This article appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of The Classroom Teacher.
TCTA thanked the State Board for Educator Certification in public testimony at its Feb. 21, 2020, meeting for approving proposed rule language initiated by TCTA giving educators more time to complete new CPE requirements added by the 86th Legislature, effective this year.
House Bill 18, passed in 2019, added four required topics to the list of mandatory CPE topics for teachers and three topics to the mandatory list for counselors. The bill requires SBEC to implement the new requirements by May 2020. Many of the added topics relate to mental health conditions, grief and trauma in reaction to rising teen suicide rates and school shootings that had happened prior to the 2019 legislative session.
TCTA was concerned about the ability of educators who were within one year of their certificate renewal deadline to meet the new requirements by their renewal deadline. Accordingly, TCTA worked with TEA staff to develop rule language providing that satisfaction of CPE requirements is not required by the renewal date if such requirements are implemented within one year prior to the renewal date. The SBEC voted to approve the proposed language, and is scheduled to finally adopt the CPE rule revisions at its May 1, 2020, meeting.
Also included in the proposed rule revisions is language that TCTA was successful in getting included in HB 18 that allows for two or more of the required topics to be included in a single training.
Additionally, at TCTA’s request, the proposed rule revisions provide that despite compliance with the list of mandatory CPE topics, the emphasis of an educator's CPE activities should be related to the educator's certificate and the standards on which it is based.
TCTA’s efforts in this regard are part of a long-standing commitment by TCTA to limit the amount of mandatory teacher training. TCTA is keenly aware of the increasing number of training demands being placed on educators, and is widely known among legislators and policymakers as an advocate for minimizing the addition of any new, frequently required training for teachers, counselors and librarians. TCTA has done this in the name of enhancing the value of existing training and making sure that educators have time to pursue self-selected professional development based on their own identified needs.
Finally, HB 18 lifted the cap for mandatory educator CPE topics from a ceiling of no more than 25% to a floor of at least 25%, and this change was reflected in the proposed SBEC rule revisions. TCTA was greatly concerned about this change and worked diligently with the bill author’s office to come up with a different way of allowing educators who wanted to get more than 25% of their CPE in a mandatory topic to be able to count those for purposes of meeting their total CPE hours requirement. However, given the prominence of the issue of school safety last session, there was little pushback from anyone aside from TCTA about the change in the cap, and the bill’s author was insistent that the language remain.