Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in Texas

Texas teachers are certified by the Texas education Agency (TEA). There are four main requirements: an academic degree, a teacher preparation program, educator assessments, and background check. Bachelor’s degrees must be earned through accredited institutions.

First-time teachers must complete educator preparation programs. Those at the baccalaureate level complete university-based programs that include student teaching. Those who have already earned bachelor's degrees have more options: They may complete university-based programs or pursue other approved program options. Their programs may include traditional student teaching or may include a mentored teaching experience.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has provided a list of approved educator programs ( There are many options, corresponding with Texas certification areas. Teachers may pursue core subject certifications at the early childhood though grade six or grades four through eight level. Some candidates pursue combined middle grades language arts/ social studies or math/ science certifications. Specialized credentials are available for multiple grade bands. Art, music, and Languages Other Than English (LOTE) are among those available for all grade levels (EC-12). Journalism, speech, history, health science, and life science are among the offerings at the secondary level. Secondary teachers can hold general science or social studies credentials.

Once certified, a teacher may pursue new teaching certifications through examination. Almost all certifications can be earned in this manner. Texas offers some endorsements that do not stand alone. Teachers can, for example, pursue bilingual credentials at the appropriate grade level.

Master teacher status is among the options for experienced teachers who seek advancement. Master teachers have dual functions: to teach content and to mentor other teachers in teaching the content. A qualifying teacher can take an additional shorter program in math, reading, science, or technology and then pass the corresponding assessment. Math and science programs are offered at multiple levels.

Teaching Assessment Requirements

Texas has its own assessments, the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards (TExES). Information is available from the testing vendor, Pearson ( TExES tests are computer-delivered.

A candidate will take a Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities assessment before initial certification. Most will take Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities EC–12. This is a one-time requirement.

Permission is required to take TExES content and pedagogy tests. Out-of-state applicants who need to complete assessments will be informed which assessments they need to take. TEA has provided an assessment overview (

Several specialty certification examinations are under the banner of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. The AAFCS, too, has provided Texas-specific registration information (

Many LOTE certifications depend on passing the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages oral interview and writing proficiency assessments. Texas has its own TExES assessment for some languages. It also has its own sign communications assessments.

Degree holders who pursue alternative programs may take their content assessments as part of the admission process. Some university-based post-baccalaureate programs are designed for individuals who have already had the content. TEA has provided instructions for individuals who need to register for assessments as a pre-admission requirement (

Typically candidates take these assessments at a later stage.

Texas places some limits on retakes.

Assessments for master teacher are part of the TExMaT series, also available through Pearson.

Out-of-State Teaching Licensees

Teachers who hold standard credentials in other states can be issued one-year credentials pending completion of the Texas assessment process.

Teachers who have at least a year of full-time experience can be considered for testing exemption. They will need to have gone through an assessment process for licensure/ certification. They will need to apply for the exemption. They are directed to provide official assessment results.

Out-of-state licensees are directed to provide official transcripts and copies of all their certifications. The licensing authority can now accept certification documents online. TEA has provided application directions specifically for out-of-state educators ( Forms are available for documentation of exemption-qualifying experience and (when applicable) school accreditation. Evidence of accreditation is required for private schools and those located outside the United States.

National Board certification assessments are accepted, provided that they correspond with the teacher’s licensed testing area.

The Application Process

Prospective educators must have fingerprint-based criminal background checks ( They initiate the process after submitting their applications through the online system. They will pay the required background check. At this point, they will receive email correspondence from the approved vendor. Instate applicants will have their fingerprints made electronically. Out-of-state applicants will have a choice of submitting fingerprint cards to the approved vendor or using one of their out-of-state electronic fingerprinting sites. Applicants with questions can contact the Help Desk

Texas has an online certification system. Directions for setting up an account can be found on the TEAS website (

Individuals in alternative programs who secure internships (a paid alternative to student teaching) will work under probationary licenses.

Additional Information

Information is available from the Texas Education Agency (

Customer service can be reached at 512-936-8400. Phone options, including certification/ testing and fingerprinting are posted online (

There have been a number of changes in recent years. Certification updates are posted on the TEA website ( The website includes links to both current and proposed rules.