Highlights of Oct. 25 SBEC meeting
Date Posted: 10/25/2013 | Author: Jennifer Mitchell, CAE
The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) met today and took action on several items. The board held a lengthy discussion on plans to implement new certification exams for EC–6 and 4–8 generalists in response to 2013 legislation. House Bill (HB) 2012, which ATPE supported, requires the board to ensure that generalist certificate applicants demonstrate proficiency in all four of the core subject areas (math, science, social studies and English/language arts/reading). Currently, it is possible to pass the generalist certification exam without being proficient in all four of the core subjects. Several concerns have been raised about the Texas Education Agency's (TEA's) plans for complying with HB 2012. One area of contention is the timeline for replacing the existing tests with the new exams. TEA does not plan to allow any overlap period in which both the old and new exams will be administered, and once the new tests are launched, certification candidates who took the expired tests will have only one year to complete all the other requirements for certification. Several representatives of alternative certification programs spoke today urging the board to allow for a two-year transition period. Also, under a framework developed by TEA staff members, anyone who fails a single section of the new exam will be required to retake the entire five-hour test covering all four subjects. While this is not a requirement of HB 2012, TEA contends that logistical hurdles will make it difficult to administer retests that only cover particular subjects. Calling that decision "unfair" and "ludicrous," several board members asked the staff members to reconsider the plan and discuss possible alternatives with the testing vendor. Another concern about the new generalist exams is the fact that they will be designed to test only the four core subjects. This, too, is a TEA decision rather than a requirement of HB 2012. Many fear that teachers in self-contained classrooms at the elementary level might no longer be able to teach additional subjects such as health, PE or fine arts if they have only been tested in the four core subjects. TEA advises that they are still researching this issue, including possible implications for those teachers' "highly qualified" status, and they have not yet proposed any changes to the state's assignment rules. ATPE will be watching this issue closely and will report on any developments related to the plans for the new generalist certification exams. Also, SBEC voted today to amend several of its rules in response to other bills that passed in 2013. These changes include making it easier for people to become certified to teach health science technology courses and expediting the processing of certification or renewal applications submitted by military members or their spouses. In addition, pursuant to HB 3793 and HB 642, the board proposed changes to its Rule 232.11 on the types of continuing professional education (CPE) hours required of educators. Read the text of the proposed new CPE rule here. The board amended its own operating policies and procedures relating to oral argument in disciplinary cases. From now on, the board will allow only two individuals to speak on behalf of a party involved in a disciplinary case being heard at a board meeting. Finally, the board elected a chairperson, vice chairperson and secretary from among its members. Bonny Cain and Christie Pogue retain their posts as chair and vice chair, respectively, while Suzanne McCall was selected to serve as secretary. For any additional information about today's SBEC actions and discussions, feel free to contact ATPE Governmental Relations.
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