Frequently Asked Questions
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Program + Training
How long is Odessa Pathway to Teaching’s certification program?
The Odessa Pathway to Teaching program lasts approximately 15 months. It begins with the Enrollment Period in January, continues with Pre-Service Training in late May, and concludes once participants have met all requirements to obtain a Standard certificate at the end of the internship year.
In what subject areas can I get certified?
The Odessa Pathway to Teaching offers the following certification areas:
- Core Subjects EC-6
- Core Subjects 4-8
- Math 7-12
- Science 7-12
- English Language Arts & Reading (ELAR) 7-12
At this time, these are the only certification areas offered to OPT participants. While certifications like Special Education, Bilingual, and Spanish are in high demand, our program focuses on the subject areas most needed by our district and that can be supported by our high-quality coursework and coaching. If you are interested in certifications outside of the eight listed above, you may take the TExES exam to add that certification once you’ve obtained a standard certificate in one of the approved areas through OPT.
How do I complete the program and become a certified teacher?
To finish the program, you must successfully complete Pre-Service Training, your Internship Year, all required coursework, and pass your TExES content exam, the Science of Teaching Reading exam (if applicable), and either the PPR exam or edTPA portfolio. Once you have completed the requirements and passed the performance screen at each stage, you will eligible to be recommended for your Standard Certificate by Odessa Pathway to Teaching.
If at the end of your Internship Year you fall short of passing the performance screen but, in the sole discretion of OPT, appear to be on the right trajectory to meet that bar with additional support, you may be placed on an extension year to continue improving your teaching under a Probationary certificate, with the opportunity to be re-assessed in their second year of teaching.
To learn more about various TExES exams, visit Pearson's website.
What is Pre-Service Training (PST)?
Pre-Service Training begins following the Enrollment period and is a five-week, intensive jumpstart to your teaching career. Skill-building sessions focus on the core skills needed to be an effective teacher, while field experience provides participants with the opportunity to practice their skills in real ECISD classrooms under the guidance of their Mentor Teacher. Please note that to be eligible to start PST, you will be expected to meet shared expectations regarding test prep and readiness to take the TExES exam during the Enrollment period.
Is Pre-Service Training required?
Pre-Service Training is required to be eligible to continue through and complete the Odessa Pathway to Teaching program. Passing Pre-Service Training is required to begin your Internship year.
What are the dates of the Summer 2021 Pre-Service Training?
Pre-Service Training for the Summer 2021 Cohort begins in May 2021 and lasts five weeks ending in July 2021. Each day lasts from approximately 7:30am to 5pm CST.
What does a typical day of training look like?
Your Pre-Service Training days will be broken up into teaching at our summer lab school sites (field experience) in the mornings and in-person skill-building and responsive coaching sessions in the afternoons. In addition to field experience, skill-building sessions, and responsive coaching sessions, apprentices will be expected to complete lesson planning and online coursework modules on their own. While the exact times may vary, the following is a typical “day in the life” of an apprentice in Pre-Service Training:
- 7:30am-7:45am: Check in at school site
- 7:45am-12:00pm: Teaching at school site (field experience)
- 12:00pm 1:00pm: Lunch
- 1:00pm-4:30pm: Skill-building sessions, responsive coaching sessions, and test preparations
Independent lesson-planning, online coursework completion, and/or independent test prep
*Note: Please note that the structure of Pre-Service Training remains flexible to respond to federal, state, and district guidelines regarding COVID-19. Our hope is that Pre-Service Training will return to a primarily in-person model next summer, but please be aware that this structure is subject to change. Updates will be shared as we have them.
Can I work while I complete Pre-Service Training?
You will be expected to attend full day sessions for five weeks, including several weeks of hand-on classroom experience with Ector County students. This will be an opportunity to experience the rigors of classroom instruction and lesson planning in a supportive environment. Given the compressed time window and the demands of training, you will be unable to have a full-time job. If needed, you can explore part-time or contract opportunities on the weekend.
Is housing provided during Pre-Service Training?
Housing options are offered to participants living outside of the Midland/Odessa area. Optional housing will be available through Midland College. Participants must decide directly with the College. Contact information will be provided upon admission.
What is the deadline for taking the TExES?
Test preparation and practice tests are provided during the Enrollment period and Pre-Service Training. Once you receive a passing score on the practice test, you will be approved to take the content exam. The TExES content exam is required to obtain an intern certificate, which is necessary to enter the classroom as a teacher of record. In order to obtain an intern certificate prior to the start of the school year, you must take your content exam by July 9, 2021.
What happens if I don’t pass the TExES exam by the deadline?
There are a few testing scenarios that candidates can experience while participating in Odessa Pathway to Teaching. While enrolled, our program staff will share regular performance updates so that you are aware of your enrollment status and can make informed decisions about your next steps.
Scenario 1 – Pass your TExES exam. If you pass your TExES exam (and PST) by the deadline outlined above, you are eligible to be hired by Ector County ISD and start the school year as an Intern teacher.
Scenario 2 – Don’t pass your TExES exam but demonstrate high potential. If you don’t pass your TExES exam by the deadline outlined above but demonstrate the potential to pass with ongoing support, there could be additional licensure options for entering the classroom. These options will be outlined by program staff as needed.
Scenario 3 – Don’t pass your TExES exam and substantial growth is needed. Because of the TEA requirement to pass your TExES exam for certification, OPT staff must consider how much growth in content knowledge is needed and how much test prep can realistically be offered. If you are not demonstrating a high likelihood of passing your TExES exam by the conclusion of PST, you will be unable to continue to the Internship year.
What supports are available to help me pass the TExES state content exam?
Once enrolled in the program, you will have access to online test preparation (free-of-charge) and extensive study materials. You will be expected to attend one test prep session per week and one Saturday session per month during the Enrollment period to build extensive content knowledge. Practice tests will be administered to determine test readiness and provide candidates with the opportunity to simulate the real testing experience.
Eligibility + Admissions
What is required to be admitted?
To be eligible for Odessa Pathway to Teaching, candidates must:
- Have a bachelor’s degree
- Have a 2.5 or better GPA (overall or in the last 60 credit hours of your undergraduate degree)
- Demonstrate content area proficiency via credit hours or subject area PACT exam
- Provide official copies of transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended
- Meet all legal requirements to work in the United States
- Be able to pass a drug test and background check
- Pass the TOEFL exam by December 4, 2020 (if required)
After meeting basic eligibility requirements, applicants will be required to participate in and pass several components of an in-person interview to be admitted. For more details on the selection process, visit the How To Apply section.
What documents are required for admission?
To be admitted to the Odessa Pathway to Teaching, you must submit:
- Complete application
- Official copies of all transcripts *Please note that official copies of transcripts from all institutions attended (even if you transferred before graduating) are required to be invited to interview.
- Required background and fingerprinting check documents (driver's license and Social Security card)
Do I have to pass a Pre-Admission Content Test (PACT) prior to joining the program?
The Odessa Pathway to Teaching is a non-PACT program, which means that you will not need to pass a Pre-Admission Content Test to be admitted to the program. If you have already passed a content exam, that will suffice as proof of content area proficiency. If you have not passed a content area exam, you will need to demonstrate content area proficiency via credit hours (12 semester credit hours for Core Subjects or English Language Arts, or 15 credit hours for Math or Science).
If you are admitted without having passed the content exam you still must pass the TExES content exam in your chosen subject area to obtain your intern certificate. Apprentices must demonstrate proficiency in their content area by achieving a passing score on a practice test before being approved to take the TExES exam.
What if I have already passed a content exam?
If you have already passed a content exam in your subject area, you have met the requirements for content area proficiency and do not need to do so via semester credit hours. You will also not be required to take the exam again once admitted to the program if you are pursuing that certification area.
How many credit hours are required to be admitted to the program if I have not already passed a content exam?
Applicants pursuing Core Subjects EC-6 or 4-8 or ELAR 7-12 must have 12 semester credit hours in their content area to be admitted. Applicants pursuing Mathematics or Science 7-12 must have 15 semester credit hours in their content area to be admitted. Odessa Pathway to Teaching will review your transcripts to determine whether you have sufficient credit hours for your first-choice priority area. Candidates admitted with a sufficient number of credit hours must still pass the content exam for their subject area by the end of the summer to earn their intern certificate.
How do I apply?
To apply to the Odessa Pathway to Teaching, visit http://www.odessapathwaytoteaching.org and click on the Apply Here link at the bottom of the page. Please note that copies of transcripts from all institutions attended (even if you transferred before graduating) are required to move forward in the selection process.
What happens after I apply?
After you apply, your application and transcripts will be reviewed for basic eligibility requirements. If you meet the eligibility requirements outlined below, you will be contacted to schedule an in-person interview. Please note that copies of transcripts from all institutions attended (even if you transferred before graduating) are required to move forward in the selection process.
How long does it take to review my application?
Your application will be reviewed within three (3) business days. You will receive next steps via email.
What is the interview format?
The interview, either in-person or virtual, consists of various activities that enable program staff to determine each applicant's potential and fit with the program. This is also a time to complete the required ECISD screening tools (background check and drug testing) to be eligible to enter a classroom during PST.
How will I know if I have been admitted?
If you are admitted to the Odessa Pathway to Teaching, you will receive official notice of your acceptance via email within one week of your interview. To accept admission, you will be required to sign and return your offer letter.
Can international applicants apply?
Yes! Odessa Pathway to Teaching strives to enroll divers applicants with a variety of experiences and backgrounds. For more information on international applicants, please visit the Eligibility and Admissions page of our website.
When are the application deadlines?
Odessa Pathway to Teaching accepts applications in two rounds - The Priority Round and the Final Round. The sooner you apply, the sooner you can be admitted and have access to test prep and program materials. Though we accept applications at all times through the final deadline, we encourage interested applicants to apply as soon as possible. See below for Summer 2021 cohort application deadlines:
- Priority Round: Friday, October 30, 2020
- Final Round (last deadline to apply): Monday, November 30, 2020
Cost + Benefits
How much does the program cost?
For 2021-2022, our training tuition is $3,900. This will cover the full cost of the internship year, including access to high-quality training materials, personalized coaching, and ongoing support to earn your certification.
Additional costs include:
- $50 fingerprinting fee
- $116 TExES exam fee (per exam)
- $78 Intern Certificate fee
- $78 Standard Teacher Certification fee
When is payment due?
Tuition is not due unless and until you begin earning a salary as an Ector County ISD teacher for the 2021-2022 school year. Tuition payments will be taken out of your ECISD paycheck in installments over the course of your two-year teaching commitment.
Is financial assistance offered?
Financial assistance is available in a variety of ways.
- OPT Scholarship: All apprentices are eligible to apply for the Odessa Pathway to Teaching Scholarship. The scholarship amount is $1,500 and is awarded in one installment prior to the completion of Pre-Service Training.
- Testing Stipend: For the Summer 2021 cohort, funds are available to cover apprentices first attempt at the TExES content exam aligned to their certification area (a $116 value). If the TExES exam is not passed on the first attempt, apprentices will be responsible for covering the cost of ongoing attempts.
- Housing Stipend: During the summer, OPT partners with Midland College to provide housing to any apprentices more than 50 miles outside of the Odessa area. Details regarding the cost, stipend, and application process are available upon admission.
- Signing Bonus: Candidates in Secondary ELA, Math, and Science are eligible for a $2,000 hiring bonus after obtaining their intern certificate and securing employment with ECISD.
Hiring + ECISD Employment
Am I an ECISD employee while I am participating in Pre-Service Training?
No. While you are participating in Pre-Service Training, you are solely affiliated with OPT. Upon securing a full-time teaching position for your Internship Year and being processed by ECISD HR, you will be considered a full-time ECISD employee.
What are the employment requirements for Odessa Pathway to Teaching?
In order to meet the requirements of your intern certificate, you must secure a position in a classroom aligned to your certification area. To meet overall program requirements, you must commit to teaching in ECISD for two (2) years.
Will Odessa Pathway to Teaching place me in a teaching position for the school year?
Odessa Pathway to Teaching apprentices are not placed in ECISD classrooms and are responsible for securing their own position for the school year. The Odessa Pathway to Teaching team will provide hiring support throughout your job search, including connecting you with principals with vacancies in your certification area.
How will I get connected with principals?
During Pre-Service Training, principals will have designated observation days in which they will be able to observe you teaching in your field experience classrooms. At the culmination of observation days, OPT holds a hiring fair for you to interview with and secure positions in ECISD for the upcoming school year.
Where can I teach?
You must secure a position in an Ector County ISD school in order to continue as a part of the Odessa Pathway to Teaching. For a full list of ECISD schools, please see the ECISD website. As a participant in OPT, it is expected you will teach a minimum of two years in ECISD.