TCTA urged the State Board for Educator Certification in testimony to increase the number of training hours required for candidates from trade and industry professions seeking a new Trade and Industrial Workforce Training certificate. When the item was presented for discussion at the board’s Dec. 8, 2017, meeting, TCTA pointed out that the proposal for a floor of 200 hours total of training for the new certificate fell far short of what an educator preparation program could reasonably be able to accomplish and failed to sufficiently cover important topics that go to the heart of teaching, such as the relevant TEKS, classroom management skills, instruction of students with dyslexia, and knowledge of students and student learning.

At TCTA’s suggestion, the board directed TEA staff to seek stakeholder input from educator preparation programs with experience in this area to determine how many more hours would reasonably be needed to sufficiently cover the curriculum. The revised proposal is next expected to be presented to SBEC at its March 2018 meeting.

The proposal came before the board at its October and December meetings as a result of legislation passed in 2017 requiring SBEC to establish an abbreviated educator preparation program for individuals with a high school diploma seeking a new Trade and Industrial Workforce Training certificate. TCTA opposed the bill during the legislative session.

Current SBEC rules require all educator preparation programs to offer at least 300 hours of coursework and/or training for all classroom teacher certificates. Current rules require that, of the 300 hours minimum, 180 must be completed prior to any clinical teaching or internship. Of the 180 hours, the rules require at least 150 hours to address a list of specified topics, and at least 30 hours of field-based experience. 

Although, commendably, the Trade and Industrial Workforce Training certificate would be subject to the same 180-hour requirement, the total number of training hours proposed for the training program would only be a minimum of 200 hours, potentially allowing only 20 hours for educator preparation programs to cover a long list of educator preparation program curriculum requirements specified in current rule.

TCTA pointed out that, although the 200-hour training requirement for the new certificate is a minimum, it is important for SBEC to set the bar higher in the acknowledgment that it is not reasonable to assume that anyone could be properly trained in topics that are fundamental to teaching in only 20 hours. Reminding the board of its mission statement that SBEC is dedicated to upholding the highest levels of educator preparation, TCTA emphasized that this was particularly important to consider when deliberating training requirements for certification candidates with high school degrees coming from the trade and industry sector who could end up teaching courses that count for high school credit. 

Other action

Also during the Dec. 8 SBEC meeting, TCTA testified against a proposal to revise superintendent certificate rules which would allow a school district to hire a candidate with no principal certificate or public education experience before the candidate became certified as a superintendent.  In response, the board voted not to pursue revising the superintendent certificate rules at this time.

Finally, TCTA successfully ensured that proposed security rules for educator assessment, which were intended to curb cheating on certification exams, were sufficiently narrowed to avoid sanctioning educators who legitimately engage in certification test preparation. TCTA offered, and the State Board for Educator Certification adopted, suggested substitute language to address only those educators/candidates who solicit information about the contents of a certification exam that the educator/candidate has not already taken from someone who has access to the exam items, or who offer information about the content of a certification exam to persons who have not yet taken the exam. 

TCTA expressed concern that the original proposal providing possible sanctions for anyone soliciting information about the contents of a certification exam could include legitimate test review strategies, such as discussion about the types of questions that a test taker may encounter on the exam, and may inadvertently address legitimate discussion that can occur between two candidates who have taken the test (i.e., “Boy I really struggled with question x. Did you get that one? What did you think?”)