TCTA testifies against controversial certification exam again | TCTA
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TCTA testifies against controversial certification exam again

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After a push by the State Board for Educator Certification to replace the current teacher pedagogy certification exam with a controversial performance assessment (edTPA) was unanimously rejected by the elected State Board of Education in June, SBEC took action at its Dec. 9 meeting to direct TEA staff to pursue implementing performance assessments, including a yet-to-be-developed Texas-specific performance assessment, as a certification exam.

Staff presented SBEC with a proposed implementation plan that would require teacher candidates to complete the edTPA performance assessment beginning in the 2024-25 academic year as the pedagogy certification exam requirement with other potential vetted performance assessments coming on as options in 2026-27.

TCTA testified against the proposal, along with other members of the Texas Coalition for Educator Preparation, of which TCTA is a founding member. TCTA pointed out that by taking this course of action, SBEC was once again solely focused on performance assessments as certification exams, despite interest by stakeholders and some SBEC members in pursuing alternatives, such as updating/revising the current Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities exam. In rejecting the SBEC proposal in June, SBOE members made clear that SBEC needed to thoroughly explore other possible approaches that would not create all the problems that had been articulated with requiring edTPA as a certification test before sending SBOE a new rule to review.

After holding several work sessions to further explore the issue in the last several months, SBEC members expressed interest at their Sept. 30 meeting in implementing a performance assessment as a certification exam as well as providing additional options that would not require a teacher performance assessment for certification. Specifically, the board was interested in providing “carve-outs” to performance assessment for certification for teachers participating in residency routes as well as for certain subject areas, including Fine Arts and Career and Technology.

TEA staff presented SBEC with options for these “carve-outs”:

  • Establishing a new teacher residency certificate, which would include the requirement that the candidate successfully complete a yearlong clinical teaching experience, during which they demonstrated mastery of prioritized competencies, for issuance of their standard certificate, in lieu of passing a pedagogy exam; and
  • Providing for candidates pursuing certification in Art, CTE fields, Dance, Music and Theatre to take an updated/revised PPR exam rather than a teacher performance assessment for certification.

TCTA pointed out in our testimony that the idea of a updated/revised PPR is something TCTA and numerous other stakeholders had consistently suggested, rather than pursuing an expensive, time-consuming and controversial performance assessment. However our suggestion had never been widely considered a valid option, until now — though only for certain certificate areas.

TCTA questioned why, if a revised PPR exam was considered appropriate for some certificate areas, it was not considered appropriate for all certificate areas. TCTA also pointed out that, given this newfound interest in considering a revised PPR exam, it was premature, and unnecessarily limiting for the board to take action in directing TEA staff to pursue implementing only performance assessments as a certification exam. Accordingly, TCTA requested the board to decline to take this action, and instead further flesh out the options so that all could take place simultaneously.

Other testimony centered around the fact that with the 88th Texas Legislature likely to consider bills related to the educator pipeline, it would be wise for SBEC to delay taking further action until session has concluded.

However, the board gave TEA staff the go-ahead to initiate a public request process to identify educator performance assessments as educator certification examinations in addition to edTPA, and to initiate the procurement process for the development of a Texas Teacher Performance Assessment as an educator certification examination in addition to edTPA.

Next steps

TEA staff is expected to bring draft rule language to SBEC for discussion at its February 2023 meeting to implement performance assessments as certification exams as well as to address the two “carve-outs” from this requirement for candidates completing teacher residencies and for candidates seeking Fine Arts and/or CTE certification.

Depending on whether the board generally agrees with the draft rule language in February, more finalized rule language would be presented to the board for approval at its April 2023 meeting.

However, the State Board for Education could include a review of SBEC's progress regarding performance assessment during its January and April meetings, perhaps providing SBEC with additional feedback, prior to potentially receiving a final rule from SBEC sometime this summer.

TCTA will continue to monitor and report on any developments.