New Standards for Teacher Certification

The Texas Board for Educator Certification voted on February 11th to adopt new teacher certification standards.  This new assessment is not a one-time exam like the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities test but a multi-step process known as edTPA: Educative Teacher Performance Assessment.  It was created by the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity, and it requires that individuals create a portfolio documenting their student teaching experience.  This includes videos of themselves teaching and a written reflection evaluating the students’ learning, their own effectiveness, and their ability to improve and differentiate instruction in response to student needs.

The Texas PPR test has been around for decades and has long been recognized as in need of improvement.  However, its replacement comes with concerns of its own.  It is significantly more expensive than the PPR by about $200.  And if a person needs to resubmit part or all of their portfolio, the fees to do so would range from $100 to $300.  Both the extra cost and the extra time and resources it requires to create an extensive portfolio may be a deterrent for some candidates.  And at a time when Texas is in dire need of more teachers, this new assessment may become a setback to staffing classrooms.

That said, it must also be noted that some teachers don’t always have what it takes to successfully connect with and educate our kids.  A more extensive exam that requires more than multiple-choice responses could certainly help with finding highly qualified, motivated educators.  To date, an individual could ostensibly take an online course, pass the PPR, and—ta da!—they’re a certified teacher.  edPTA could better prepare applicants for the realities of the classroom, including curriculum, engagement, and management.  In a profession notorious for the fact that most new recruits resign within the first few years, a vetting process that purposefully looks for competency and talent could be very helpful in teacher retention.

For now, edTPA is optional and student teachers can still choose to take the PPR instead.  However, the current plan is to phase it in as a replacement for the PPR over the next three years.  Certification candidates will be required to submit a portfolio for the edTPA assessment starting in the 2023-24 school year, and submission of a complete portfolio will be considered passing.  But in 2024-25, portfolios will begin to be evaluated and scored, and student teachers will need to meet or exceed the cut score to pass edTPA.

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