Teaching Profession

Texas Ponders Easing Route To Secondary Teaching

By Michelle Galley — December 03, 2003 3 min read

Professionals from other fields who want to teach in Texas will have an easier way to get into the classroom, if a highly contested new proposal gets the approval of the state board of education in February.

The alternative-certification plan would allow anyone who has a bachelor’s degree and who passes two teacher-certification tests to teach in secondary schools. The measure cleared its first hurdle when the State Board for Educator Certification approved it by a 5-4 vote on Nov. 11. One member abstained from voting, and another was absent.

“This is a ‘die on the sword’ issue for us,” said Donna New Hashke, the president of the Texas State Teachers Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association. “We fought it all the way.”

The intent of the proposal, which the legislature originally voted down last spring, is to provide school districts with another option for filling teacher shortages, Mr. Kettler said.

If the legislature had approved the plan, the state board of educator certification would simply have implemented that law. Instead, at the urging of the governor’s office and some state legislators, the certification board passed the alternative- certification rule, which must now be approved by the state board of education.

If the state school board approves the new rule, which would apply to teachers of grades 8-12, it could go into effect as early as next April, according to Ron Kettler, the interim executive director of the certification board.

Under the new plan, once a candidate passed separate subject-matter and pedagogy exams, he or she would receive the two-year certification.

It would then be up to individual districts to provide training, mentors, and classroom-management instructions, Mr. Kettler explained. At the end of the two-year period, the district would be required to evaluate the teacher’s performance, which would determine if the teacher could apply for a long-term license.

The only measure that the state would require districts to use in evaluating alternatively certified teachers is student performance on state exams, Mr. Kettler said. Districts would be free to add other criteria to the assessments.

‘License to Lie’

Opponents of the plan point out that districts could assign teachers who received certification under the program to fields other than those in which they earned their undergraduate degrees.

And because those teachers would be certified, state law would not require districts to inform parents of their education and qualifications, said John Cole, the president of the Texas Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.

“It is a license for school districts to lie to parents, who will naturally assume that the person teaching is a real teacher,” he asserted.

Texas has 115 existing programs that cater to candidates seeking alternative certification. The programs, which are housed at universities, community colleges, and regional education centers, provide preservice training and other support services while the candidates spend a year teaching and taking courses in such topics as classroom management and lesson planning.

Last year, 14,000 people entered teaching through those 115 programs, according to Mr. Kettler.

As for the new program, Mr. Cole contended, it “is all about school districts not wanting to pay more money to compete with industry for math and science teachers.” He added that the state has more people holding teaching certificates than it has open slots for those educators.

“They need more people in the classroom, but this isn’t the way to do it, " Ms. Hashke of the Texas State Teachers Association said. “It says that teachers are not professionals—that anybody can do it.”

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Teachers Walk Off the Job at Chicago’s Urban Prep
With just two weeks left to the school year, teachers went on strike over what they say is a lack of support for special education students.
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune
3 min read
Images shows hand drawn group of protestors.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion Compassion Fatigue Is Overwhelming Educators During the Pandemic
Educators need acknowledgment and healing while dealing with their own and others' grief. Here’s what administrators can do to help.
Shayla Ewing
5 min read
Illustration of empty shirt and cloud
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Teaching Profession Is It Time to Relax Teacher Dress Codes?
After teaching at home in comfortable clothes, some school and district leaders support casual attire for teachers returning to classrooms.
4 min read
Illustration of clothes on hangers
Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion I Started Teaching During the Pandemic. Here's What I Learned
What’s it like launching a teaching career over Zoom? Kindergarten teacher Alicia Simba reflects on an unusual first year in the profession.
Alicia Simba
4 min read
Illustration of paper figures connected in a line.
JamesBrey/E+