SBEC gives preliminary approval to major pedagogy exam changes
Educator Preparation | Certification
Date Posted: 2/14/2022 | Author: Andrea Chevalier
The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) convened Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, to take up an agenda that included proposed changes to certification exams and other actions to implement recently passed legislation. Here are some highlights of the meeting:
- SBEC gave initial approval to a proposal that would begin a three-year phase-in of the EdTPA performance assessment as a replacement for the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) exam required for probationary and standard certificates.
- SBEC adopted rules that will implement recent legislative changes from 2021, such as bills allowing virtual observations of educator certification candidates and updating educators’ continuing professional education (CPE) requirements.
EdTPA. ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier testified against a proposal to begin a three-year phase-in to implement the EdTPA performance assessment as a certification exam. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has worked toward replacing the PPR with an enhanced option for several years and chose EdTPA after soliciting responses to a request for proposal in 2017. TEA oversaw a three-year pilot of EdTPA in some educator preparation programs (EPPs), which was extended by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Stacey Edmonson and Dr. Christina Ellis of Sam Houston State University spearheaded a parallel pilot program using the Texas-specific teacher evaluation tool, T-TESS, as a foundation for performance assessment embedded within a candidate’s preparation, rather than as a certification exam. Throughout the pilot, education stakeholders have raised concerns about the EdTPA exam’s reliability and validity, high cost, and lack of success in other states.
On Thursday, Feb. 10, SBEC members engaged in a work session to discuss certification exam options other than EdTPA. The board heard from Dr. Elizabeth Ward of Texas Wesleyan University, who advocated that performance assessment be included within EPP curriculum rather than mandating EdTPA for certification. A teacher educator from Texas Tech University who participated in TEA’s EdTPA pilot gave a detailed explanation of how the exam is implemented. The discussion bled into Friday’s board meeting, where SBEC members called up Drs. Edmonson and Ellis to share the results of their alternative pilot, which used the T-TESS evaluation as a performance assessment within the preparation program. Edmonson and Ellis stressed that the did not intend for T-TESS to be used as a certification exam.
The proposal on Friday’s SBEC agenda provides that, in year one of the phase-in, all candidates seeking a standard or probationary certificate would have the choice to take the EdTPA exam on a pass/fail basis (no cut score yet) or the current PPR exam. In year two, candidates would have to take EdTPA, still on a pass/fail basis, but the exam data would factor into EPP accountability. By year three of the phase-in, during the 2024-25 school year, candidates would be subject to a cut score on EdTPA and implementation of the pedagogy exam replacement would be complete.
Chevalier urged the board Friday to reject the adoption of EdTPA as a mandatory exam for standard certification and instead work toward setting criteria to improve candidate preparation. She stressed that the exam is cost-prohibitive, at $311, and that making the exam mandatory would constrict the flexibility and innovation afforded to EPPs in terms of their curriculum. Because the exam comes with very specific guidelines, handbooks, and rubrics, EPPs would have to “teach to the test” using materials developed for use around the country, which is eerily reminiscent of the national Common Core curriculum standards that Texas lawmakers outlawed years ago. In ATPE’s written testimony, we pointed to insufficient evidence provided by TEA that EdTPA is the right answer. We also expressed our concerns that the increased cost will worsen teacher shortages and that most teachers in Texas will begin teaching before completing standard certification, therefore experiencing little benefit from the EdTPA exam prior to their initial placement in the classroom.
Ultimately, the board gave preliminary approval to the proposal, with three no votes from SBEC members Tommy Coleman, Rex Gore, and Bena Glasscock. Gore stated in his closing comments he was concerned the switch to EdTPA may improve some lower-performing EPPs but also “saddle” those that are high-performing programs. SBEC Chair John Kelly directed TEA staff to come back to the next board meeting with a discussion item to consider alternatives to EdTPA, though the language used in his directive suggests that these would be alternative certification exams rather than alternative approaches to improving educator preparation, such as embedding performance assessment within the curriculum.
A public comment period for the EdTPA certification exam proposal will be open from March 18 to April 18, 2022, and notice will be published in the Texas Register. The proposal will be up for final adoption at the April 29 SBEC meeting, and if approved, the rules will head to the State Board of Education (SBOE) for final review during that board’s June 14-17 meeting.
SBEC adopted the following in Friday’s consent agenda, which is a package of uncontested proposals approved in one fell swoop:
- The board adopted the rule reviews of three chapters of SBEC rules covering the accountability system for EPPs, educators’ code of ethics, and SBEC administration. The standard four-year rule review process aims to determine if there is still good reason for the existence of rule chapters.
- A proposal to implement several recent bills, including Senate Bill (SB) 1590, which dictates specific combinations of in-person and virtual observations that EPPs can use and also restricts EPPs from offering a majority of their observations virtually.
- Rule amendments that would implement SB 1267, which streamlines educators’ CPE requirements by eliminating duplicative training mandates.
- Rule amendments regarding individuals from other countries or states who want to teach in Texas, such as deleting an onerous requirement that individuals from other countries obtain a written statement from the licensing authority in their country.
- The continuing approval of three EPPs – University of Houston, Texas College, and Wiley College – which enables these programs to continue operating. In a separate item, the board approved an agreed order for the Lubbock Christian University EPP, which allows that program to continue to operate with the condition that they submit corrections for the deficiencies found during their review.
- Approval of the Region 10 Education Service Center to offer the Principal as Instructional Leader EC-12 certification.
In the consent agenda, SBEC also gave preliminary approval to the following:
- Four-year rule reviews on administrative chapters involving classroom teacher certification standards, principal certification, and superintendent certification. Notice of the proposed reviews will be published in the Texas Register, and public comment for these chapters will run from March 18 through April 18, 2022.
- Amendments to update how individuals can petition SBEC for rulemaking to align with the SBOE and Commissioner processes, make technical clarifications, and allow for electronic filing of petitions. Notice of the proposed amendments will be published in the Texas Register, and public comment for this proposal will run from March 18 through April 18, 2022.
The board also took the following actions at its February meeting:
- Preliminary approval of rule revisions to update the courses teachers can teach based on their certification to align with new courses adopted by the SBOE and make other additions and technical edits. Public comment on these revisions can be submitted from April 18 to March 18, 2022. Notice will be published in the Texas Register.
- Approval of the 2020-21 accreditation statutes for EPPs, which were all rated “Not Rated: Declared State of Disaster” unless they had improved their performance between the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years and were rated “Accredited.”
- Approval of the 2020-21 EPP commendations, which provide special recognition of program performance in rigorous and robust preparation, preparing the educators Texas needs, and preparing educators for long-term success. In an early morning subgroup meeting Friday, the board considered commendations for a fourth category – innovative educator preparation. The board approved the commendations for this fourth category during Friday’s regular meeting. Commendations are posted on the TEA website.
Finally, the board discussed an update to educational aide certification requirements for high school students who participate in industry-based certification within the education and training field. The change would align with recent course additions approved by the SBOE.
The next SBEC meeting will be held April 29, 2022.
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