Texas educator certificate. So if you enroll in an educator preparation program NOT on this list, your hard work will likely go to waste.
For a program to be included on this list, it must provide the TEA and the State Board for Educator Certification information about their programs on an annual basis. EPPs must also meet all requirements as listed in Texas Education Code Section 21.0452.
Even if a program is accredited, it does not mean it is the right pathway for you. Let’s break down how they differ.
One of the biggest differences among programs is whether they are offered 100% online or partly online.
While online programs offer many benefits, such as course availability and the convenience of taking courses around your schedule, there are some drawbacks. When programs are fully online, you’ll likely have fewer:
An alternative teacher certification program that offers the best of worlds may make the most sense for your situation, allowing you to work around your schedule but with the same advantages as an in-person program.
Above, we outlined the required training teaching credential programs must offer (300 hours of training, 30 of which is mentor-observed classroom teaching time), but this is where teaching credential programs forge different paths as well.
The 30 hours of observation by a teacher advisor is a very important part of your certification process. These teacher advisors will send information to your program whether you are ready or not ready to teach in the classroom.
ECAP has former principals, vice principals and teachers with extensive experience to help you through this process. Not all programs do this. Some simply send past teachers who are even ex-students of their program to evaluate you, so it is important to contact the program you are considering to ensure that you will get the best advisor to help you.
Certification requirements often change in the state. It’s important to enroll in a teaching credential program that is on top of the changing landscape of education in Texas … and a program that can ensure you are doing what you need to do when you need to.
For example, teaching interns are currently required to take the PPR, or Texas Examinations of Educator Standards Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities, to become certified. However, this requirement could change shortly as lawmakers look for ways to better demonstrate a readiness to teach.
Any future changes could make it more difficult to become a teacher, so it’s important that you work with a program that stays on top of regulatory changes and helps you prepare for testing updates.
As part of the requirements to earn certification, you must pass a series of exams. Which ones you must take depends on the certification area you seek.
Every student intern must take at least one content test to earn a single subject teaching credential. However, while you can become certified in a specific subject, such as special education or science, but can also earn a multiple subject teaching credential by taking multiple content exams.
In addition, you may also need to take the Science of Teaching Reading exam if you plan to teach at the elementary level or in one of a few other subject areas. You can read more about each of these exams in our article, List of Texas Teacher Certification Tests: What You Must Take To Teach.
The best teacher preparation programs will prepare candidates for these important tests as part of the curriculum … not as costly add-ons.
Other ways one EPP may differ from another include:
The last note above is particularly important because advisors play an important role in your teacher education. Although an in-field advisor is mandated by the state of Texas, how available these advisors are to you can differ based on the program.
The best teaching credential programs will ensure advisors make periodic classroom visits to observe your teaching and provide feedback, as well as provide you with experienced advisors who have been teachers, principals and vice principals.
While in-person or online teaching credential programs must be accredited or approved by the state in order for you to earn your Texas teacher certification, this is only one quality of a program you should consider.
While there are several approved programs across the state, many characteristics can make a program stand out among the pack, from the availability and convenience of courses to the quality of its advisors.
Considering all of these factors will put you on a more successful path toward a certification and a teaching career.
Topics: Teacher Training
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.