Amid Rising Number of Uncertified Teachers, Previous Classroom Experience Proves Vital in Texas

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2024

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This policy brief examines the growing prevalence and impact of uncertified teachers in Texas public schools, particularly focusing on their backgrounds and the implications for student achievement. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant rise in the employment of uncertified teachers, driven by staffing shortages and the flexibility offered by state regulators. Using data from the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, this study reveals that nearly half of first-time, full-time new teacher hires are uncertified, with a disproportionate concentration in rural districts. The analysis shows that uncertified teachers, especially those without prior classroom experience, are linked to declines in student achievement. Conversely, uncertified teachers with prior classroom roles such as paraprofessionals do not negatively impact student outcomes. The brief highlights the need for targeted investment in high-quality alternative certification pathways and enhanced data transparency to address these challenges. Recommendations include leveraging Grow Your Own programs, improving alternative certification pathways, and increasing data accessibility to ensure better hiring decisions and support student success across Texas.

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