TEA proposes removing lesson design from teacher pedagogy… | TCTA
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TEA proposes removing lesson design from teacher pedagogy standards

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The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) met April 26 to discuss several items, among them a proposal to remove “lesson design” from the list of teacher pedagogy standards. The Texas Coalition for Educator Preparation (TCEP), of which TCTA is a founding member, testified with concerns about the proposal, cautioning SBEC that not instructing new teachers in lesson design would be an unwise and dramatic shift in what the state expects teachers to be able to do on the job.

According to the Texas Education Agency, the motivation for the proposed change comes from requirements in House Bill 1605, which was passed in 2023. The bill creates a statewide repository of high-quality instructional materials (HQIM) for teachers and incentivizes adoption of these materials by providing additional funding to districts that use them.

Among the common components of HQIM are prewritten weekly and unit lesson plans, and as such, TEA seeks to shift the focus of foundational teaching standards from that of lesson design and planning to lesson internalization and evaluation of instructional materials. TEA argued that HB 1605 provisions prohibiting districts from requiring teachers to engage in “initial plan design and instructional design” or selecting instructional materials during their planning and preparation time unless the teacher enters into a supplemental agreement with the district to do so means that the legislature intended for teachers not to engage in lesson design at all. However, HB 1605 also clearly provides that these provisions do not prohibit a teacher from choosing to spend their planning and preparation time creating or selecting instructional materials.

In testimony, TCEP pointed out that the proposed standards are heavily slanted toward district adoption of high-quality instructional materials, including open education resource instructional materials (OER), which typically include prewritten lesson plans. However, while HB 1605 incentivizes district adoption of HQIM and OER, this is not a mandate, nor is it the norm across the state. In fact, HQIM are only available for a very small portion of the curriculum. TCEP emphasized that lesson design is a foundational aspect of the professional expertise of teaching and must remain central to the Texas teacher pedagogy standards. Although some argue that the adoption of scripted HQIM removes the need for lesson design and will unburden teachers, there is disagreement in the field. Those opposed caution that scripted curricula should only ever be used temporarily to support new and inexperienced teachers. Further, educators must be adept at lesson design to have the skills to differentiate and adapt to all learners.

In response, several SBEC members echoed TCEP’s concerns questioning the wisdom of removing lesson design from the standards. Some also wondered how many courses will have HQIM available in the years to come and, more broadly, agreed that lesson design is a fundamental skill for teachers whether a district adopts HQIM or not.

After some spirited discussion, TEA staff said they would take the public comments and SBEC’s concerns and make changes to the proposal in advance of SBEC’s next meeting in July. TCEP and TCTA will continue to monitor the proposal as it moves through the rulemaking process.