General Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should require teacher preparation programs to admit only candidates with strong academic records and support programs to encourage greater numbers of qualified individuals of color to become teachers. This goal was ungraded in 2020.
GPA/Testing Requirement: Texas requires a cohort average GPA of 3.0 at the program level. Individual candidates must obtain a GPA of 2.5 from the most recent degree conferred or in the last 60 semester credit hours. Candidates can be exempt from the minimum GPA requirement if they provide documentation that a candidate's work, business, or career experience demonstrates achievement equivalent to the academic achievement represented by the GPA requirement. Candidates admitted under the work exception must pass a subject matter exam "for each subject in which the applicant seeks certification" prior to admission. The work exception may not be used by a program to admit more than 10% of any cohort of candidates.
Texas requires that its education preparation programs admit only candidates who demonstrate basic skills through one of several options, including passing a test normed to the general college-going population. Applicants can also meet this requirement through other means, including obtaining an associate degree or a bachelor's degree, enrollment in a certification program, or serving as a member of the armed forces.
Diversity Programs: Texas supports Grow Your Own programs throughout the state by facilitating a competitive grant designed to increase entry of qualified, diverse candidates into the teaching profession, particularly in rural and small school settings. This grant offers three different pathways to entry, all with an emphasis on increasing the pool and diversity of Texas' classroom teachers.
Texas Education Code 21.0441 Texas Administrative Code Title 19 Part 7 Rule 227.10 Texas Administrative Code Title 19 Part 1, Chapter 4, Subchapter C Grow Your Own https://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Educator_Initiatives/Grow_Your_Own
Require that teacher preparation programs screen candidates for academic proficiency prior to admission using rigorous criteria.
Teacher preparation programs that do not screen candidates invest considerable resources in individuals who may not be able to successfully complete the program, pass licensing tests, and ultimately succeed in the classroom. Candidates in need of additional support should complete remediation before entering the program to avoid the possibility of an unsuccessful investment of significant public resources. Texas should continue to require that candidates pass a test of academic proficiency that assesses reading, mathematics, and writing prior to program admission, but should eliminate loopholes that are not a sufficient assessment of academic aptitude, such as enrollment in a certification program. Alternatively, the state could require a minimum grade point average of at least 3.0 for individuals or 3.2 for cohorts of accepted candidates in order to establish that prospective teachers have a strong academic history.
Consider requiring candidates to pass subject-matter tests as a condition of admission into teacher programs.
In addition to ensuring that programs require a measure of academic performance for admission, Texas may also consider requiring subject-matter testing prior to program admission, rather than at the point of program completion. Doing so would provide candidates lacking sufficient subject-matter expertise with an opportunity to remedy deficits prior to entering formal preparation.
Texas was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts necessary for this analysis. Additionally, Texas noted that the State Board for Educator Certification recently amended the admission rules for educator preparation programs to no longer allow the current content certification exams, which included both content and content pedagogy, to be used as an admission requirement as a pre-admission content test (PACT). The state indicated that the PACT change would impact candidates in alternative certification or post-baccalaureate programs by not requiring them to take a content pedagogy exam prior to admission into an educator preparation program. Every time a candidate takes one of these tests for admission purposes, it counts against the five-time limit and a test fee is assessed for each retake. A candidate would now only take an additional exam if the educator preparation program requires it or if a candidate did not meet minimum requirements for GPA or semester credit hours in the subject-specific content area for the certification sought. According to the state, this change would only adjust the timing and support for candidates and would not change the requirement that a candidate passes the content pedagogy assessment before becoming the teacher of record. By providing support for candidates prior to exam passage and not allowing the certification exam itself to serve as a screening exam, diverse candidates would be better supported in pursuing certification.
Evidence is strong that countries whose students consistently outperform U.S. students set a much higher bar for entry to teacher preparation programs than what is typically found in the United States. Far from the top third or even top tenth to which more selective countries limit candidates, most states do not even aim for the top 50 percent. Previous analysis has shown that many states do not require that preparation programs evaluate candidates' academic proficiency as a condition of admission to teacher preparation at all; most others set a low bar by requiring basic skills tests that generally assess middle school-level skills or by requiring a minimum GPA, but too few demand at least a 3.0.
In addition to the low skill level tested by current basic skills tests (e.g., the Praxis Core), another concern is that they are normed only to the prospective teacher population, which does not allow for comparability between prospective teachers and the entire college-bound population. Tests normed to the general college-bound population would shine a clearer light on the academic proficiency of those admitted to teacher preparation programs and allow programs to be truly selective.
While a positive start, CAEP standards are no substitute for states' own policies. CAEP's standards require that the group average performance on nationally normed ability assessments such as ACT, SAT, or GRE be in the top 50th percentile. However, CAEP allows programs the unnecessary freedom to determine whether the minimum criteria will be measured prior to admissions or at some point during the program. Clear state admission policies would send an unequivocal message to programs about the state's expectations for high admissions standards.
Research is clear about the positive effects of teachers with stronger academic backgrounds on student achievement. Higher teacher selectivity, as measured by factors such as SAT/ACT scores, GPA prior to program admission, and an institute of higher education's (IHE) general competitiveness or selectivity, has a significant, positive correlation with student achievement. Some studies support higher academic admissions standards for entry into TPPs, including studies showing a relationship between student achievement and teachers' verbal ability or selectivity of the teachers' college. Although research supports applying greater selectivity when admitting teacher candidates, some recent work has found no correlation between teachers' scores on tests normed to the general college-bound population (e.g., SAT, ACT) or IHE selectivity and student achievement.
States should support increased diversity in the teacher pipeline, in addition to maintaining high admissions standards for teacher preparation programs. Recent data show that 49 percent of students in the US were students of color, while only 17 percent of teachers were teachers of color. Twenty-eight states had gaps between the percentage of students and educators of color that were greater than 25 percentage points. A growing body of research suggests that students of color—students who often face the largest achievement gaps—benefit from having same-race teachers. Exposure to same-race teachers positively benefits student achievement, teachers' expectations and perceptions of students, teachers' assessments and perceptions of student behavior, students' rates of suspension and expulsion, students' assignment to Gifted and Talented programs, and students' perceptions of teachers. Some research suggests that teachers of the same race as their students are more likely to reduce high-school dropout rates as well as increase student attendance and college attendance intent, and improve discipline. Moreover, white students report that they favor teachers of color.