New initiatives could help districts fill vacancies

Since 1995, Texas law has allowed school districts to issue local teaching permits to degreed individuals who do not hold a teaching certificate subject to approval by the commissioner of education (Texas Education Code §21.055). This provision applied to any subject or class except career and technology education.
H.B. 2205, passed by the Texas Legislature in its most recent session, amended TEC §21.055 to allow school boards to issue local teaching permits to nondegreed individuals without approval by the commissioner for “noncore academic career and technical education (CTE) courses.”

What is required?

Under the new law, the superintendent must certify to the board an individual’s qualifications, including demonstrated subject matter expertise through:
  • Professional work experience
  • Formal training and education
  • Relevant industry license, certification, or registration
  • A combination of the above
The Texas Legislature also passed H.B. 2014, which states that current and former members of the military can use their military service in lieu of a CTE credential to teach a specific trade, if they obtained their experience in that trade through that service.  
The superintendent must also certify to the board that the individual has completed a criminal background check before the permit can be issued.
The teacher may begin teaching as soon as the board issues the permit. Districts must promptly provide the commissioner with a written statement from the board of trustees identifying the person, the courses taught, and qualifications. Look for an integrated form from TEA in the future to help with collection of information on any type of local teaching permits.
Once hired, the teacher is required to obtain at least 20 hours of classroom management training and comply with any other continuing education the district requires.

What courses qualify as a noncore academic CTE course?

Noncore academic CTE courses are those that do not satisfy the requirements for the Foundation High School Program in mathematics, science, language arts, or social studies. In other words, any CTE course that meets the graduation requirements for the Foundation High School Program in core subject areas does not qualify. A list of those courses is available on TEA’s website. More details can be found in the Texas Administrative Code.
Two districts have already taken advantage of this new law. Both Bloomburg ISD and Hughes Springs ISD have issued a district permit to an educational aide with no college degree but with culinary certification to teach culinary classes.

Certification fee waivers for military members

A second opportunity for attracting individuals to fill empty positions is the result of S.B. 807, also passed in the last session. On Sept. 1, the Texas Education Agency began waiving certain educator certification fees for eligible military service members, veterans, and spouses.
TEA is now waiving fees for standard, probationary, and one-year certificates; educational aide certificates; and a review of credentials.
In addition, some certification examination fees will be waived depending on the testing vendor.