The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) met today in Austin and proposed several changes to their administrative rules, which govern the education profession. The board is proposing rewrites to 19 TAC Chapters 227, 228 and 229 relating to educator preparation; some of the rewrites were prompted by the passage of House Bill (HB) 2012 last year.
Ch. 227, which outlines the minimum criteria for admission to an educator preparation program, garnered the most discussion. Board members expressed concern over the minimum GPA requirements and the number of college credit hours required in the content area in which certification is sought. ATPE testified before the board, urging them to consider raising the minimum GPA from 2.5 to 2.75. Although the board has required a 2.5 minimum GPA, with certain exceptions, for several years now, there was no statutory requirement for a minimum GPA until last year.
HB 2012 now requires SBEC to set a minimum GPA for educator certification candidates, which can be as high as 2.75, depending on the board’s discretion. Staff members from the Texas Education Agency recommended, based on stakeholder discussions with educator preparation program directors and principals, that SBEC keep its minimum GPA rule at 2.5. After hearing our testimony and discussing the issue at length today, the board voted to change the 2.5 GPA requirement to a minimum 2.75. Several board members, including Brad Allard, Kathryn Everest, Christie Pogue and Suzanne McCall, spoke eloquently about the need to take pride in and maintain high standards for the profession.
Under the new proposal, which will come up for a final vote by the board in August after a public comment period, exceptions in the rule will still allow teachers who cannot meet the 2.75 overall GPA to demonstrate a 2.75 GPA in their last 60 semester credit hours and also allow educator preparation programs to continue to waive the GPA requirement for up to ten percent of each cohort.
The proposed increase in the GPA requirement is a victory for ATPE and other groups that have long advocated for higher standards and more selective recruitment of teachers in Texas. Research shows that the U.S. lags in student achievement measures behind other countries that allow only top students to pursue teacher certification. Raising the standards for admission also elevates the prestige of the profession, which may also help to secure better compensation for teachers in the future.
In other business, the board approved relatively minor changes to disciplinary decision-making guidelines, current accountability ratings for educator preparation programs and standards for newly created certificates for grades 6–12 in areas of Business and Finance, Health Science, Marketing, and Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.