Navigating a timeline that outlines when you need to take the appropriate tests to become a certified teacher can be a bit like reading a map that is constantly changing.
This year alone, the state of Texas has changed its requirements twice for when teaching interns should take their content exams. As with any change, these updates have impacted other parts of the timeline, including when interns should begin student teaching.
The good news is for anyone who is considering enrolling in teacher training services to become an educator, there is no better time than now thanks to the most recent update that allows interns to get into a classroom more quickly.
Old Rules For Testing
Prior to Jan. 27, 2020, individuals took the appropriate content exams before officially enrolling in an alternative teacher certification program.
On that date, however, the state enacted new laws requiring applicants whose college transcripts did not meet a minimum 2.5 GPA requirement or did not contain sufficient coursework to take a TxPACT exam.
This test was then used for program admission to an educator preparation program (EPP). Those who did meet the required standards above could be accepted into a program without the TxPACT exam.
These changes impacted all applicants’ timelines, however, because it meant that program interns had to wait to take any TExES content exams until after they had already been accepted into a program, had completed any required coursework and had been given permission to take the test.
Because passage of the TExES content exams was required to earn an internship certificate (also known as a student teaching certificate), this meant individuals enrolled in an EPP could not begin student teaching until they were well into their teacher training program.
New Rules For Testing
As part of a COVID-19 disaster declaration, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is now allowing program interns to apply for an internship certificate before passing their content exams.
This important change is the result of temporarily suspended provisions of the state’s educator certification laws, which allows individuals enrolled in an EPP to begin their student teaching internships before taking their content exams.
These temporary rules have been put into place because state testing centers remain closed or are allowing fewer test takers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, EPP enrollees can apply and fulfill their one-year intern certificate without having to first pass the required content tests.
A Revised Timeline
How have the above changes revised timelines for testing? Although the changes are only temporary, they are significant.
To take advantage of this opportunity, here is a timeline that will help ensure you meet the requirements and stay on track for beginning your teaching internship prior to the Oct. 1 deadline:
Apply to ECAP. Like any EPP, you will need to meet any program requirements. This includes passing the TxPACT exams if you do not meet the minimum requirements. However, you should not take the TxPACT for ECAP until ECAP instructs you to do so. That’s because ECAP may require you to take a different level TxPACT than the one the Texas Education Agency (TEA) prescribes.
Establish an account with the TEA. This is the agency through which you will apply for any certificates and complete all required background checks.
Receive a statement of eligibility from ECAP, and begin your job hunt. Programs like ECAP offer an extensive network of resources that can help match you with the perfect internship opportunity.
Complete 150 hours of training. You can do that as you continue to apply for internship opportunities, but you must complete this before your first day of teaching.
Accept a student teaching position. Once you are offered a job and have completed the 150 hours of training, you can begin your training in the classroom.
Work with advisers to determine your individual timeline for completing your content tests and any other requirements that you must meet during the course of your training, such as the PPR (Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities exam).
The most important aspect of this change is its timing. The above timeline is only in effect until Oct. 1. That means you must apply and be accepted into an EPP and be offered a teaching position prior to the Oct. 1 deadline in order to take advantage of this opportunity.
While this opportunity is good news for many, it is critical that you do not delay in completing any of the above steps. Establishing an account with the TEA and completing the required background checks can take several weeks alone, for example.
It is also important to make sure you fall into one of the groups that this temporary suspension impacts:
Teacher candidates who will begin an internship in Fall 2020
Teacher candidates who will complete clinical teaching in 2020-2021
Non-teacher candidates who will complete a practicum in 2020-2021
Teacher candidates who will complete field-based experiences in 2020-2021
Lastly, because it can be challenging to navigate these newest requirements, it is important to work with your alternative teacher certification program to ensure you are on the right track.
A high-quality program like ECAP has your best interest in mind and will help secure your future as a teacher by working with you to establish an individual timeline and by providing you with the resources you need to be successful.
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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