After adopting significant rule changes increasing the certification requirements for teachers in bilingual or English as a Second Language programs, TEA’s Division of English Learner Support recently issued a statement to clear up some common misconceptions in the field regarding the requirements. TCTA received calls from many content-area members who are being required by their school districts to obtain ESL certification immediately in order to meet the new rule requirements. (Click here to read more.) 

Key among the clarifications issued by TEA was this: “If an LEA chooses to implement an ESL pull-out program model, there are multiple ways to do so, including options to coordinate services between an ESL-certified teacher and the ELAR teacher of English learners; therefore, the blanket statement that all ELAR teachers need to obtain ESL certification is not accurate.”

Further points of clarification from TEA are as follows:

  • The revised ESL certification requirements only apply to those teachers who are serving English learners through one of the state-approved ESL program models, not to all teachers.
  • LEAs have the option of electing to provide ESL services through either ESL pull-out (requiring ELAR instruction delivered by a teacher certified for that grade level in ELAR and ESL) or through ESL content-based (requiring English learners to receive all content instruction by teachers certified at that grade level/content area and in ESL). Each is allowable under statute.
  • LEAs may choose to implement a content-based ESL program model, which does require all content teachers of English learners to be ESL-certified, but this is just one of the two allowable options. Therefore, the blanket statement that the TEA is requiring all content teachers serving English learners to be ESL certified is not accurate.
  • If an LEA chooses to implement an ESL pull-out program model, there are multiple ways to do so, including options to coordinate services between an ESL-certified teacher and the ELAR teacher of English learners; therefore, the blanket statement that all ELAR teachers need to obtain ESL certification is not accurate.
  • Although sheltered instruction is no longer sufficient in fulfilling statutory requirements for serving English learners through ESL at the high school level, it continues to serve as a valuable component of effective ESL programming, not just at high school, but at all grade levels.
  • The English Learner Support Division has provided guidance documents to support districts in calculating potential staffing needs and associated certification requirements, which can be found here: http://elltx.org/assessment.html.

Regarding the waiving of ESL certification testing fees, the Texas Education Agency does not have the authority to do so. However, the English Learner Support Division is working with TEA legal and fiscal monitoring staff to provide detailed guidance for the allowable use of bilingual education allotment funds for this and related purposes. This guidance will be posted to the TEA Bilingual/ESL web page.