TCTA testified before the State Board for Educator Certification in support of draft rules that reduce the number of mandatory CPE topics for teachers and cap the number of CPE hours required for the remaining mandatory topics. The board gave initial approval to the rules at its meeting Friday.
The draft rules were developed due to Senate Bill 1267, passed during the 2021 regular session, which struck a number of mandatory CPE topics that were duplicated elsewhere in statute. SB 1267 was the result of the consensus recommendations of the Teacher Workforce Workgroup convened by the lieutenant governor’s office in February 2020, of which TCTA was a leading participant, serving as a subgroup lead.
The workgroup was formed as a response to recognition that educator training requirements have continually been added throughout the years, with none removed, crowding out the time and space for educators to select training that would help them most in their particular areas of certification and in their classrooms.
In keeping with the goal of “right-sizing” educator training requirements, the workgroup’s recommendations included the elimination of a number of mandatory CPE topics — both because they were duplicative and to reduce the overall number of mandatory CPE training requirements. This in turn would serve the goal of allowing educators as much discretion as possible in the CPE they choose to pursue, thus recognizing them as the professionals they are.
TCTA worked closely with TEA staff in developing the draft rules, after successfully encouraging the board at its October meeting to reject a proposed option to add the deleted topics back into another place in SBEC rules. We will continue to be involved in the process as the rule move toward final adoption.
TCTA joined a broad coalition of stakeholders in expressing concerns to SBEC about a proposal to substitute a performance assessment for the current Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities exam for teacher certification. The subject-specific pedagogical performance assessment being proposed by TEA is edTPA, owned by Stanford University/Scale and administered by Pearson.
In its third year of being piloted in Texas, edTPA was included as a discussion item on SBEC's December agenda, with plans to formalize use of edTPA for initial certification in draft rules to be presented at its February 2022 meeting. TCTA testified at the December meeting that putting up an expensive barrier to a profession that’s extremely fragile at this point in time, without meaningfully addressing ways to make the profession more attractive, could prove disastrous.
Although the idea behind requiring passage of a performance assessment is to have a better measure than the current PPR to ensure that new teachers are sufficiently prepared to be successful in the classroom, some critics have expressed concerns about edTPA, including the increase in cost from $232-$252 to $397-$417, issues involved with the required videotaping of lessons and out-of-state scorers unfamiliar with Texas classrooms, the amount of time and effort involved in completing the assessment, concerns about the validity of the test and its appropriateness for teacher certification, evidence of negative effects on teacher production numbers, especially for non-white teachers, and adverse effects on student learning.
Several alternative proposals were presented to the board for consideration, including one by Sam Houston State University that has been in development alongside the edTPA pilot. The SHSU proposal would require a performance assessment meeting certain criteria as part of educator preparation program requirements, but not for licensure. SHSU and other educator preparation programs have long-used various informal types of performance assessments, with one of the most prevalent being those aligned with T-TESS, the state-recommended teacher appraisal system. Additional proposals include restructuring the current PPR exam to add constructed responses and, in the interim, raising the passing score on the PPR.
The board was expected to hear hours of testimony on the issue during its December meeting.