The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) met today to discuss a special rule to address educator preparation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The board met previously in June to discuss proposed rule text that would allow for virtual completion of field-based experiences and clinical experiences to satisfy educator preparation requirements. The proposed rule text limited these provisions to the 2020-21 school year and limited the virtual observations to synchronous environments (where the observer must be in the virtual classroom with the student teacher for live instruction).
This proposal was met with concern from educator preparation programs (EPPs), whose representatives expressed that many school districts are planning to use both synchronous and asynchronous learning models, while others are still deciding. Furthermore, EPPs are unsure of how districts will handle visitor policies, which could impact field supervisors’ ability to observe candidates. Other voiced concerns included obtaining the media releases necessary for student faces to be included on video used by educator candidates as they meet their program requirements. ATPE participated in a stakeholder workgroup with Texas Education Agency (TEA) staff as they worked through these concerns in preparation for today’s meeting, taking the position that high-quality clinical experiences are essential for educator preparation and that any changes made to allow virtual experiences should be time-limited.
TEA staff presented the following alternative rule language to address EPP concerns, which was approved by the board:
This new rule text adopted by SBEC today will provide increased flexibility for educator candidates as EPPs work with districts. The changes are still limited to the 2020-21 school year. TEA staff said they will work with EPPs to ensure that virtual experiences for candidates are as high-quality as possible, expressing their belief that other flexibility for educator preparation is not necessary at this time.
The next regularly scheduled SBEC meeting will take place on October 9, 2020.