The hiring season is in full swing for school districts and the need for hiring teachers is high. Schools often struggle with finding quality candidates for their classrooms, and in many districts the hiring pool is limited. With the Educational Aide Exemption (EAE) program offered through the state of Texas, schools may have an untapped resource of potential teacher candidates among their currently employed educational aides in their district.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) offers an Educational Aide Exemption (EAE) program that supports educational aides in their journey to becoming full-time classroom teachers. The program is an excellent opportunity not only for educational aides but for districts who benefit from retaining these valuable employees as they train and grow into classroom teachers.
The purpose of the program is to encourage qualified educational aides to complete full teacher certification by providing needs-based exemptions including payment of tuition and certain mandatory fees as teacher candidates at public institutions of higher education. Educational aides may also qualify for exemptions from fieldwork and student teaching requirements with the program.
Educational aides interested in the EAE must be in the process of obtaining a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification to qualify. Additional requirements include:
- Texas residency
- Registration for selective service or considered exempt
- Demonstrated financial need
- Proven enrollment in eligible academic courses with a record of satisfactory academic progress
- Employment in a Texas public school district during the term when the award is received
- Experience as an educational aide in a public school in at least one of the last five years
In addition to eligibility requirements, the educational aide must be seeking teacher certification in one or more areas that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) determines to be “experiencing a critical shortage of teachers at public schools in Texas” (19 TAC, Chapter 21, Subchapter II, Rule §21.1083). These areas include:
- Bilingual/English as a Second Language
- Career and Technical Education
- Special Education (both elementary and secondary levels)
Eligible candidates must be enrolled in a public community college, public state college, or public university in Texas, must complete the financial aid process required by the institution, and must submit the EAE form to the institution’s financial aid office to be considered for the program.
Once all documentation is received and reviewed, awards are made from the institution to the candidate based on:
- Applicant eligibility
- Availability of funds
- School participation in the EAE program
Candidates who receive the award will receive additional guidance and requirements through the institution for completion of the program.
Role of HR and EAE
Recruiting and retaining excellent classroom aides is a challenge for many schools, and the EAE program is one way that districts can strengthen these efforts. Educational aides are more likely to remain on campuses and serve district needs when they know that they are supported and have opportunities to promote into higher positions.
HR administrators can create systems to identify potential candidates, communicate information to these employees, and train campus administration to support educational aides participating in the EAE program. They can also ensure that candidates have a clear path to complete their program within the district. With a combined effort to strengthen the pipeline of teacher candidates, districts will have more options in finding high quality teacher candidates for their classrooms.
For more information about EAE, school districts or aspiring candidates can contact the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board or reference 19 TAC, Chapter 21, Subchapter II for regulations and guidelines associated with the program.
Jennifer Barton is a compensation/HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Jennifer an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.