In 2016, The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) passed the largest number of regulations in recent history.
These are changes that both administrators and prospective teachers MUST be aware of.
The effects will likely become apparent in the 2017 hiring season and impact those in the process of becoming a teacher in Texas. In 2018, districts will fully realize the consequences of the legislation on hiring and retaining sufficient staffing levels among teaching ranks.
Here is a look at some of the issues that will be faced as these new laws are instituted.
Content Demonstration through Testing
The biggest change in the rules for aspiring new Texas teachers and hiring districts relates to the demonstration of content knowledge, a requirement of all new teachers.
Previously, a district could hire a new teacher based on the prospect’s educational background. The rule required essentially the equivalent of a major in the subject to be taught. Then, the newly hired teacher was required to take the content test during the probationary teaching period in order to earn a standard Texas teaching certification.
The Logistics of Testing
Under the new rule, all teachers will have to pass the content test prior to the probationary teaching period.
It is generally agreed that a new teacher should be able to pass a content exam prior to teaching, however, the logistics of testing for teacher certification throws a wrench in the works.
In May, June and July, testing centers are very busy, and the wait time to sit for a content exam could be a couple of months or more.
These prime months represent the peak season for hiring among school districts. So, if a new teacher prospect lacks the correct content exam, and the school needs a teacher quickly, a substitute teacher becomes the inevitable solution (perhaps the same person that is trying to schedule that content test).
Many teaching assignments require multiple content areas, or supplemental areas (which also require passed tests). This compounds the problem and unequally affects high need areas, such as Bilingual Education and Special Education.
In Texas, all bilingual certified teachers must pass at least three exams before they can teach in a bilingual environment. Many Special Education teachers must pass two or more.
Another issue is raised in the test administration schedule...Foreign language, language proficiency and English exams for high school teachers are only available during short administration windows. In 2016-2017, these windows opened in January, March, May, September, and November.
That sounds like a lot of opportunities, until you consider that each window of time was 7 to 10 days in length. And, if a test is failed, a significant waiting period is reinforced before it may be reattempted.
ECAP has found some solutions for the 2017-2018 school year to help school districts with staffing troubles related to the new rules, but these fixes are temporary.
Each district is independently responsible for interpreting rule and setting policy, but ECAP is in the unique position to monitor the ways that districts compensate or resolve these issues and to advise others in the methods that resolve or minimize the unintended consequences, yet adhere to the letter and spirit of the law.
If you want to teach Bilingual or Special Education, talk to ECAP to realize your maximum potential in the job market.
For District Human Resource Specialists, call us to discuss what the other districts are doing. We already have a few cards up our sleeve. Feel free to contact us to find out what they are.
Scott is the Deputy Executive Director and Program Consultant. Scott earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology from Texas Women's University and a Master of Education from Texas Women's University. Scott has extensive experience in both the classroom and as an administrator in districts in North Texas.
Connect with ECAP
7166 Baker Blvd., Suite B · Richland Hills, Texas 76118 Phone 817-284-7731 | Fax 817-284-3396