From overseeing homecoming pep rallies to arranging transportation for a single student, no concern is too big or small for elementary, middle, and high school principals. These leaders in education devote their lives to helping students, parents, and teachers overcome daily challenges. For their efforts, principals are rewarded with the chance to watch young students grow into successful learners with unique identities and ambitions. According to James Bailey, a high school principal of 17 years, “It’s the coolest, hardest, most emotionally and physically demanding, and rewarding job in the world.”
There are five Texas school principal requirements you must meet in order to obtain a principal certificate from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), one of which is earning a master’s degree in educational leadership. As we discuss how to become a school principal in Texas, consider what it would be like to take a more active role in shaping the academic lives of students. If you already hold a teaching position and enjoy seeing students benefit from the lessons you’ve instilled in them, imagine performing the same service for hundreds of students, and even thousands if you pursue a career as a superintendent.
1. Earn a Master’s Degree
Finding a university accredited by one of the agencies recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) is the first stop on your way to becoming a Texas principal. The U.S. Department of Education provides an accredited database you can use to research qualifying universities, but we think we can save you some time. Since 1975, The University of Texas Permian Basin has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the recognized regional accrediting body for degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern United States.
When you earn a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from UT Permian Basin, you’re earning a prestigious degree that meets the first requirement for becoming a principal in Texas. Our program will also prepare you for this role by covering such topics as instructional leadership, school public relations, cultural diversity in education, and school law.
2. Have a Valid Teaching Certificate
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you already hold a valid classroom teaching certificate. As stipulated by TEA, standard education certificates must be renewed every five years (Continuing professional education requirements and application instructions can be found here). Educators with a lifetime certificate (certificates issued prior to Sept. 1, 1999) must still have them revalidated by taking the Texas Higher Education Assessment (THEA).
3. Teach for Two Years
Completing two years as a classroom teacher is one of the requirements for principal certification in Texas. Many of the skills you’ve acquired as an educator—active listening, conflict resolution, time management—will prove invaluable in a career as a principal. UT Permian Basin’s online MA in educational leadership program is a meaningful and rigorous program that will build upon these skills by engaging you in real-world experiences that administrators encounter on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, because our program is 100% online, you can continue your education while working toward that two-year teaching requirement. If you’re an educator with a busy personal and professional schedule, our flexible online program and its multiple annual start dates can accommodate your needs.
4. Complete a Principal Educator Preparation Program
Prior to taking the final exam to receive a Texas principal certification, candidates must complete a principal educator preparation program. What is a principal educator preparation program? Essentially, it’s a graduate certificate program offered by universities to students who have already earned a master’s degree. UT Permian Basin offers an online principal certification program that prepares professionals for not only the certification exams but also a career as an advocate for the students, teachers, and staff that may one day be under their administration. Advanced candidates in our online MA in educational leadership program may also become eligible for a principal certification.
5. Complete the Exams
The final requirement for becoming a principal in Texas is passing the Principal as Instructional Leader (268) exam, a computer-administered test covering the following areas:
- School culture
- Leading learning
- Human capital
- Executive leadership
- Ethics, Equity, and Diversity
As of Sept. 1, 2019, candidates must also complete the Performance Assessment for School Leaders (PASL) to obtain a standard principal certification. The PASL includes three tasks that must be completed during the candidate’s internship, including a video submission of themselves facilitating a collaborative team. As part of UT Permian Basin’s online MA in educational leadership program, students complete an eight-week supervised practicum in a school setting during which students can complete the video submission requirements for the PASL.
Life as a Principal
Like UT Permian Basin’s online MA in educational leadership program, a career as a principal is rigorous and rewarding. No two days are the same, as principals attend school assemblies, meet with parents, and stop by classrooms. At every turn, they are interacting with students, listening to their successes and failures, and watching them grow into more mature and well-rounded learners. If life as a principal appeals to you, there is a clear career path to becoming a principal in Texas and it begins with earning an MA in educational leadership.