Certification Requirements for Charter School Teachers

Certification Requirements for Charter School Teachers

January 28 | Personnel Management

In many ways, ISDs and Charter schools share common requirements and compliance items. However, in just as many ways, requirements between the two entity types differ.

The realm of teacher certifications brings one of these differences to the forefront.

Are teachers at open-enrollment charter schools required to hold a certification?

The short answer is, it depends. Diving deeper into the “it depends,” we must consider:

  • what student population the teacher is working with (what classes he or she teaches), and
  • what the actual charter agreement with TEA and local policy outlines in response to this question.

Here’s what the law says: Teachers at an open-enrollment charter school must have at least a baccalaureate degree unless they are a special education or bilingual education/ESL teacher, in which case these teachers must also have the appropriate state certification.

As with almost anything in the school world, the law is a minimum requirement. The charter can enforce more strict requirements.  Specifically, the governing body of a charter holder may set the qualifications for teachers at a standard above what state law requires.

So, all that is to say that the only way to answer this question with 100% surety would be to review your charter agreement with TEA and applicable board-approved policy that relates to this subject. Many charters in Texas do require teacher certification requirements that align with the teacher certification requirements in the ISD, while others require their teachers to be certified only for those teaching core subjects, whilst many others match the minimum state requirement.

How to Verify an Educator’s Certification

Using the Educator Certification Online System (ECOS) application in TEAL has proven to be a trusted and reliable way to verify an educator’s certifications.  While this is not a required method of verification, we recommend this method of verification for several reasons. First, it gives you the ability to obtain a certifiable copy of the educator’s SBEC certification. Furthermore, verifying the certification through ECOS is more accurate than a name-based certificate lookup, as many educators may share the same name or have experienced a name-change. Next, reviewing the record in ECOS gives you the ability to view any sanctions associated with the certification(s). Finally, you can see when the certification(s) are set to expire, which gives the charter school the ability to remind educators to renew active certification(s) in advance of their expiration date(s).

How Do I Pull and Verify Educator Certification?

  1. Login to your TEAL Account
  2. Click on the Educator Certification Online System Application for your school
  3. *Please note: You must have access to the Role: District_Fingerprint Update under ECOS.
  4. On the left-hand side of your screen click the Educator Information Tab
  5. Click Educator Search
  6. Type in Educator’s Social Security Number or TEA Test ID
  7. Click on the “Certification” tab on the toolbar
  8. View their SBEC Certification(s)

Do I need to look up an educators’ certification if they provided the school a copy of it?

While it is not required, it is strongly recommended to ensure validity of the certification and real-time information.

When should I view a New Hires certification in ECOS?

It is advised to pull an educator’s certification in ECOS during the hiring process, with the employment offer contingent upon the results.

Should I look up employees in ECOS if they didn’t list a certification?

Yes! Some employees may have been awarded certifications through an ISD/Charter School they formerly worked at that they may not have been made aware of. Ex:) Educational Aide certification, Permit

Therefore, it is advised that you look up ALL employees.

Should I pull all staff certifications yearly?

Yes, you should review all staff certifications yearly. This ensures that you, as the employer, are up to date with your staff’s certifications and aware of real-time statuses. This also better ensures you are tracking expiration dates and reminding your staff of needs for renewals.

When should I pull/review all staff certifications?

In our experience, Fall/Winter is a great time to review staff certifications. What is important is that you find a time that this fits with your schedule and will occur as a nonnegotiable on an annual basis.

How do I keep my schools’ certification information organized?

A great way to stay organized is to keep this information in a school software system. Generating a report from time to time will help keep you abreast of expiring certifications. If this is not an option, then a spreadsheet of employee certifications will work too!

Need some assistance? Contact us!

Jordan Elliott, Chief Operations Officer