AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Prospective teachers in Texas might have to undergo a more rigorous certification process after a state board voted to adopt a new certification assessment.
The State Board for Educator Certification voted 8-1 on Friday to adopt the Educative Teacher Performance Assessment, also known as the edTPA exam. That board is responsible for setting the standards of preparation, certification and conduct of public school professionals.
This decision still needs the final approval of the State Board of Education before the certification requirements officially change. The board is expected to consider the edTPA exam in a June meeting.
If approved, the edTPA would replace a test that has certified Texas teachers since 2002. The Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities exam, or PRR, is a series of 100 multiple-choice questions. The edTPA is much more intensive — it requires student teachers to submit a 15-minute video of themselves lecturing in the classroom, provide a sample lesson and answer essay questions. The test can cost upward of $300, which opponents say is another additional barrier this test could create.
Proponents of the new licensing program say it yields higher quality teachers by giving the state a more holistic look at their strengths and weaknesses.
In an email statement, TEA spokesperson Jake Kobersky said the board’s vote “affirms Texas’ commitment to providing teacher candidates with strong, supportive preparation that ensures candidates have demonstrated the knowledge and skills necessary to improve the performance of the diverse student population of Texas.”
It comes at a time when the state is already facing challenges finding teachers.
So far in the 2021-22 school year, there’s already been a 90% increase in the number of Texas teachers who have broken their contract, compared with the preceding school year, according to the Texas Education Agency. School districts are not required to report every complaint of teachers abandoning their contracts to the TEA, so the number could be higher.
Dean DeMatthews, an adjunct professor of education at UT-Austin, said he is worried about the implications this could have on prospective teachers.
“All these things are happening at a time where a lot fewer young people are interested in going into undergraduate teacher education programs and being teachers,” he said. “And where there’s an exodus of teachers from the profession for a variety of reasons…so I think it’s just it’s really bad timing.”
A study from the University of Illinois evaluated four states that have already integrated using edTPA for licensing teachers — Georgia, New York, Washington and Wisconsin. The study found edTPA reduced new teacher hires by a magnitude between 21.6% and 58.6%. It also showed in those states, the number of new Black hires was reduced.
“It’s been around for a while and it’s still an open question about whether or not this certification exam has any benefit for kids, which I think at this point should raise a red flag,” DeMatthews said.
The edTPA has already been scrapped in Washington and New York, after being required in 2014.