If you’re considering changing careers and pursuing education, you’re likely thinking about the subject area you wish to teach.
The good news is that in Texas, you have many options in earning a single subject teaching credential, which authorizes the holder to teach a specific subject(s) within the scope of the credential.
Below we’ll explore some of your options and take a look at how you can earn your single subject teaching credential in Texas.
What Are My Single Subject Teaching Credential Options?
To earn your intern certificate and get into the classroom, you must take at least one content exam in the area you wish to teach. If you want to become credentialed in more than one area, then you would pursue a multiple subject teaching credential (and take more than one content exam).
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, theatre, English language arts and reading, history and mathematics.
The teacher certification areas offered in the state can be found on the Texas Education Agency’s Required Test Chart for Texas Certification page.
Which Content Exam Should I Choose?
The decision behind which content exam you should take is often based on your own personal interests … what you want to teach, and who you wish to teach.
If you’re interested in working with elementary students, you will likely choose a Core Subjects exam. If you want to work with students in a specialized setting at an elementary school, your focus may be on tests like Languages Other Than English, Physical Education, Art, Special Education, or Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
At the secondary level, you can take a Core Subjects exam for grades 4 through 8, allowing you to teach older elementary or middle school students.
If you have an interest in working with high school students, you’ll likely need to take a content exam that focuses on a specific subject, such as Technology Education, History, Speech or Mathematics. Many of these content exams overlap grades, allowing you to teach either at the middle school or high school levels.
You may also choose to take a content exam based on strategy or available opportunities. Some of the most in-demand teaching jobs in Texas are in the fields of Special Education, Career and Technical Education, and Mathematics. These fields reflect the ongoing teacher shortage issue in the state.
Every year, the Texas Education Agency submits a list of teacher shortage areas in public schools by subject matter to the U.S. Department of Education. Individuals who choose to teach in these areas may be eligible for student loan forgiveness.
If you teach in one of these in-demand areas, you may also have more options available to you when looking for a teaching job as well as higher pay.
When Do I Take A Content Exam?
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 understand his or her current knowledge level in each subject area and know which areas need further training.
We then 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.
What Are The Other Requirements For Earning A Teaching Credential?
Taking your content exam to earn a single subject credential is an important step in earning your teacher certificate. However, that’s just one step toward a rewarding career in education.
The first step is to enroll in an educator preparation program (EPP). To earn a teaching credential in Texas, you must either get a bachelor’s degree in elementary or secondary education and earn your teaching certificate through a college or university program, OR complete an educator preparation program, which allows individuals who did not get a bachelor’s degree in education to satisfy the education and training requirements.
An EPP, also known as an alternative teacher certification program, will help you determine which content exam you need to take based on your future teaching goals.
Once accepted into a teaching credential program, you’ll begin your training. This consists of online or in-person classes or a combination of both.
You will need to complete both coursework and field experience, also known as student teaching. Your training includes:
- A minimum of 300 hours of training to receive a standard teaching certificate
- Of these 300 hours of training, 30 must be dedicated to observation by a teacher advisor or in a classroom environment.
It’s important to note that the 30 hours of observation by a teacher advisor is a very important part of your certification process. These certified teachers recommend your credential program whether you are ready or not to teach in the classroom.
Here is where the program you choose makes a difference. ECAP has former principals, vice principals and teachers who have extensive experience to help you through this process. Not all programs do this. Some simply send past teachers who are ex-students of their program to evaluate you, so it is important to contact the program you are considering to ensure that you are going to get the best advisor to help you.
You must also pass your certification exams, including the content test. Depending on your content test, you may also need to take the Science of Teaching Reading exam. This teaching reading exam is required if you plan to get certified in one of the following 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
Currently, you must also take the PPR, or Texas Examinations of Educator Standards Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities. However, this testing requirement could change in the near future (read additional information about this in our VERY IMPORTANT update in our article, EdTPA Rejected: Get Teaching License Now Before More Barriers Go Up.)
You must also submit a state application for your standard certificate and complete any fingerprinting and background checks required.
How Can A Teaching Credential Program Help?
An experienced teaching credential program will help you determine which content exam best matches your teaching goals. The best programs will also lead you to success by creating an individualized timeline and working with you side-by-side to ensure you stay on track.
If you’re considering becoming a teacher, it’s important to act now while current certification requirements remain in place. If you wait for just a year or two from now, you may face more difficult barriers to earning certification.
An experienced EPP can help you navigate these evolving requirements and will treat you as more than a number. Continuous support and information are key, as well as extensive experience in working with school districts across the state to place interns in teaching positions.
While changes in certification requirements may be on the horizon, the best teaching programs will adopt any new testing changes into the high-quality curriculum in place so that you can complete your journey toward teaching as quickly as possible.