TCTA Director of Professional Development and Advocacy Holly Eaton gave invited testimony about reducing teacher training requirements to the Senate Education Committee on Oct. 14, 2020, as a subgroup leader of a Teacher Workforce Workgroup convened by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office.

The workgroup was formed in response to the Senate Education Committee’s interim charge to review existing teacher continuing education requirements, professional development and training for teachers; and to examine whether the requirements are appropriate or should be reduced, eliminated or increased. During a seven-month process, the workgroup conducted a thorough review of teacher training requirements and arrived at 35 recommendations to revise statute or TEA rule and establish fewer but more meaningful teacher requirements, enabling educators to more freely select training opportunities to improve their craft. 

TCTA’s testimony centered on some of the major themes that emerged during the workgroup’s deliberations. (Click here to watch the testimony, which begins at 1:30:20 into the session.) The workgroup concluded that it would benefit educators and school districts for the State Board for Educator Certification to create a clearinghouse of all training requirements, and, rather than have varying frequency requirements in statute, recommend that the clearinghouse include research-driven, best-practice programs and industry-informed frequency recommendations for training. Additionally, local school districts would annually review and adopt professional learning policies guided by the clearinghouse, but tailored to local boards’ preferences as to how often training should be provided.

The workgroup’s review also noted the duplication of training topics in different sections of law, including statutory provisions for educator continuing education for certificate renewal and in provisions for required training provided by school districts. TCTA testified that the workgroup looked at whether a given topic was more a function of working in a school and with students in general, or more for purposes of honing one’s craft (closely tied to instructional practice) for continuing education for certificate renewal. Using this guidepost, the workgroup concluded that a number of topics should be eliminated from continuing education for certificate renewal because they are covered more thoroughly, and with potential funding available, in statutory provisions for district-required training. This, in turn, would free up time for educators to pursue professional learning more relevant to honing their craft for purposes of certificate renewal. 

TCTA has long advocated for reduced teacher training requirements, especially because those requirements have been layered on over the years with few, if any, being eliminated. The workgroup expects to issue a final report in November, with a goal of translating the recommendations into legislation to be considered during the 2021 session. TCTA will continue to report on the progress of the recommendations as they develop.