A lot has changed over the past year, including when the state requires that you take your Texas teacher certification exams.
The changing procedures can be confusing, especially considering that taking your certification exams are an essential component in your journey toward becoming a teacher.
Below we’ll set the record straight so that if you’re pursuing your Texas teacher certification, you know when you need to take your exams and how you can get assistance to ensure you don’t miss any deadlines.
TExES Content Exams
At the end of last year, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced new rules for first-year incoming teacher candidates.
Up until the new rules went into effect on Jan. 27, 2020, alternative certification programs in Texas required that students take at least one TExES content exam as a requirement upon entering a program. Once enrollees passed a content test, they submitted the results to the certification program of their choice and were then invited to enroll.
As of Jan. 27, you must enroll with an alternative teacher certification program BEFORE you take the TExES exam. In other words, you wouldn’t take the TExES exam until you have enrolled, been accepted into a program and taken the appropriate coursework.
Those rules are still intact today. You must enroll in an alternative teacher certification program like ECAP before you take the TExES exam. Which content tests you take will depend on which subject areas and grades you wish to teach.
However, there is some confusion among many applicants because earlier this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread across the United States, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott temporarily suspended certain provisions of the state’s educator certification laws. This included allowing those enrolled in an educator preparation program to begin their student teacher internships before taking their content tests.
This temporary suspension expired Oct. 1, however.
As part of the changes instituted in January 2020, the TEA made a new set of tests available to the public. Called TxPACT exams, these new tests are only to be used for program admission.
However, not everyone has to take the TxPACT exam. According to Texas Administrative Code, those who have a degree but do not meet the requirements below have to take and pass a TxPACT exam prior to being admitted into a teaching program:
A GPA below 2.5 or
The candidate has not completed 12 semester credit hours in the certification subject (15 hours in math or science in 7th grade or above)
In other words, applicants whose college transcripts do not meet the minimum GPA requirement or do not contain sufficient coursework as outlined above will need to take the TxPACT in order to qualify for a program. Those who do meet the standards above can be accepted without the TxPACT exam.
The TExES PPR, or Texas Examinations of Educator Standards Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities, is one of the most important tests you will take to qualify you to teach in the state of Texas.
The PPR, “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 Texas Education Agency. To obtain your standard certification, you must pass the PPR.
Because the content of this test revolves around the knowledge and skills you will learn through your alternative teacher certification program, you will take the PPR after your training but before applying for your intern certificate. You must also get approval from your educator preparation program (EPP) prior to registering for the exam.
When choosing an alternative teacher certification program, consider one that offers preparation for the PPR as part of its curriculum and not as an add-on.
Your Timeline Could Change
No matter how hard we all prepare and get our ducks in a row, the unexpected can happen. Timelines change, as we all discovered over the past year. Navigating when you should take what exams to earn your certification can be tricky, especially if your timeline suddenly changes.
It’s best to work with an EPP that has your best interest in mind so that you can make sure you stay on the right track and create a timeline that outlines what exams you should take and when. This process requires a lot of planning in advance, and the right program will work with you to amend your plan should circumstances change.
It’s also important to remember that being prepared for your tests is more than just about a timeline. The right certification program will prepare you for ALL aspects of taking your teacher certification exams, from familiarizing you with the style of exam questions to learning important strategies when studying.
As we mentioned above, the best alternative teaching certification program will offer exam reviews as part of the curriculum so that you will never miss out on important opportunities to prepare yourself for these required exams to the best of your ability.
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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