During a recent effort to revise State Board for Educator Certification rules regarding continuing professional education requirements for standard teacher certificate renewal, TCTA was instrumental in ensuring that teachers continue to have as much flexibility as possible in selecting which CPE opportunities they pursue. 

TCTA has consistently guarded against attempts by legislators to set state-level dictates for the types of professional learning in which teachers are required to engage, asserting that teachers, as professionals, must be able to self-select the opportunities that they most need. In working with legislators and Texas Education Agency staff, TCTA has successfully kept mandated topics for professional development/CPE to a minimum. 

Texas Education Code Section 21.054 requires SBEC to establish rules for identifying continuing education courses and programs that fulfill requirements for certificate renewal. SBEC long ago adopted rules requiring that classroom teachers acquire 150 hours of CPE every five years for certificate renewal. SBEC rules also set out a list of very general CPE topics that teachers acquire (content area knowledge and skills, and professional ethics, for example).

However, Section 21.054 has been consistently amended over the years as legislators have passed bills adding new CPE topics. In working with these legislators, TCTA has ensured that the provisions are worded in a way that provides for as much flexibility for a teacher as possible. A key example is in Section 21.054(d), which provides that continuing education requirements for classroom teachers must provide that “not more than 25%” of the training required every five years include a list of specified topics.

This particular section of the law has proved to be very popular with legislators. In 2017, no fewer than four bills passed amending Section 21.054 and expanding the list of topics in the “no more than 25%” list. Recently, some of the legislative authors of these bills noted that there is no requirement in SBEC rules that teachers must spend a certain amount of time on each of the listed topics, so ostensibly a teacher could spend no time on some of the topics. Discussion began about specifying a minimum amount of time that must be spent on each topic (as long as it didn’t amount to more than 25% of the total CPE requirement). TCTA was quick to engage on the issue, pointing out that it appeared that the real goal was to ensure that teachers spend some time on each topic, and suggesting broader language to accomplish that goal. Instead of proposing rules that specified minimum amounts of time for each topic, the proposal simply requires teachers to spend some time (as determined by the teacher) on each of the topics. SBEC adopted the proposal at its December 2017 meeting.

TCTA will continue to look for ways to enable teachers to be the key determinants of their own professional learning, as one of the hallmarks of a true profession.

For more on SBEC's Dec. 8, 2017, meeting, click here.