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Special Education HOUSSE Options

Female teacher in a classroom

The High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE) is a method used to determine a special education teacher’s subject matter competency.

HOUSSE options were formerly used for establishing highly qualified (HQ) status for Texas teachers, but beginning with the 2016–2017 school year, teachers only needed to meet state requirements for certification. However, the HOUSSE option continues to be used for establishing a special education teacher’s competency.

According to Title 19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §231.701 and the Teacher Assignment Chart, a special education teacher who delivers direct instruction to students with disabilities in core academic subject areas must have a valid certificate that matches the subject and grade level of the assignment or must demonstrate competency using the state’s 2010 and 2011 HOUSSE for elementary and secondary special education teachers based on the level of instruction provided by a teacher.

Core Academic Subject Areas

The following list defines core academic subject areas for Texas:

  • English, reading, or language arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Foreign languages (language other than English)
  • Civics and government
  • Economics
  • Arts (includes theater arts, dance, music, art, and other fine arts courses identified by the State Board of Education (SBOE))
  • History
  • Geography

Elementary HOUSSE

To qualify for the elementary HOUSSE option the special education teacher must have at least one year of creditable teaching experience and have a minimum of 24 points derived from the following:

  • Elementary teaching experience [one point per year for a maximum of 12 points]
  • College coursework in English/language arts, math, science, and social studies [one college hour = one point]
  • Professional development that meets continuing professional education (CPE) credit [15 CPE clock hours = one point]
  • Representation of English/language arts, math, science, and social studies in the 24 points

Secondary Special Education HOUSSE

A secondary special education HOUSSE option is available to determine subject matter competency and requires a teacher have one creditable year of teaching experience in the subject to be taught or a closely related field. Additionally, 24 points must be documented from the following:

  • Meet the standards for elementary HQ [nine points for competency in reading/language arts, math, science, or social studies]; or
  • Pass an appropriate Texas Examination of Educator Standards (TExES) certification exam (EC-12 Special Education for competency in reading/language arts or math; 4-8 Generalist for competency in reading/language arts, math, science, or social studies; 4-8 content specific exam for content area only) [12 points for competency in the appropriate content area]


  • Have teaching experience in the core academic subject area or closely related field at the secondary level [one year = one point]; and/or
  • Have college coursework in the core academic subject area or a closely related field [one college hour = one point]; and/or
  • Have professional development in the core academic subject area or a closely related field that meets standards for CPE credit [15 CPE clock hours = one point]

If using the elementary HOUSSE option for documenting the nine points for meeting elementary HQ, the teacher may not count the same college coursework or professional development for meeting elementary HOUSSE or secondary special education HOUSSE. The same rule applies to counting elementary teaching experience. The teacher may only count a maximum of 12 years of teacher experience in combination under this HOUSSE option. Up to six points may be awarded for college coursework or CPE credit for special education strategies and modifications.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) defines academic fields that are closely related for determining a secondary teacher’s status under HOUSSE. The list below is not exhaustive, and school districts may consider additional fields but must maintain documentation to support the determination. Additionally, one foreign language is not closely related to another foreign language.


Flexibility is provided to secondary teachers who instruct students assessed on alternate achievement standards. If the instruction provided is on a PreK through grade 5 level the teacher may meet the HQ requirements previously used for a general education elementary teacher.

An HQ general elementary teacher must have:

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • Full state certification
  • Demonstrated competency in the core academic subject area assigned (competency is demonstrated by passing the applicable state certification exam or meeting the elementary HOUSSE option)


Special education teachers often have multiple academic assignments. It is important to note other certification options providing flexibility for general education teaching assignments aren’t available for special education, such as a district’s District of Innovation (DOI) plan or a school district teaching permit (SDTP), making qualifying a special education teacher even more challenging. HOUSSE provides an avenue for determining subject matter competency in lieu of a teacher taking multiple certification tests.

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Karen Dooley
Karen Dooley
HR Services Assistant Director

Karen Dooley joined HR Services in 2016. She provides oversight to a team of consultants providing staffing services, HR reviews, and other projects. She provides training and assists school districts with their HR-related needs. Dooley is a seasoned administrator with more than 17 years of HR experience in Central Texas districts as a coordinator, director, and assistant superintendent. She also worked as an assistant principal, counselor, and teacher, and holds a superintendent certificate.

Dooley received her master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University and her bachelor’s degree from Texas State University.

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