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Teaching Fitness Policies

The following sections are included on this page:

You have selected one of the most challenging—and rewarding—careers, and the Teacher Education program is committed to your success as a novice teacher. If you find that you require assistance with any challenges—academic, personal, emotional, or otherwise—we are happy to assist to our best abilities. Resources are available on our website, through the Office of Undergraduate Studies, and by consulting academic advisors and faculty members.

Teacher Education Teaching Fitness Statement

All applicants to the Teacher Education program are required to digitally sign the following statement indicating their understanding of the requirements of fitness to teach as a part of the Teacher Education application:

Admission to the UH Teacher Education Program entitles you to register for the required coursework for the appropriate phase of your program. You are required to meet all requirements necessary to pass each of the courses on the appropriate degree plan. However, becoming a teacher requires more than successfully passing your coursework.

Required benchmarks, as listed on your degree plan, include, but may not be limited to:

  • passing required coursework;
  • passing the Writing Assessment; 
  • passing Benchmark versions of the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) and appropriate content area state certification examinations;
  • passing a criminal background check required for placement in public school settings;
  • exhibiting acceptable professional attributes required of a teaching professional;
  • and regularly reviewing your degree plan with your advisor. 

These and any other benchmarks are listed on your degree plan. As you successfully complete each phase of your program, including satisfying all required benchmarks, you will be considered for advancement to the next phase. Student progress is monitored through the entire program to assure that students who are advanced in the program have demonstrated the prerequisite skills necessary to be successful at the next level. Students who are not progressing in academic or other professional requirements will consult with the Teacher Education Student Success Task Force to identify a plan for achieving success in the program.

Additionally, the Teacher Education program gradually requires students to integrate the practical application of knowledge and skills acquired during campus-based instruction into authentic classroom settings. Our venue for instruction is not only on the UH campus but also public school settings throughout the Houston area. Therefore, you must be able to demonstrate mastery of course work, not only on paper and pencil assessments, but also in applied classroom settings. State law requires that you be able to complete and pass a district criminal background check form conducted by the appropriate school district, typically including supplying a social security number, prior to you being allowed to participate in a field placement with one of our school partners. Failure to complete and pass this criminal background check process may result in your not being allowed placement in a school. Consequently, because the only way to learn to be a teacher is to spend significant time in classroom settings, inability to complete required field placements means you will not meet the requirements necessary for teacher certification.

In accordance with Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the College of Education attempts to provide students who require them reasonable accommodations in academic as well as applied settings. We encourage and promote a diverse student population and make every effort to provide the support necessary for each student to become an outstanding teacher. When placing students in school settings we must consider the ability of the student to physically and mentally perform the varied and rigorous duties of a public school teacher, ensuring the safety of both the student and of the children in the schools.

It is important to note that the above requirements are necessary but insufficient for successfully completing the Teacher Education program. Admission to the program does not guarantee that you will be successful in completing the program which requires skills that are often unnecessary in campus-based courses. Likewise, successful completion of the program and recommendation for certification does not guarantee employment in a chosen certification area by a school district. It is therefore incumbent upon you to demonstrate that with reasonable accommodations, you can meet all the required benchmarks and demonstrate all the professional attributes and capabilities required of a certified teacher in the State of Texas.

When Candidates Encounter Difficulties

Students exhibiting specific difficulties with the Professional Attributes will follow a tiered set of stages of intervention with the goal of supporting all candidates toward program success to the extent possible.

Informal Stage

The preparation of strong and effective professional educators is the mission of the Teacher Education program; therefore, the Professional Attributes are a regular part of the content and assessment of all Teacher Education courses. Just as we instruct our teacher candidates on the art of ongoing assessment, Teacher Education instructors and staff are constantly alert and responsive to teacher candidates’ strengths and needs, be they academic, behavioral, personal, emotional, or otherwise in nature.

When issues with teacher candidate behaviors are observed (as outlined by the list of Professional Attributes), whether in courses, in school settings, in the Undergraduate Studies office, or through electronic communication, faculty, supervisors, facilitators, and program staff will consult and advise the teacher candidate, identifying both the problem and recommended solution. Teacher candidates can seek, and are offered, assistance in many informal ways on a daily basis. It is assumed that most inappropriate behaviors or other concerns can be remediated at the informal stage.

Formal Stage 1

Teacher Education faculty and staff regularly communicate about student strengths and needs. Concerns that are chronic or particularly troubling are reported to the program so that they can be monitored as a candidate progresses through the program. Written documentation includes a description of the concerning behaviors or instances and their context, as well as supervisor and faculty recommendations. It is expected that any student issue that is reported has already been addressed with the individual student and continues to be a problem.

For most concerns that are noted in one course or by one instructor or staff member only, the policy is to continue to monitor the behavior, watching for trends or ways in which the program can intervene for a candidate’s success.

Formal Stage 2

Once a similar concern or set of concerns is reported for a teacher candidate by more than one  instructor or for more than one semester, or when a behavior is especially egregious,  that  student may be contacted to attend a meeting with a small team of members of  the Teacher Education Student Success Task Force. Coordinators of various program components may also submit in writing to the task force recommendations for a teacher candidate, based on interventions that have previously been attempted.

Likely outcomes of such a meeting with the task force might include recommendation of resources (e.g., online, within the University  of  Houston,  or  in  the  community),  recommendation  that  the candidate  consult  with  other professionals,  as  necessary,  or  the  placement  of  the teacher  candidate  on  a  growth  plan.  Growth  plans  are  used  by  the program  to formally document concerning behaviors and  recommended actions on the part of the teacher candidate and the program. The teacher candidate will receive written notification of the task force’s decision, including copies of a growth plan, if created.

Formal Stage 3

Any candidates who have met with members of the Teacher Education Student Success Task Force will be continually monitored throughout the rest of the program. If the behavior or conditions improve, a growth plan can be deemed satisfied.

Persistent lack of professionalism, academic, and/or teaching requirements, or the contingencies of a growth plan not being met, can result in the task force meeting to discuss the best course of action for that particular candidate. The task force will consist of any relevant faculty members, teacher candidate supervisor, coordinators for various components of the program, and the Teacher Education Program Coordinator.

The outcomes of such subsequent meetings can range from modified growth plans with additional requirements to a recommendation for dismissal from the Teacher Education program and subsequent denial of the certification process. In more severe cases, to include instances when the outcome is recommendation for dismissal, a hearing will be scheduled with the student and the task force to discuss the candidate’s situation, the recommendation, and options. Both written and oral evidence may be submitted at the hearing or in writing by the teacher candidate or by task force members. Written records of any formal task force student hearings will be maintained.  A hearing will not be conducted with two or fewer task force members present.  

If the recommendation for dismissal from the program stands as a result of the hearing, the task force will inform the candidate and the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in writing of the outcome. The teacher candidate may file a written appeal of any Teacher Education Student Success Task Force decision to the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Teacher Education within ten working days of notification from the decision.

All teacher candidates who are in good academic standing but who have been dismissed from the Teacher Education program, or those who elect to not pursue teacher certification, are permitted to complete their degree, working with their instructors to substitute alternate assignments in place of assignments which require time spent in school field placements. Candidates must complete all coursework, field placements, and benchmark requirements, and have good professional attributes ratings, in order to be eligible to be recommended for certification by the University of Houston.