Tag Archives: practicum

SBEC meets to discuss COVID-19 considerations for certification candidates

SBEC holds a special virtual meeting, June 11, 2020.

The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) met off their normal schedule today to discuss a new coronavirus-inspired rule regarding face-to-face requirements for certification candidates in educator preparation programs. View the agenda from today’s SBEC meeting here.

Candidates in educator preparation programs complete experiences such as internships, clinical teaching, practicums, and field-based experiences that involve face-to-face interactions with teachers, students, and observers. These experiences are crucial for candidates to practice pedagogical skills and get real exposure to what school environments are like, including the many unexpected aspects of daily life as an educator. The COVID-19 pandemic made these in-person experiences unsafe and impractical, which prompted the issuance of waivers from the governor’s office this spring.

Current waivers for educator candidate experiences during the pandemic only impact candidates who are completing experiences in 2019-20 and for candidates who are beginning such experiences in 2020-21. The waivers will stay in effect only as long as Gov. Greg Abbott’s disaster declaration is in place. For this reason, SBEC board members met today to consider a new rule today that would effectively allow for virtual practices with regard to certification candidate experiences. This unique provision would be limited to the 2020-21 academic year and would expire with no additional action by the board.

The rule discussed by the board today specifically states that “for the 2020-2021 academic year, actual school settings and authentic school settings may include campuses with a traditional, in-person setting that are temporarily functioning in a virtual setting and face-to-face settings for observations may include synchronous virtual settings.” With this change, internships, clinical teaching experiences, field-based experiences, teacher observations, and practicums could take place in a virtual setting during the upcoming academic year. Referring to synchronous virtual settings, the rule allows for observations to take place in which the candidate and observer are both in a virtual classroom setting at the same time, rather than the observer being able to watch a video of the educator after the fact (asynchronous).

Two representatives from the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Jill Marshall and Dr. Michael Marder, testified today about how the changes would impact their educator preparation programs. Dr. Marshall expressed support for the proposal, but she also voiced concerns with synchronous observations and related issues such as school district permissions, student privacy, and inequitable candidate access to technology. Dr. Marder echoed Dr. Marshall’s concerns, expressing that both asynchronous and synchronous video would better serve students and suggesting alternative rule language for the board to consider. Staff of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) indicated that the inclusion of the word “synchronous” was meant to mirror the current face-to-face requirements of teacher observation, and the board did not make any changes to the proposed rule text.

SBEC voted to approve the proposed rule amendment today, which will now be posted in the Texas Register and available for public comment from June 26 to July 27, 2020. On July 31, the board will meet again to review the rule and, if finally approved, the rule will take effect Oct. 15, 2020.

During today’s virtual meeting, the board also introduced its two new members recently appointed by Gov. Abbott, Julia Dvorak (formerly Julia Moore) and Jean Streepey. As we previously reported here on Teach the Vote, Streepey is a middle school math teacher in Highland Park ISD (Dallas). Dvorak of Pflugerville is a consultant who works for a lobby and public relations firm that has represented organizations and candidates advocating for private school vouchers.

The next regularly scheduled SBEC meeting is set for July 24, 2020. For more information on the coronavirus pandemic, be sure to check out ATPE’s Coronavirus FAQ and Resources page.

Texas educator preparation and testing in viral limbo

Uncertainty around educator preparation and testing in Texas during the novel coronavirus pandemic has left some aspiring and current educators wondering, “What’s next?” In this Teach the Vote blog post, we will cover what we know so far about educator preparation and what questions we still need answered.

Certification Testing Changes

Last month, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) posted a notice of the cancellation of educator certification examinations slated for March 17 through April 16, 2020. Pearson’s Texas educator certification website provides further information for educators whose tests were cancelled, including a listing of closed testing centers. TEA similarly announced that Performance Assessment for School Leaders (PASL) submission deadlines were being extended, with additional information available on the ETS performance assessment website here.

Pearson VUE, which administers the computer-based certification tests, also has a coronavirus-dedicated webpage with specific FAQs and information about rescheduling of the tests. In particular, the site explains that educator certification candidates can reschedule tests for dates starting May 1, 2020, and beyond, but this is subject to further orders or virus-related restrictions that may be issued by state and federal leaders. When rescheduling an exam, candidates will only be able to select from available dates at testing centers that are open, and all candidates are advised to contact testing centers before their test to ensure availability.

Other Certification Requirements

On TEA’s coronavirus Texas educator support webpage, educators can find other information about changes due to the virus, including an educator preparation FAQ and presentation. Importantly, Gov. Greg Abbott has waived impractical requirements for candidates who were completing clinical teaching, an internship, or a practicum this spring. These include face-to-face observations for those in a practicum, clinical teaching requirements based in school settings, and field supervision for interns. Additionally, the governor waived the requirement that 15 clock-hours of a field-based experience be conducted on a school campus for those completing their field-based experience this spring or summer. Find more information about eligibility for the waivers in the FAQ and Guidance section posted here.

Gov. Abbott has also waived the requirement that first-year teachers complete surveys related to their educator preparation programs, as well as the corresponding surveys that principals fill out about first-year teachers’ preparedness. This will certainly impact the state’s Accountability System for Educator Preparation (ASEP), as will interruptions to testing and candidate preparation. It is likely that the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) will be revisiting its rules to make potential changes regarding educator preparation.

Many questions remain regarding the impact to educator preparation and testing, especially as current educators are renewing their contracts and aspiring educators are hoping to find jobs. TEA staff have indicated they are working on a new FAQ document, but its release date is unclear. As the situation develops, stay tuned to the Teach the Vote blog and follow the ATPE Governmental Relations team on Twitter. Be sure also to visit ATPE’s Coronavirus FAQ and Resources page for frequently updated information designed to help educators during the pandemic.