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Qualifying an Uncertified Assistant Principal

The exterior of a school.

School districts are experiencing staffing shortages for all positions, and many are searching for options to fill assistant principal vacancies.

Pathway to Certification

As of 2019, the only standard certificate available for individuals seeking to be an assistant principal or principal is the Principal as Instructional Leader. Chapter 230 of Texas Administrative Code outlines the requirements for professional educator preparation and certification. The minimum requirement to be enrolled in an educator preparation program (EPP) to become certified as a Principal as Instructional Leader is a bachelor’s degree issued by an accredited university. However, most EPPs for principal certification have additional, rigorous requirements to be admitted into the program.

To obtain a Principal as Instructional Leader certificate, an individual must complete the following requirements:

  • Hold a master’s degree from a university accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB)
  • Hold a valid Texas classroom teaching certificate
  • Have two years of creditable teaching experience as a classroom teacher
  • Successfully complete an approved principal EPP
  • Successfully complete the required exams (Texas Examination of Educator Standards (TExES) 268 – Principal as Instructional Leader, and Educational Testing Service (ETS) 368 – Performance Assessment for School Leaders (PASL))

Alternative Options

A school district may explore two alternative pathways to qualify an uncertified assistant principal. The first is for the individual to obtain an intern or probationary certificate after meeting certain EPP requirements. The second pathway is for a school district to file a certification waiver through the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for an individual in an EPP who not yet passed the appropriate certification exams.

Intern or Probationary Certificate

Once a candidate is enrolled in an EPP, program requirements will dictate the classes, amount of college hours, and other criteria to be met before allowing an individual to take the certification exam. Candidates must pass the required TExES exam and be recommended by the program to obtain an intern or probationary certificate. Once an individual is issued either an intern or probationary certificate, a school district may employ the individual in the role of assistant principal.

Certification Waiver

If an individual is in an EPP but has not taken and passed certification exams, the district may be able to request a certification waiver. Due to the shortage of qualified staff in this area, the commissioner is currently considering and approving certification waivers for the Principal as Instructional Leader certificate. Districts will need to follow the process for seeking a certification waiver as dictated by TEA. The state waiver application will require board approval and must include the date the board acted on the waiver request.

Additionally, the school district should work directly with the individual’s EPP to ensure this action does not negatively impact their program status.


Districts who need to hire uncertified individuals as assistant principals do have options. Districts can work with EPPs or TEA to help these individuals obtain the necessary credentials to fill the role of assistant principal. In times of staffing shortages and recruiting difficulties, districts may have some flexibility in securing an assistant principal for their schools even if they have not completed all certification requirements.

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Jennifer Barton
Jennifer Barton
Senior HR and Compensation Consultant

Jennifer Barton joined HR Services in 2018. She assists with compensation planning and development, staffing reviews, training, and other HR projects. Prior to joining TASB, Barton served for 19 years in Texas public schools as a principal, assistant principal, teacher, and coach.

Barton earned master’s degrees in education and educational leadership from The University of Texas at Austin and Lamar University. She holds a Texas superintendent certificate and is a SHRM-CP.

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