There are two things you definitely need to do if you want to be a Texas Teacher. First, get started early, because there is a lot to do. Second, get help, because it can be very confusing.
Every year, new rules for becoming a Texas teacher are adopted by the Texas State Board for Educator Certification and administered by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). These new rules and regulations affect your eligibility and the requirements you need to complete at each stage of the process.
If you procrastinate and are not prepared, you could find yourself having to wait an additional year before you can get that teaching job you have been wanting.
Let’s look at why...
In order to be hired for a teaching job, an individual must be eligible to hold an Intern Certificate. 19 TAC title 7 CH 230 D requires that ALL required content tests must be passed for an individual to be eligible for an Intern Certificate.
So, what does this mean for you? If you don’t pass your content test, you will need to reschedule and take it again until you do pass it. And, here is where it gets frustrating.
There are thousands of people signing up to take these tests, so they fill up fast! And, there are only so many content tests in each category offered. Some tests, such as English and Foreign Language, have limited administration (five times a year).
In addition, for teachers entering fields requiring multiple content tests, such as Bilingual elementary, Special Education or ESL, they will be required to pass multiple tests to become eligible for their initial certificate and hire.
Bottom line:Pass your test early!
Extra Tip: Do not enroll in a program before you pass your content test!
19 TAC title 7 CH 229 greatly restricts an individual's ability to take tests once admitted into an Educator Preparation Program (EPP). Why? Because the EPP’s accreditation is dependent on certain performance standards, including the passing rates of individuals in their program. In 2017/2018, the standard performance is those who have passed in their first two attempts.
Some programs will accept you with limited approval before you have passed your content test. This means that they expect you to pass on your first attempt, because they don’t want you to fail on the second attempt and have it go against their record. So, if you fail your first attempt, they may ask you to take another test to avoid this.
This doesn’t work in your favor.
You will have more opportunities to take a content test and take multiple content areas BEFORE entering a program than AFTER admission into a program.
With a total of 300 hours of training to complete for certification and 120 hours required before you can start teaching, it is important to get as much done as soon as possible. Unfortunately, you can’t do any training until you are enrolled in a program.
19 TAC title 7 CH 227.17 D denies an Alternative Texas Teacher Certification or Post-Baccalaureate Program the ability to offer training to an individual prior to full acceptance into the program. So, that makes passing your content test even more important. You can’t start your training until you get accepted.
Another thing to keep in mind is that once you start your internship teaching job, you are going to be very busy. So, the more training you can do before you start your job, the better off you will be.
Bottom line:Get started on your training early!
Extra Tip# 1: Look for a program that does in-person training and go to that if you can!
We offer a one-week, in-person training program during the summer, called ECAP Academy. Attendees can complete a chunk of those 120 hours before they start their job and learn from administrators and experts. This gives our interns an advantage.
Not every EPP offers in-person training, so ask before you apply to a program.
Extra Tip# 2: Check if there is a time limit to get your training done.
Some programs will charge you additional money if you haven’t completed your training within the time limit they give you and you have to restart online training modules. So, ask if there is a time limit and what the consequences are if you don’t get it done in time.
New regulations that are being passed each year are making it more difficult and lengthening the process of becoming a Texas teacher. It is important that you understand the regulations and how they impact you.
There are many programs to choose from, so it is important to do your homework before you apply. If you are considering an Alternative Certification Program, you should read our recent article, Texas Teachers, ITeach, or ECAP...Which One is Right For You?You will find suggestions on how to choose the right program.
Get started early to be sure you are a viable candidate when the hiring season gets here.
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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