TCTA testified at the May 18, 2018, State Board for Educator Certification meeting against a proposal to expand the types of certificates that could be obtained via a shortened educator preparation program. In response, although the board voted to advance the proposal, board members cautioned that they wanted a more thorough vetting of the expansion proposal with all interested stakeholders before the next board meeting when the proposal will be up for final adoption. 

In response to legislation passed in 2017, requiring SBEC to establish an abbreviated educator preparation program for a new Trade & Industrial Workforce Training certificate, the SBEC considered draft rule language to implement the requirement at its May meeting. 

Although original draft versions of the rule text presented to the board in December 2017 and March 2018 merely provided that the abbreviated program would require at least 200 hours total of training (all other teacher certification preparation programs require at least 300 hours of training), new language expanding the abbreviated program to Marketing and Health Science certificates was presented at the May meeting.

Additionally, the new proposal called for a reduction of pre-service training hours for these certification candidates from 180 to 110, and allowed for almost half of the training to be provided by an entity other than an approved educator preparation program (like school districts and CPE providers).

TCTA cautioned the board not to adopt the new language, given that it goes beyond the bounds of the plain language of the legislation, as well as expands situations in which teacher certification candidates receive significantly less training than has been traditionally required.  TCTA also expressed concern that, given that individuals pursuing the Trade/Industrial Workforce Training certificate may hold only high school diplomas and, though having work experience in their fields, are coming from fields far removed from education, it’s even more important that they receive sufficient pre-service training in order to be successful in the classroom. 

TCTA also pointed out that allowing almost half of the training to be provided by an entity other than an EPP raises significant policy issues regarding who has the responsibility to ensure that the training meets SBEC standards, who will be held accountable under the EPP accountability system for the preparedness of the certification candidates, and at what point does a training entity other than an EPP effectively become an EPP?

Finally, TCTA emphasized that, with all the loopholes around teacher certification available in Texas, including school district teaching permits, commissioner waivers, certification exemptions by Districts of Innovation, SBEC must maintain high standards in matters over which it has jurisdiction, including setting and overseeing educator preparation and certification standards for the profession of teaching.