SBEC Recap: Major Changes Approved for Educator Preparation 

The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) met for its first regular meeting of the year on Feb. 16 in Austin. The 15-member appointed board took up several pertinent items within SBEC rules related to educator training and certification. 

Chapter 228: Educator Preparation 

The board took up the proposed repeal and replacement of the entirety of Chapter 228, which dictates the curriculum that Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) must deliver in their teacher training programs and outlines the requirements for each type of classroom certificate. 

This item included the shiny new “enhanced certificate” for candidates who complete a residency model. While we do not wholly object to a residency model — it is, after all, very closely modeled after a union-style apprenticeship — it has the potential to be a burdensome addition for preparation programs already operating successfully using the clinical or internship model.   

Some EPPs have expressed concern for the number of clinical teaching hours required (490 in a semester) without the flexibility to count hours such as co-curricular activities as part of the total. The proposed incremental increase in the pre-service requirements for issuance of an intern or probationary certificate, from 30 to 50, received mixed testimony in the room. One testifier did not object to the increase in hours as much as the agency’s lack of transparency in the potential fiscal impact to programs. 

Though Texas Education Agency staff members were able to allay the concerns expressed by some testifiers, the fact that the rules were confusing to the field means the agency will need to provide clear and consistent guidance to programs. 

Chapter 230: Educator Certification 

When we wrote our SBEC preview, we could not have predicted the changes we would see in this item. Stakeholders were prepared to hear an update on the request for proposal (RFP) process for the development of a Texas-specific, edTPA-look-alike certification exam, colloquially referred to as the TxTPA. The “update” was that the process had concluded and that the contract would not be awarded. 

The proposed rules (as presented last December) had language that would have sunsetted the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) exam and would have added the new TxTPA as another certification option alongside the edTPA. With the future of the TxTPA in question, the recommendation was to remove the sunset and operationalize the edTPA. 

This is significant because the edTPA has only existed as a pilot exam up to this point. The rationale for this change is to ensure that EPPs who are choosing to use the flawed edTPA can use pass rates in their accountability calculation. The Texas Coalition for Educator Preparation (TCEP), of which Texas AFT is a founding member, argued that to operationalize the test sends a signal to the field that the test has been approved for use (which it has not), and that the accountability rules should instead be modified to prevent any negative impact to programs. While the board disagreed, Chair Jean Streepey did express that it was not the board’s intent to require edTPA unless and until there was an alternative examination. 

The other significant issue in Chapter 230 was overshadowed by the new information presented above. The new rules for the “enhanced certificate” would have allowed the issuance of that certificate without the passage of the pedagogy exam. Currently, all other teacher candidates, regardless of their preparation route, must take both the content and pedagogy exams. We recognize that the residency route has the potential to be an effective path to the classroom, but those candidates should not be exempted from certification requirements simply because of their preparation route. 

While there was significant discussion in the room regarding the failed RFP and stalled implementation of the edTPA, the board did not address the omission of the pedagogy exam for resident candidates. 

Attendees of our ongoing Educating Texas webinar series will recall that the SBEC rules are subject to the approval of the State Board of Education (SBOE). The SBEC adopted changes to both Chapters 228 and 230, and these changes now must go before the SBOE at its regular April meeting in order to be effective in fall 2024. 

Teacher Attrition and the Rise of Uncertified Educators 

Preliminary findings on the growth of uncertified teachers. A peer-reviewed report is forthcoming. Image courtesy of Dr. Michael Marder, UT Austin. 

One of the more eye-opening pieces of testimony from Dr. Michael Marder, Executive Director and co-founder of UTeach, was not on the proposed rule changes but rather how the rule changes will not affect a growing percentage of the teacher workforce. Marder shared that the number of uncertified teachers entering the classroom is skyrocketing. 

Districts of Innovation and charter schools can exempt themselves from the law governing teacher certification and, as a result, can and do hire uncertified teachers. As this tidal wave of underprepared teachers hits our school systems, veteran teachers must bear the burden of mentoring these uncertified hires, and students may receive inadequate instruction, yielding poorer student learning outcomes. Underprepared and uncertified teachers are also more likely to leave the profession, contributing to the revolving door of teacher attrition. 

Neither the school districts nor these new uncertified teachers would have any incentive to seek the appropriate training and earn their certification. In other words, all the changes the SBEC is implementing will mean nothing on a practical level for a significant and growing percentage of the teacher pool. 

We will provide an update on this process in our SBOE recap in an April edition of the Hotline. 

Tags: ,