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Teacher Quality Issues
Texas Legislation

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Texas Legislation

Because the certification process is a function of state government, teacher quality and certification requirements vary from state to state. Texas certifies teachers through both traditional and alternative preparation programs, and requires that all educators pass an appropriate examination to demonstrate professional knowledge.

Created in 1995 under the provisions of Senate Bill 1, the Texas State Board for Educator Certification was given the responsibility of administering educator certificates and accrediting educator preparation programs. Certificates issued on or after September 1, 1999 will no longer be issued on a "lifetime" basis, but must be renewed every five years under the condition that the educator completed 150 hours of Professional development.

To be eligible for a teaching certificate in the State of Texas, all potential educators must complete an approved teacher education program or alternative certification program and pass the appropriate state test. Current teachers have demonstrated professional competence by passing the ExCET examination. Because certification requirements have recently changed, beginning in the fall of 2003 potential teacher candidates will be required to pass the TexES examination in the field in which they intend to teach.

Educators holding certificates issued in states other than Texas must pass the appropriate certification test before they will be issued a Texas teaching certificate. Texas teachers holding a valid certificate in one field may add certification in another area by passing the appropriate examination. Uncertified teachers may be placed in classrooms when a certified teacher is not available. In the event that an uncertified teacher is placed in the classroom, parents must receive notification of the placement within 30 days of the assignment.

Currently, teaching certificates are issued at four basic levels: Early Childhood, 4-8, 8-12, and All-Level. Educators holding the EC-4 certification are generalists prepared to teach all content areas. Middle grades (4-8) educators are certified as generalists or as specialists in Math, Science, Reading/Language Arts or Social Studies. Secondary educators (8-12) are certified in a single academic discipline. All level (EC-12) certificates are available for Art, Music, Drama, Physical Education, Special Education, School Librarian, and Educational Diagnostician. Bilingual and ESL certification is available in early childhood (EC-4) and middle grades (4-8).

Teachers employed in the Texas public school system are bound to the standards outlined in the Texas Education Code. Teaching contracts are generally issued for 10-month periods (187 days) and are renewed yearly. Salaries are standardized and based on years of experience and level of education. The state guarantees a minimum teaching salary, and many districts supplement teacher salaries with local funds. All teachers are allowed a minimum of 45 minutes for instructional planning per day, as well as 30 minutes for a duty-free lunch.

Teachers are assessed at least once yearly through the Professional Development Appraisal System (PDAS) . All appraisals must be completed by a supervisor, and may be arranged prior to the observation. A conference following the written evaluation is required, and a second summative conference is required at the end of the contract year. For the summative conference, teachers must submit the Self-Report to document their own instructional practices as well as documentation of professional development. Evaluators may consider any other information gathered through "walk-through" observations or other methods when documenting the summative evaluation.

Currently, the Education Committee of the 78th Legislative Session is considering radically altering the structure of teacher certification and the provisions provided by the Texas Education Code. A few of the bills currently proposed include:

  • HB 318, Grusendorf
    allows any individual with a Bachelor's degree to receive alternative teaching certification upon passing the appropriate certification examination - without student teaching experience or specific training in multicultural education, special education, and pedagogy required in both traditional and alternative teacher training programs.
  • HB 557, Grusendorf
    limits the required 45-minute planning time to full time teachers - not guaranteeing any planning time for teachers on contracts for less than 40 hours per week.
  • HB 762, Grusendorf
    permits school districts with an average classroom teacher salary higher than the national average to be exempted from laws pertaining to minimum teaching salary.
  • HB 2723, Gutierrez
    allows any individual with an advanced degree in an academic area other than education to obtain a teaching certificate - without passing a certification examination or receiving training in multicultural issues, special education, or pedagogy.
It is important to note that Special Education and Bilingual Education have been identified as areas that consistently have teacher shortages, and urban schools with large percentages of minority students frequently have greater shortages and more turnover than their suburban counterparts. Minority students are frequently over-identified for special education services as well, creating a system where minority students are frequently assigned to uncertified or less experienced teachers. New legislation that allows individuals with degrees in content areas to become alternatively certified without training in multicultural and special education issues will increase the pool of certified teachers on paper, but is unlikely to generate more teachers that are equipped to deal with the special needs of minority and bilingual students.

For more information on Texas teacher certification and shortage issues, see the following links:

Texas Federation of Teachers Legislative Hotline Archives
Contains Legislative Alerts related to teacher quality, teacher shortages, and certification issues.

Texas Public Policy Foundation
This summary discusses the reality of teacher retention, shortage areas, and salary in Texas.

Solving the Teacher Shortage in Texas
This article offers suggestions for addressing teacher shortages.

Texas Teacher Recruitment and Retention Study
A study by the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, State Board for Educator Certification, Region XX Education Service Center, and Texas Center for Educational Research that provides suggestions for improving teacher retention and recruiting new teachers into the profession.

Texas Quality of Teaching Data
This Education Week summary provides on overview of data related to teacher quality in Texas. Texas receives an overall grade of "C-" for efforts related to teacher quality.

Questions? Brenda Wheat wheatbm@hotmail.com