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Region One revamps teacher certification program

Throughout the last 50 years, there has been a steady decline in people earning degrees in education. Combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, retirement, extreme burnout and low pay, the Rio Grande Valley is one of the regions facing what has been dubbed a national teacher shortage. However, education researchers recently spoke about how shortage might not be the correct term. 

But whatever the reason for teacher vacancies, the Region One Education Service Center has been working to maintain educator retention in the Valley. With its teacher alternative certification program, Region One prepares qualified candidates to start their second career in the classroom. 

Although ACPs have been around for about two decades, the Texas Education Agency recently granted Region One’s teacher alternative certification program accreditation status. With the new approval, Region One can produce state-certified teachers. 


Region One designed the alternative certification program for individuals that already hold a bachelor’s degree or trade certification, and want to explore a second career as a teacher. 

The eligibility process is lengthy. It includes admission exams, information sessions and advisement to ensure the candidates pursue the certification area for which they are best suited. Once in the program, Region One uses a combination of face-to-face and online learning models to prepare candidates for the classroom. 

Director of Educator Preparation Programs Linda Rodriguez said poor transitioning is a reason for the decline in available educators. For that reason, Region One extended the timeframe of its teacher alternative certification program.   

“Looking at our recent reports, we ultimately know that there’s been a voice for a need for support. And so we did our due diligence as a program to ensure that we looked at where we could extend,” Rodriguez said. “That’s how we determined that we’re no longer going to just be 12 months for all certification areas; that can be for some. But if we’re looking at those who need additional support because they have to take three or six state exams, then that is a reason to extend our level of support to ensure that our candidates are well prepared, not only for the state exams but for their first day of class.” 

For Region One to keep its accreditation status, it must provide program candidates with the appropriate tools for success. 

Another teacher preparation program is on the verge of the state revoking its accreditation. The State Board for Educator Certification put the Texas Teachers of Tomorrow on probation until July for ongoing issues and failing to correct the problems within the program. Complaints include misleading potential teachers, not supporting candidates with mentors and failing to demonstrate training based on research. 

Region One has made several efforts to ensure program success, one of which is partnering with local school districts to develop staff within their respective school systems. The program is not just about producing ready-to-hire individuals, Rodriguez said. The goal is to maintain or increase teacher retention. 

“We’re growing our teachers in the Valley,” the director said. “And the beautiful thing is that our teachers mirror the very students they have in their classes. So there are going to be many opportunities for connections, relationships and relevancy when teachers are preparing lessons for students.”

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