Writer: Jerrica DuBois
2 min read April 2022 — As the national teacher shortage looms so do concerns over a lack of accountability in the Texas educational preparation programs. While bodies in the classrooms are certainly needed, prep programs that fast track the certification of educators are coming under fire.
Texas offers several options for those coming into the teaching profession. Outside of a traditional degree from an accredited college or university, there are also online programs such as Texas Teachers of Tomorrow that will certify someone as a “teacher of record.” These programs don’t necessarily require a great deal of time in a physical classroom. There is also a lack of oversight from state regulatory agencies, which has enabled these programs to go years without being monitored for quality. The average review period is every five years, and Texas has nearly 120 programs that require monitoring.
In a recent audit conducted by the Texas Education Agencyopens PDF file , Texas Teachers of Tomorrow was found to have misleading and inaccurate information on their website, and also lacking in supporting their candidates with proper mentorship and training. The program was accredited for another seven years by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation. The program is, however, considered on probation. The audit also provided a list of recommendations and improvements, including establishing an advisory committee, updating the website for accuracy and clarity, and updating the admissions process. In order to change the probation status, all issues must be rectified by Sept. 30th.
Texas Teachers for Tomorrow is not the only teacher preparation program that has faced challenges. While some programs agreed to make the necessary changes to stay in business, there have also been four programs that have closed in the past two years.
With the ongoing teacher shortage, it would seem that the impact these programs were intended to make has also not materialized. They have however, created an avenue that allowed for more diversity in the educational system. According to a study by the University of Houston, there were three times as many African Americans in alternative teaching programs than in traditional higher education programs. The study also showed that these alternative programs are more popular among men. Of all male educators, nearly 70% of them chose alternative certification programs as opposed to a traditional college or university education.
A third option will soon be available for North Texas residents. The first paid teacher residency apprenticeships in the state will be offered beginning this fall. The School of Education at Dallas College will offer year-long residencies to its students, paying $30,000 to each participant. The goal is to model the hands-on training process of other industries, at the same time combatting the labor shortage. While the program is still gaining partners and success has yet to be determined, it represents a tangible effort to find quality, trained teachers with classroom experience to fill the empty slots in North Texas classrooms.
“School districts across Texas already rely on Dallas College and other institutions of higher education to meet their hiring needs, but this apprenticeship program will provide aspiring educators with a seamless bridge to train in a school district and then land a job in that same district,” said Dallas College Vice Provost of Education Robert DeHaas in a press release. “The apprenticeships will be an important and unique way that our School of Education continues to work closely with our local school district partners to meet their critical educator workforce needs.”