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Top 5 Red Flags To Avoid With Online Teacher Licensure Programs

by
Micah Fikes
Micah Fikes on February 27, 2021

If you’ve made the decision to pursue a career in education, your next step is to find the right program to help make your dreams a reality. 

Online teacher licensure programs are one of the most popular ways to earn certification in the state of Texas. 

Similar to other states, online teacher certification in Texas has its own set of rules and regulations that must be followed in order to become certified. These include eligibility rules for admittance into an educator preparation program (EPP), training and testing requirements, and final application procedures. 

Choosing the right teacher licensure program is important to ensure you get to the front of the classroom quickly and feel as prepared as possible to take the helm. Looking for potential red flags when choosing a program can help prevent any delays in achieving your goals.

The top 5 red flags to avoid when evaluating online teacher licensure programs are:

  1. The licensure program is not TEA approved
  2. There are no opportunities for in-person training
  3. Your timeline isn’t personalized
  4. They don’t have test preparation…it is a costly add-on
  5. The program’s support vanishes

 

1. The Licensure Program Is Not TEA Approved

 

Online Teacher Licensure ProgramsSearch the web and you’ll likely find a lot of websites that say they will help you become a certified teacher. Choose one that isn’t approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and you’ll likely waste a lot of money and time.

 The TEA is the state agency that oversees primary and secondary public education in the state of Texas. The TEA approves all educator preparation programs, including alternative certification programs like ECAP. 

To become licensed to teach in Texas, you must complete coursework through one of these approved programs because only programs on the state-approved educator preparation program list may recommend a person for a Texas educator certificate.

No matter how good the program sounds, a major red flag is if the program is not approved by the TEA.

 

2. There Are No Opportunities For In-Person Training

 

Online programs offer many great benefits, especially when it comes to flexibility and online course availability. While strictly online teacher licensure programs can fulfill minimum training requirements, if you’re looking for opportunities to network and have a more personalized experience, 100% online programs may not be for you.

Alternative teacher certification programs that offer a combination of online and in-person training can provide you with the best of both worlds and eliminate any red flags. You will still enjoy the flexibility that an online program offers, which can be especially beneficial if you are employed, are a parent or have other time-consuming obligations.

However, programs that offer in-person training as well provide additional benefits that simply can’t be replicated in an online platform, including:

  • The development of personal and professional connections through face-to-face interaction
  • The availability of instructors to answer your questions promptly
  • Networking opportunities, either planned or spontaneous
  • Personalized help from staff you think of you as a person rather than a number behind the computer screen
  • Opportunities to collaborate through teamwork

Hands-on learning should never be taken for granted either, since these in-person experiences can provide you with valuable tools you can use in the classroom.

 

3. Your Timeline Isn’t Personalized

 

Online Teacher Licensure ProgramsIt’s easy to get lost in a sea of applicants and interns wanting to earn their teaching certification. The best certification programs won’t let that happen.

One of the first action items a high-quality alternative teacher certification program will take is working with you to develop a timeline for completing the training and testing required of you to become certified. That’s never been more important than now with several recent testing requirement changes.

Knowing which exams you must take and when are common questions among new interns. Between the TxPACT exam, content exams, new Science of Teaching Reading (STR) exam and the PPR (Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities) exam, it can be difficult to navigate these requirements alone. 

When ECAP accepts interns into its program, the individual works with ECAP to assess how these requirements impact your specific timeline, as well as which content exams best fit your end goals. 

ECAP also uses a full circle approach that focuses on three components:

  1. Training
  2. Testing
  3. Teaching

All three are essential for success, and at ECAP, all individuals enrolled work on these components simultaneously in order to complete the program more quickly and efficiently.

Any program not willing to offer a personalized approach to your timeline should be a huge red flag … and avoided.

 

4. They Don’t Have Test Preparation... It Is A Costly Add-On

 

Ensuring you know what tests to take and when is just the first step. Preparation for those tests is just as important. 

While several teacher licensure programs offer test preparation for the PPR, many offer it as a costly add-on. Training should include all the tools you need to pass this important exam. Training tools may include practice tests, videos and online and in-person courses.

Programs that make you pay extra for a critical training component don’t have your best interest in mind, and that should be a major red flag as you navigate your choices.

 

5. The Program’s Support Vanishes


 

Online Teacher Licensure ProgramsAnytime a company is trying to sell itself to you, you’re likely to feel as if you are its only customer. But as soon as you buy in, oftentimes, that attention disappears. 

It’s no different with online teacher certification programs, who may want nothing more than to sign you up and move on to the next prospect. 

Going through the process to become a teacher and getting into the classroom can be a frustrating experience at times. Like any profession, you may struggle as you’re learning techniques and applying them in the field. 

But as you navigate your choices in licensure programs, how can you ensure you choose a certification program that will provide you with the support you need to succeed … in the beginning and through your entire preparation? 

Here are a few things to look for:

  • The pairing is a good fit for both. The best certification programs will make sure you are a good fit for them and they’re a good fit for you. Although all EPPs in Texas have the same requirements, programs can be very different. Look for a program that stresses finding the right match for you and for the program itself.
  • Training advisers are promoted. In Texas, a program must pair you with a training adviser who will work with you to ensure you are an effective and dynamic teacher for your students. Although this is mandated, look for a program that is proud of its training advisers and shows it by promoting them and their credentials on the program’s website. Check to see if the in-field advisers are accessible to you throughout the school year and will make periodic classroom visits as well.  
  • Reviews are positive. Reviews are an easy way to determine whether a program is credible and to get a better idea of the experiences other interns have had during their training. They can also highlight what other interns have perceived are the strengths of the program. Keep in mind that studies show that individuals are more likely to post a bad review than a good review - as much as two to three times more likely. However, if you see a problematic issue frequently addressed in a program’s reviews, that can serve as an important red flag that you may experience as well. Don’t be afraid to address any issues you read in reviews with the program that you are considering to see if and how the program has rectified the problems. 
  • The program has a well-known reputation. Doing a little research on the program you are considering can go a long way. The best programs are known for putting students ahead of the curve and working with school districts to fill open teaching positions. Programs that have built relationships with school districts often are the first to know about any openings.  

If you don’t seem like you’re the right fit for a program’s structure, yet the program continues to push you to apply, that should be a red flag. Any EPP that isn’t proud of its training advisor program or has a well-known reputation among the school districts in the state should also be red-flagged.

 

Ensure Success By Avoiding These Red Flags

 

While an online teacher licensure program is one of the most popular ways to get certified to teach in Texas, it isn’t a choice to take lightly. Finding the right program for you is essential to ensuring success both during your coursework and in the classroom. 

Avoiding the five red flags outlined above will help prevent any delays that can occur by choosing a program that isn’t approved, doesn’t offer the type of training that sets you up for the most success, and doesn’t provide you with the support you need.

On the other hand, selecting a program that offers valuable training, personalizes your timeline and provides ongoing support will offer you a strong foundation for your career in education.

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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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