If you are interested in becoming a Texas teacher, there are a lot of important decisions that you must make in order to make your dream a reality. One of the most important decisions is which route to take in order to get your Texas teaching certificate.
The most popular method of becoming a teacher is through an alternative certification program (ACP), with almost half of new Texas teachers choosing this pathway.
When looking at which alternative certification program is best for you, you must consider each program with your job search in mind. Due to an enormous amount of new TEA regulations (Texas Education Agency), hiring, searching for a job and even gaining admission into a Texas teachers program or University program have drastically changed over the last year.
It’s important to stay informed of these changes to make sure that you are prepared for the 2018/2019 hiring window.
The key point I want to make sure you understand is that you need to start your Texas teacher preparation EARLY, if you want to stay ahead of the competition and land the teaching role that you covet.
Delay, and it will be an uphill struggle.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 things you need to know when applying to an ACP.
Top 5 Things You Need To Know
Change Your Mindset
The old way of thinking is that you must get into a program to be able to apply for jobs. That is no longer the case. To become hireable, you now need to pass your Texas Teacher Certification Tests(content tests). Once you’ve passed your content tests, then you can apply for a program that will support you on an Intern Certificate.
Tip: You want to look for a program that will walk you through the testing process in order to be “formally admitted” into the program.
Make Yourself Marketable
It is is important to understand that there are high-need hiring areas in the State of Texas that will almost assure you of getting a job, if you can pass the exam. The most in-demand teaching jobs in Texas are STEM, bilingual and special needs teaching positions.
Ask yourself “what do I want to teach?” Then compare your desires to these high need areas. You may need to find a middle ground with which to pursue your area of certification.
Tip: Look at which “high need” areas line up with what you desire to teach, understand that if you choose a low need area, it may take longer to be hired.
Test and Test Again
While the program guides you through the admittance process, test as much as possible. Do this before being “formally admitted” into an ACP. During this period, you are a “Free Agent”. Therefore, you are able to take as many content tests as you like without restriction, up to the five time testing limit.
You should take all the content tests you feel you might want to pursue; your program should give you guidance as to priority of tests and how to register. Upon passing your first content test you should start applying to school districts and update your application as you increase content areas.
Tip: With the new regulation, once you are admitted into an ACP, you are greatly restricted from taking additional tests. This is why should to pass all desired content tests before admittance into a program.
Find The Right Program
The simple view of what your ACP should provide is on-the-job-training. Make sure the program you choose provides strong support in the classroom, as this is the area you are ultimately graded on. You are recommended for certification based upon your performance in the classroom and the recommendation of your ACP. It’s important that you actually receive the support that you need, at the time you need it the most.
There are three requirements in order to be certified in Texas:
Testing - As mentioned before, you should test in all content areas that you would like to teach. In addition to your content exams, you must also pass the Pedagogy and Professional Development test (PPR). Your ACP should prepare you for this test. The PPR is taken after you obtain a teaching position.
Coursework - TEA requires a minimum of 300 hours of coursework. Think of the coursework as the tools in your toolbox that help you be successful in your classroom.
Teaching Successfully for One Year - In my opinion, this is the most important aspect of the certification process. Your ACP should have quality, experienced advisors to assist in the classroom. No matter what your academic background is, nothing prepares you for the classroom like being in the classroom.
Choosing an the right alternative certification provider is the most important decision you will make on the road to becoming a Texas teacher.
Make sure when comparing your options that you find a program that helps you become highly marketable for the job you are seeking and provides the best support once you are teaching in the classroom.
Scott is the Deputy Executive Director and Program Consultant. Scott earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology from Texas Women's University and a Master of Education from Texas Women's University. Scott has extensive experience in both the classroom and as an administrator in districts in North Texas.
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