Texas Teacher Certification
So you want to be a teacher in Texas, but you don’t exactly know where to start.
Getting your Texas teacher certification is pretty simple – once you know what you’re doing.
This website will help you understand exactly how to become a certified teacher in Texas.
Before you can be hired as a teacher*, you need to complete these three steps (not necessarily in this order):
The Three Step Process
- Graduate from an accredited college
- Pass your content test
- Enroll in a certification program (just enroll, not complete)
Once you complete these three steps, you can be hired to teach in Texas and start cashing those paychecks!
First, we’ll take an in-depth look at each of those three steps so you know exactly what to do and how to do it.
Then we’ll look at how to apply for a teaching position.
Finally, there’s an FAQ section, which can help answer specific questions YOU have about becoming a certified teacher in Texas.
*Schools can hire whomever they want, but typically they hire only teachers who have completed these three steps.
Your Ultimate Guide to a Texas Teaching Certificate
Graduating from an Accredited College
First, you must graduate from an accredited college.
You can graduate with a degree in education (and get certified to teach through the university).
You can simply graduate with a degree and become certified through an alternative certification program.
NOTE: If you’re almost done with your degree, but it’s not in education, save your money! Finish your degree, graduate, and then go through an alternative certification program.
To recap – you must graduate from an accredited university. You can graduate with a degree in education (and use a university program to get certified) or you can take your degree- any degree- and enroll in an alternative certification program.
Key Point: If you want to enroll in an alternative certification program, you need a GPA of 2.5 or higher, either overall or in your last 60 hours.
If you’re unsure if your college is accredited, check here: College Accreditation List
If you’re unsure of your GPA in the last 60 hours, check here: http://gpacalculator.net/college-gpa-calculator/
Taking the Content Test
Typically, the next step is taking your content test. You can take the content test when:
- You’re enrolled in your certification program. You need permission from your certification program to do this.
- You’re a college graduate but haven’t enrolled in a certification program. If you want to go through an alternative certification program, it’s great to take your content test before you enroll.
- After you become a certified teacher.
If you’re already enrolled in a certification program, you need to contact them to explore your testing options.
If you’re already certified to teach, you can take any content test, whenever you want.
Pre-Admission Content Test
If you have graduated from college and want to teach, but have not enrolled in a certification program, you can take a content test ASAP.
To take a content test before enrolling in a certification program you must take the Pre-Admission Content Test (PACT).
Now, the PACT test can be a little confusing.
The PACT test simply allows you to take the content test “pre-admission”, or before being enrolled, in a certification program.
If you take a PACT test, you’re still taking the exact same exam as everybody else, you’re just taking it as a Pre-Admission Content Test Taker- meaning you’re taking it before you’re enrolled in a certification exam.
You see, once you’re enrolled in a certification program you need permission to take the test.
But the Pre-Admission Content Test allows you to take your content test before enrolling in a certification program.
The TExES Exam
The Texas Examination of Educator Standards (TExES) is the exam series for teachers in the state of Texas. The TExES is an individual test, but refers to all the content tests offered by the state of Texas.
All of the tests in the TExES program contain multiple-choice questions. Some tests also have additional types of questions (e.g., open-ended written or oral responses). For more information about individual tests and test composition, see the Preparation Manual for each test.
NOTE: “Content Test” refers to the specific test you must take to teach a specific subject in Texas. Every teacher in the state of Texas must take a test demonstrating they understand the content they will teach – called a “content test”. The TExES is just the umbrella term that refers to all the individual content tests.
Think of the TExES exam like the automobile company Ford. People say, “I drive a Ford”- but they mean they drive a car made by Ford. When someone tells you that you must pass the TExES, they mean you must pass the appropriate Texas Examination of Educator Standards content test for what you will be teaching.
Choosing a Certification Program
You will typically enroll in a certification program either:
- As a freshman or sophomore in college, and go through the certification program of the university you attend.
- After graduating college.
The first option is the “traditional” route for teacher certification. You go to college, you get your degree in education while completing a student teaching and content test. When you graduate from college, you have your teacher certification.
The second option is becoming much more common.
It’s called the “Alternative” route, because you must complete an alternative certification program.
Traditional v. Alternative Certification
There are pros and cons to each method.
You should choose the program that is best for you.
If you are beginning your college education and know you want to be a teacher, the traditional option is a good option.
If you have already graduated college, or will soon graduate college, and you want to become a teacher (perhaps as a second career), then the alternative route is probably the best option.
Choosing a certification program
Choosing an alternative certification program can be intimidating. There are a few key factors to consider:
- Is the program approved and in good standing with the Texas Education Agency (TEA)?
- Is the program online, in-person, or both?
- What is the cost of the program?
- Do I feel comfortable with this program?
- Is the program in good standing with the Texas Education Agency (TEA)?
Most programs should be, and it is very easy to check. Simply look at this webpage for a list of approved certification programs in Texas and their approval status with the state.
Is the program online, in-person, or both?
There are a lot of alternative certification programs in Texas. Some are completely online, some are completely in-person, and many programs are a mixture of both.
Choosing one over the other is a matter of what fits you best. Do you prefer in-person communication? Or do you want the freedom and convenience of completely online program?
Whichever you choose, make sure you find a program that fits your learning style and needs.
What is the cost of the program?
This can vary a lot. Some programs, like those offered by universities, can be very expensive. Other alternative certification programs can cost as little as $4,200 or less.
If a program is approved by the TEA (see above), then they should be able to provide you the service of certifying you to teach in Texas. So, price is a big consideration.
Do I feel comfortable with this program?
This is a big one. Choose a certification program that you feel comfortable with and will meet your needs- both with time commitment and learning styles.
Don’t hesitate to call a few different certification programs and talk with their representatives. Typically, the best programs are the ones that can answer your questions quickly, simply, and provide clear next steps to help you become a certified Texas teacher.
Check out 240Tutoring’s list of the 7 best alternative certification programs in Texas.
Frequently Asked Questions
When can I get hired to teach?
This question is not as simple as it seems.
In all honesty, any school can hire any person they want at any time they want.
But, if schools do not hire a properly qualified teacher, the school can get in big trouble if the teacher does a bad job.
So, to protect themselves, schools typically require two things before they hire a teacher:
1- Pass the appropriate content test
2- Enroll in a certification program
Once you have those two criteria met, then you have a good chance of being hired.
What do I have to do before I’m hired to teach?
Before you’re hired to teach, you should pass your content test and enroll in a certification program.
BUT- the more work you can complete in your certification program, the better.
The first year of teaching is INCREDIBLY hard and your certification program can help you prepare for some of the challenges.
When do I take my certification exam?
If you want to be a certified teacher, you should take your content test ASAP. The sooner you take your exam, the better.
What certification exam do I take?
We recommend looking at our TExES page to find which certification exam you should take. There is a table of the common areas of teaching and which exams you need to pass to be hired to teach those areas.
I’ve heard a lot of new words when trying to become certified – what do they mean?
There are so many new terms to learn as a new teacher. Take a look at this glossary – it has most terms for teacher certification in Texas.
Important Terms to Know
Alternative certification program – An approved educator preparatory program specially designed to certify individuals that hold at least a baccalaureate degree.
ASEP form – A procedural form used by SBEC to transfer a teaching candidate from one program to another. The new program, old program and teaching candidate must fill out the form before it is submitted to SBEC.
Content test – Are designed to measure a teaching candidates knowledge regarding a given subject area. The purpose of the content exam is to ensure that each educator has the prerequisite content and professional knowledge necessary for an entry level teaching position in the state of Texas.
Contingency admission – Contingency admission is available only if the applicant is currently completing their last semester of coursework towards a Bachelor’s degree. The contingency admission will be valid for only the semester it was granted and cannot be extended for another semester.
Field supervisor – A certified educator hired by an alternative certification program to observe interns, monitor his or her performance and provide constructive feedback to improve his or her professional performance.
Head start program – Provides comprehensive child development services to economically disadvantaged children and families. The program is tailored to serve children from birth to three years of age.
Initial certification – Applies to a teaching candidate that is not a certified teacher through the state of Texas.
Intern – A teaching candidate completing their one-year teaching internship while enrolled in WCACP. A probationary certificate is usually started within one month of the teaching assignment.
Internship – A one-year teaching assignment at a school district, accredited private school or charter school that may lead to the recommendation of a standard certificate.
Late hire – A teaching candidate that has not been accepted into WCACP before June 15 and who is hired for a one-year teaching internship by a school after June 15 or after the school’s academic year has begun.
Cooperating teacher – The certified classroom teacher in which you are assigned. The cooperating teacher provides feedback and support to the clinical teacher. The supportive / formative role between the cooperating teacher and clinical teacher is crucial to their success during the clinical teaching assignment.
Observation hours – Encompasses a wide variety of experiences that help teaching candidates become classroom ready. This may include, but not limited to substitute teaching, tutoring, aide experience or observation time with a certified teacher in the classroom. Interaction with neighboring teachers and administrators in the building is encouraged by SBEC/TEA.
Service record – Documented history of an applicant’s activities and accomplishments while serving as an educator. A service record is usually requested from the human resources office.
Statement of Eligibility – The form verifies the teaching candidate is enrolled in WCACP and lists the highly qualified certification areas (either passed TExES content exam or qualify for 24/12 status). The statement of eligibility is used to start your probationary certificate and is returned once the form is filled out by a campus administrator.
Teacher of record – An intern that is employed by a school district, accredited private school or charter school that teaches the majority of the instructional day in their content area. The teacher of record must be responsible for evaluating student achievement and assigning grades.
Teaching candidate – A participant enrolled in WCACP that is seeking certification.
Test of English as a foreign language (TOEFL) – A test that measures your ability to communicate in English – components include reading, listening and writing in English.
24/12 Exception – The 24/12 exception allows a teaching candidate to possess a highly qualified status before they pass their TExES content exam. The candidate must have at least 12 lower level and 12 upper level semester hours in a specific content area. The 12 upper level hours refers to junior or senior credit hours. The 24/12 exception only applies to grades 7-12.