Every session, teacher training is seen as a remedy for some of the most problematic aspects of public education, and every session TCTA spends many hours with well-meaning legislators to try to mitigate the impact of these increasing demands on teacher time.

Let us be clear — we agree that the topics that teachers must be trained on under state law address very important issues. But TCTA has growing concerns that (a) teachers, as professionals, are not being given opportunities to select the type of training that is most useful for them, and (b) the growing list of required training is becoming excessive and frequently repetitive, leaving less time for self-selected professional development opportunities.

We succeeded in reducing required training in many proposals that were considered, but there were still a number of changes to training requirements that passed in the 2019 session.

  • HB 18 (comprehensive mental health legislation) includes several training provisions:
    • Provides that instruction for teacher certification candidates must include effective strategies for teaching and intervening with students with mental health conditions or who engage in substance abuse.
    • Lifts the cap on required topics for continuing professional education (CPE) by providing that “at least” 25% of CPE (previous law said “no more than” 25%) must address certain topics, and that list of topics was expanded considerably.
    • New required topics for teacher CPE include educating diverse student populations, including Section 504-eligible students, students with mental health conditions or who engage in substance abuse, and students with intellectual or developmental disabilities; and how mental health conditions including grief and trauma affect student learning and behavior.
    • New required topics for counselor CPE include counseling students concerning mental health conditions and substance abuse, and how to effectively implement a comprehensive school counseling program.
    • Includes positive behavior intervention and support in the discretionary staff development provided by school districts.
    • Requires districts to provide training for teachers not primarily working in special education to address instruction of students with disabilities who also have other intellectual or mental health conditions, if the educator does not have the knowledge and skills necessary to implement a student’s IEP.
    • Requires districts to train educators on recognizing signs of mental health conditions and substance abuse, strategies for maintaining positive relationships among students, understanding how grief/trauma affect student learning and behavior, and issues related to bullying.
    • Requires that suicide prevention training for employees must include assisting students in returning to school following treatment of a mental health concern or suicide attempt.
  • SB 11 (comprehensive school safety bill) also includes multiple new requirements:
    • Adds grief and trauma issues to the required topics for teacher CPE.
    • Requires districts’ multihazard operations plans to provide for training in responding to an emergency (including training for substitute teachers), and requires the plans to include training in integrating psychological safety and suicide prevention strategies.
    • Requires districts to adopt a policy requiring integration of trauma-informed practices, which must include training to increase staff awareness of trauma-informed care.
  • HB 111 adds to already-required training on recognition and prevention of sexual abuse/maltreatment of children to specify that children with significant cognitive disabilities must be included among the children whom the training addresses.
  • HB 684 requires nurses and other school employees whose duties include regular contact with students to complete a TEA-approved online course regarding managing students with seizure disorders. TEA has now listed approved courses on its Healthy and Safe School Environment page

We will include more details on new training requirements in upcoming publications, including the status of any implementation rules being considered by SBEC and when you can expect to see the new requirements in action.