The End of Master Teacher Certificates

February 13, 2020 • Cheryl Hoover

The End of Master Teacher Certificates

House Bill 3 (HB 3) included a mandate that master teacher certificates will no longer be issued or renewed by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) as of September 1, 2019. Master teacher certificates already issued will be updated to include the word “legacy” as part of the certificate title.

Once a master teacher certificate has expired, it will not be eligible for renewal, and the educator that previously taught using that master teacher certificate would need to hold another certificate appropriate for placement in the assignment to continue in his or her current role.

Why the change?

A key part of HB 3 includes recruiting, supporting, and retaining highly effective teachers. The bill established the Local Optional Teacher Designation System (LOTDS) and Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA). Districts can voluntarily create a LOTDS plan that designates high-performing teachers as recognized, exemplary, or master teachers. Once approved, the designation is placed on a teacher's certificates for five years.

Labeling teachers as “master teachers” and having a master teacher certification separate from the LOTDS/TIA is confusing and likely the primary reason for eliminating this certification.

How many current teachers are affected?

There are approximately 5,000 Texas teachers holding master teacher certificates, with the majority being master reading teacher certificates. The master reading teacher certificate and the master technology teacher certificate are EC–12. The master science teacher and master math teacher certificates are grade banded: EC–4, 4–8, or 8–12.

Upon expiration of their master teacher certificate, a teacher may continue in their current assignment under their standard certificate if it is appropriate for the teaching assignment.

What can districts do?

Districts should determine which teachers are working in an assignment with the master teacher certification and note the expiration date of the certificate. Determining if the assignment can continue after the master teacher certificate has expired is important. If the teacher’s other certificate(s) are appropriate for placement in the assignment, the teacher can continue in that assignment.  

If the teacher does not have an appropriate certification as identified in 19 TAC Chapter 231, Requirements for Public School Personnel Assignments, the district has several options:

  • Move the teacher to a new assignment that matches their active certification.
  • Check the local District of Innovation (DOI) plan, if applicable, to see if an exemption for certification requirements can be used.
  • Require the teacher to obtain the needed certification by taking the appropriate exam.
  • Qualify the teacher through a school district permit, emergency certificate, temporary classroom assignment permit (TCAP), nonrenewable permit, or waiver. Refer to the HRX article: 7 Ways to Qualify an Uncertified Teacher for more details on these methods.

If a teacher is not appropriately certified for their assignment, parent notifications are required.

More information

For more information, check out the HB 3 Update – Master Teacher Update on the TEA website.


Cheryl Hoover is a HR Consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Cheryl an email at Cheryl.Hoover@tasb.org.


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Tagged: Certification, "Districts of innovation", "Educator contracts", Hiring