The following was included in TCTA's 2017-18 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of September 2017 but is subject to change.

The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) was created in 1995 by the Texas Legislature to regulate and oversee certification, continuing education and standards of conduct of public school educators. The SBEC comprises 15 members, 11 of whom are voting members appointed by the governor; of the four nonvoting members, one represents the Texas Education Agency, one represents the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, one is a college of education dean, and the last one is a person who has experience with an alternative certification program not affiliated with an institution of higher education. Among the 11 voting members are four public members and seven practitioners: four teachers, two administrators and one counselor.

Certificate renewal periods and CPE requirements

Teacher certificates issued after Aug. 31, 1999, are subject to a five-year certificate renewal period, with a 150-hour continuing professional education requirement that must be met through an SBEC-approved provider.

Counselor, librarian, educational diagnostician and master teacher certificates issued after Aug. 31, 1999, have a 200-hour CPE requirement for every renewal cycle.

Educators who add another class of certificate during a renewal cycle can prorate the additional CPE hours required by the new certificate for the remainder of the renewal cycle.

Certificates issued prior to Sept. 1, 1999, are exempt from these rules. Educators adding new certificate areas should be aware that while their current certificates retain the “lifetime” designation, any certificates added after Aug. 31, 1999, are renewable and subject to the continuing education requirements.

Education aides are required to be certified but are not subject to the continuing education requirements.

Note: In Districts of Innovation that claim certification exemptions, non-certified personnel are exempt from CPE and are
not subject to certificate sanctions.

Certification tests to be offered for final time in 2017-18

  • Computer Science: 8-12 (Test #141) 
  • Technology Applications: Early Childhood-Grade 12
  • (Test #142) 
  • Technology Applications: Grades 8-12 
  • Dance: Grades 8-12 

These tests will not to be offered after Aug. 31, 2017. They can be used in certification applications that are submitted and recommended by Oct. 30, 2018, with certificate requirements completed by Aug. 31, 2018.

Certification by exam

TCTA-initiated legislation allows certified teachers to become certified in another area or level simply by passing the applicable certification exam, without having to complete an educator preparation program or obtain additional college credit hours. Certification by exam is not available for teachers of students with visual impairments or for certificates other than the classroom teacher category of certificate (e.g. school counselor, learning resources/school librarian, educational diagnostician).

Teachers adding certificates via exam can register for the applicable certification exam by indicating that they are obtaining certification by examination and will not have to receive a bar code for the exam from an educator preparation program to take the exam. 

Certification exam retakes

Retakes of certification exams are limited to four times per exam unless SBEC waives the limitation for good cause. The retake limitation does not apply to candidates seeking a standard Trade and Industrial Workforce Training certificate.

Applicants for good cause waivers must pay a $160 fee and demonstrate successful completion of a specified number of educational activities hours directly related to the relevant certification exam competencies that the candidate failed to pass in the certification exam. The number of required educational activities hours increases the further away a candidate’s score is from meeting the passing standard. Candidates are required to wait progressively longer periods of time before applying for a good cause waiver with each successive unsuccessful exam attempt, up to the limit of five times total. Good cause determinations are administratively handled with appeals available to the SBEC. Waiver applications are available on the TEA website.

Disciplinary alternative education program teachers

DAEP teachers are required to be fully certified.

Applied Science/Technology/Engineering/Math (STEM) teachers

Persons seeking certification to teach applied STEM courses must pass the certification test administered by the recognized group that created the curriculum on which the STEM course is based.

Out-of-field assignments

SBEC rules require that a certified teacher assigned out of field must consent to the activation of an emergency permit and be advised of the conditions of the emergency permit. A teacher who refuses to consent to activation of an emergency permit may not be terminated or nonrenewed or otherwise retaliated against because of the teacher’s refusal to consent to the activation of the emergency permit. However, a teacher’s refusal to consent shall not impair a school district’s right to implement a necessary reduction in force or other personnel actions in accordance with local school district policy.

Maximum length of service without standard certification

Without obtaining initial, standard certification, an individual may not serve for more than three school years in the same assignment while holding a probationary certificate, emergency certificate or one-year certificate.

Out-of-state/out-of-country certification

Certain out-of-state/country certified educators may become certified in Texas without having to pass the certification exams if they passed a comparable test in their home state or country of employment. SBEC has a list of certification tests deemed comparable on the TEA website. 

An out-of-state certified educator who has submitted all required documents but has not yet performed satisfactorily on the applicable Texas certification exam(s) or an exam similar to and at least as rigorous the applicable Texas certification exam administered by his/her home state/country, has at least one full year from final SBEC review of his/her credentials to complete all Texas certification requirements.

Recent legislation allows the commissioner to adopt rules establishing exceptions to these certification exam requirements for out-of-state/out-of-country certified educators.

Failure to obtain/maintain certification or permit

Failure to obtain or maintain certification or a permit renders an employee’s contract void, unless the employee timely fulfills renewal requirements but suffers a bureaucratic delay causing the certificate/permit to lapse. Districts may terminate an employee’s contract that is void, unless the employee requests and takes necessary steps to receive an extension from SBEC to renew the certificate/permit within 10 days after the contract becomes void. For more information about contracts, click here.

Extension of certification renewal deadlines

Certification renewal deadlines can be extended in hardship situations involving catastrophic illness or injury of an educator or immediate family member. Military service members receive two additional years to complete all renewal requirements.

Criminal background checks/fingerprinting 

All applicants for certification who have not previously held a certificate issued by SBEC are required to undergo fingerprinting and a national criminal history background check prior to becoming certified. 

Additionally, any individual enrolled/planning to enroll in an educator preparation program for teacher certification or planning to take a certification exam, who has reason to believe that he/she may be ineligible for certification due to a conviction or deferred adjudication for a felony or misdemeanor offense, can ask TEA to issue a criminal history evaluation letter regarding the person’s eligibility for a teaching certificate. The fee for such a request is $50.

For more information on fingerprinting and the national criminal history background check, click here.

Virtual certificates online

Anyone holding a valid Texas public school educator certificate can view and print his/her certificate instantaneously through the secure Certificate Lookup.

The virtual certificate is the official record of an educator’s certification status, eliminating the need for school districts and individuals to keep paper copies on file. The virtual certificate satisfies the requirement of the Texas Education Code to present a certificate prior to employment with a school district. Virtual certificates are posted immediately upon approval, and a printable version is also available.

More information

If you have certification questions, call TEA’s credentialing division at 512-936-8400, option 2. 

Additional information on certification and how to become a teacher in Texas is available in the Educator Certification section of the TEA website.

See also:

Certification Exams

Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

Criminal Background Checks/Fingerprinting

Parent notice of non-certified teachers

Preparation & Certification