Teacher Certification: Part 6—Exceptions and Waivers

May 10, 2021 • Cheryl Hoover

Teacher Certification: Part 6—Exceptions and Waivers

Districts have two types of waivers available to hire an individual who doesn’t meet permit or certification criteria: the teacher certification waiver and the bilingual exception and English as a Second Language (ESL) waiver.

Certification waiver

A certification waiver allows a district to employ a person who doesn’t meet temporary classroom assignment permit, emergency permit, or school district teaching permit requirements to teach without the necessary certification requirements.

The certification waiver may be issued to allow:

  • A person to teach without the necessary certification requirements
  • Qualified individuals to teach outside their areas of certification in Career and Technical Education
  • Qualified individuals to teach outside their areas of certification in a subject or course for which no state assessment has been developed
  • Qualified individuals to teach outside their areas of certification in alternative education
  • Qualified individuals to teach Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp classes outside their areas of certification
  • An individual to serve as superintendent without the necessary certification requirements

A certification waiver is a general state waiver coordinated by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) State Waivers Unit. A certification waiver is only valid in the approved district for a term of one to three years, maximum.

The waiver application must include the following information:

Bilingual exception and ESL waiver

A district can file a bilingual exception when it’s not able to provide a certified bilingual teacher to implement its bilingual program. TEA provides a bilingual education exception scenario flowchart to help district leaders identify bilingual program and teacher certification requirements. The bilingual exception allows the district to offer an alternative language program such as ESL in place of the bilingual program (Title 19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §89.1207(a)).

When a district is unable to provide an appropriately certified teacher to implement its ESL program, it can file a waiver that allows the district to forego the certification requirements for teachers who will provide ESL instruction and offer an alternative language program according to 19 TAC §89.1207(b). The ESL waiver scenario flowchart on the TEA website helps districts navigate ESL program and teacher certification requirements .

The bilingual exception and ESL waiver is made through the online waiver application system. A district’s bilingual/ESL contact may complete the application, but the superintendent must review and approve the application. The deadline for applying for a waiver is November 1, and it is valid during the school year for which it is granted.

The request for a bilingual exception and ESL waiver must include the following:

  • A statement of the reason the school district is unable to provide a sufficient number of appropriately certified teachers to offer the program
  • A description of the alternative language program and methods to meet the affective, linguistic, and cognitive needs of the English learners
  • An assurance that certified teachers will be assigned to grade levels beginning at prekindergarten followed successively by subsequent grade levels
  • An assurance the school district will implement a comprehensive professional development plan
  • An assurance that 10 percent of the total bilingual allotment will be used to fund the plan
  • An assurance the required program will be provided the following year, including plans for recruitment
  • An assurance the school district shall satisfy the additional reporting requirements described in 19 TAC §89.1265(c)

Viable options

The certification waiver and bilingual exception and ESL waiver provide viable options for school districts struggling to secure certified teachers for general education and bilingual or ESL assignments. While the processes may be tedious, the benefit is providing an avenue for qualified individuals to teach in a Texas classroom and support student learning. Questions may be directed to the TEA waiver unit at 512.463.9630 or waivers@tea.texas.gov.


Cheryl Hoover is an HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Cheryl an email at cheryl.hoover@tasb.org.


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Tagged: Certification, Employment, Hiring, "Teacher certification"