Part II

Last week, we started the discussion about “school district teaching permits” Texas public school districts can offer in place of a Texas teaching certificate. Remember, these permits, which do not require a bachelor’s degree, are available for individuals teaching noncore academic career and technology education (CTE) courses.

Honestly, I understand a district wanting to hire CTE instructors who are experts in their field and who hold industry certification in the field they would be hired to teach. If that industry certification can be earned through an associate’s degree, I am even OK with that, if the person also has an established number of years of experience in the field on top of that degree. The part about the “school district teaching permits” that troubles me more pertains to the hours of training needed in order to be prepared to teach.

Remember from last week’s column that teachers hired under these permits are only required to undergo 20 hours of training in classroom management (provided by the district) “and other continuing education requirements determined by the board.”

Juxtapose this with what is required for a person who did not go through a traditional education program but who wants to earn a Texas teaching certificate. My first three years of retirement, I worked for a McAllen-based alternative certification company. I didn’t realize until I began working there how much was required of someone going through an alternative certification program. At the program where I worked, each teaching candidate has to follow these steps:

1. Take and pass a critical thinking test and go through a transcript review as part of the screening process.

2. Take and pass the state’s TExES exam in the content area in which he/she plans to teach. Once the candidate makes it through steps one and two, he/she is accepted into the program.

3. Complete 30 hours of field experience in an accredited Texas school, 15 of which must be interactive with students.

4. Complete at least 150 hours of alternative certification training through the alternative certification program.

5. Upon completion of steps three and four, apply for a teaching job. Once hired, work with the alternative certification company to obtain a state-issued Probationary Certificate good for one year. (A criminal background check must be completed before being hired.)

6. While working as a first-year teacher, complete 150 more hours of training, 50 provided by the school district and the other 100 provided by the alternative certification company.

7. Study for and pass the state-mandated Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) exam.

8. Get observed five times (the state requires three, but this program requires five) by the program field supervisor and have a post conference after each one.

9. Once all requirements in steps one through eight have been completed, he/she has earned state certification.

These are just a few of the questions we need to ask as we determine whether we want our local school districts to offer “school district teaching permits” in place of state certification:

1. Are all of the steps for alternative certification listed above necessary?

2. The state requires a total of 300 hours of training for those going through an alternative certification program. Here are just a few of the trainings offered: dyslexia (9 hours), English Language Learners (6 hours), Ethics (3 hours), Autism Spectrum Disorder (9 hours), Copyright and Fair Use (3 hours), Mental Health (6 hours), TExES PPR Review (6 hours), Special Ed for the General Ed Teacher (9 hours). So the question is, do you believe 300 hours of training should be required for teachers working in today’s classrooms?

3. Now look at the state training requirement for “School District Teaching Permits”—20 hours of training in classroom management. Is a total of 20 hours of training, all in classroom management, sufficient for teachers working in today’s classrooms?

4. For noncore academic CTE courses, do you think a bachelor’s degree is necessary or are you OK with industry certification and a pre-determined number of years of experience in the field?

5. Are the state’s content-area exam and PPR exam important? (Remember, they are both required to become state-certified but not required for a “School District Teaching Permit.”)

Next week, in Part III, we will discuss “School District Teaching Permits” for core courses (except special education and bilingual education).

Right now, where do you stand?

Chris Ardis retired in May of 2013 following a 29-year teaching career. She now helps companies with business communications and social media and works as a sales coordinator for Tony Roma's and Macaroni Grill. Chris can be reached at cardis1022@aol.com.