Texas teachers are needed, especially in the areas of STEM education.
In fact, according to the Texas Education Agency(TEA), among the teacher shortage areas the state is experiencing for the 2021-2022 school year are:
Technology Applications and Computer Science at both the elementary and secondary levels
Mathematics at the secondary levels
Career and Technical Education at the secondary levels
With a rising enrollment in Texas public schools(a nearly 9% increase between the 2010-11 and 2020-21 school years), filling these open STEM teacher positions is a priority for many school districts.
If you’re considering a career change or have recently graduated from college with a degree in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), pursuing a STEM teacher certification online offers an opportunity to meet a need in the education of today’s youth. Here’s how to get started.
Choose Your Certification Program
In Texas, you must be certified in the area you wish to teach. Educator preparation programs (EPP) offer a great opportunity to fulfill the requirements mandated by the TEA to earn certification. In fact, nearly half of all new teachers to the Texas education system enroll in alternative teacher certification programs like ECAP because of benefits like course availability and flexible scheduling.
In most cases, you need to have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA from an accredited institution of higher learning. If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, but are applying for Health Science Technology or Trades & Industrial Education teaching certificates, you can qualify based on wage-earning experience in these fields:
If you have an associate’s degree: Two years experience over the past 10 years in the field to be taught
No degree: Five years experience over the past 10 years in the field to be taught
It is also required that you must have completed 12 semester credit hours in the certification subject, but for math or science in 7th grade or above, you must have completed 15. If you do not meet this requirement or the GPA requirement, you must take a TxPACT exam as part of program admission requirements.
Once you meet the qualifications for enrolling in an EPP, the next step is to choose which program best fits your needs as you pursue your STEM certification.
Our article, 7 Qualities Of A Top Teacher Preparation Program Online, outlines what to look for in an EPP to help ensure that you have the best experience. In general, it’s important to make sure the program you choose is approved by the TEA and that there are opportunities for in-person interaction.
Although enrolling in an online program offers many benefits like convenience and course availability, choosing a program that also offers in-person learning can come with benefits that strictly online programs simply can’t replicate.
For example, in-person training provides more opportunities to develop personal and professional connections, better availability of instructors, networking moments with other interns, and opportunities to collaborate through teamwork and hands-on learning.
Programs that combine online learning with in-person training can offer the best of both worlds.
Complete Initial Requirements And Take Content Exam
Once you select an EPP, the next step is to complete any remaining initial requirements. These include:
Establishing a TEA Login (TEAL) account that gives you access to your profile located in the Educator Certification Online System (ECOS)
Completing a national criminal background check, which includes a fingerprinting process
Completing minimum training required to take your practice content exam
Take the appropriate content exam to earn an intern or probationary certificate
At ECAP, 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 if you don’t get 270 to concentrate on areas your practice exam results indicate you need further training in. Once you score a 270, ECAP will give you permission to take your content exam(s).
So, which content exams should you take? TExES content exams qualify teachers for certification in more than 60 specialties. Which one(s) you take will depend on which grade level and subject area you wish to teach.
Keep in mind that the best educator preparation programs will work with you to determine which content exams you should take to ensure you are certified to teach in your desired subject area and grade level.
Once you pass a content exam, you can apply for an intern certificate on the TEAL account you established at the beginning of your journey.
Complete Your Training And The PPR
Once you have your intern certificate, you can begin looking for a teaching internship as you complete the rest of your training requirements.
In Texas, you must complete a minimum of 300 hours of training to receive a standard teaching certificate. Of these 300 hours, 30 must be dedicated to the observation of a certified teacher in a classroom environment.
Once these 300 hours are completed, you can take the PPR, or the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities. This exam “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.
In other words, this test focuses on whether you have learned to:
Design instruction that promotes student learning
Create a positive productive classroom environment
Implement effective, responsive instruction and assessment
Fulfill professional roles and responsibilities
You must pass the PPR to earn your standard certification to teach STEM or any other subject. When choosing a preparation program, look for one that helps prepare you for the PPR by offering test preparation as part of its curriculum and not as a costly add-on.
Once you pass the PPR, you can apply for your standard teaching certificate, which you must re-apply for every five years.
A Promising Career
With the great need for STEM teachers in Texas, choosing a field that teaches today’s youth science, technology, engineering or math skills can set you up for a promising career.
If you’re considering meeting one of the greatest needs in the state’s public education system, it’s important to begin your journey on the right note. You can do this by choosing a certification program that works with you to ensure you meet all the requirements in a timely manner so that you can begin helping your students forge their own paths for success.
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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