November 2019 Committee on School Initiatives Item 5

Review of Proposed Amendments to 19 TAC Chapter 227, Provisions for Educator Preparation Candidates, Subchapter A, Admission to Educator Preparation Programs

November 15, 2019

COMMITTEE ON SCHOOL INITIATIVES: ACTION
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION: ACTION

SUMMARY:  This item provides the State Board of Education (SBOE) an opportunity to review the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) rule actions that would propose amendments to 19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 227, Provisions for Educator Preparation Candidates, Subchapter A, Admission to Educator Preparation Programs. The proposed amendments would implement the statutory requirements of Senate Bill (SB) 1839 and House Bills (HBs) 2039 and 3349, 85th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2017. The proposed amendments would add clarification for select definitions, would add language for admission requirements for the Early Childhood-Grade 3 (EC-3) and Trade and Industrial Workforce Training: Grades 6–12 certificates, and would clarify the implementation date in Subchapter A. The proposed amendments would implement subject-matter-only assessments to be used for the Pre-Admission Content Test (PACT) in lieu of the current examination that tests an applicant's knowledge of both content and pedagogy prior to admission to an educator preparation program (EPP). The proposed amendments would also implement changes based on stakeholder input and Texas Education Agency (TEA) staff recommendations.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY:  The statutory authority for 19 TAC Chapter 227, Subchapter A, is the Texas Education Code (TEC), §§21.031; 21.041(b)(1), (4), and (6); 21.044(a), (g)(2), and (g)(3); 21.0441; 21.0489(c), as added by SB 1839 and HB 2039, 85th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2017; 21.049(a); 21.050(a); 22.083; and 22.0835; and Texas Occupations Code (TOC), §§53.151, 53.152, 53.153, as added by HB 1508, 85th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2017. 

The full text of statutory citations can be found in the statutory authority section of this agenda.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The proposed effective date of the proposed amendments to 19 TAC Chapter 227, Subchapter A, would be December 22, 2019.

PREVIOUS BOARD ACTION:  None.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND JUSTIFICATION:  The SBEC rules in 19 TAC Chapter 227 are organized as follows: Subchapter A, Admission to Educator Preparation Programs, and Subchapter B, Preliminary Evaluation of Certification Eligibility. These subchapters provide for rules that establish requirements for admission to an EPP and preliminary evaluation of certification eligibility.

The following is a description of the proposed amendments to 19 TAC Chapter 227, Subchapter A.

§227.1. General Provisions.

The proposed amendment in §227.1(b) would change the word "should" to "shall" to clarify the responsibility of the program to inform all applicants that they must undergo a criminal history background check prior to employment as an educator and prior to clinical teaching. This change would ensure that all applicants are aware of these requirements before moving into a role with students. This change would also ensure that applicants are aware of their eligibility to serve in a role with students early in their teacher preparation process.

Technical edits would be made to define acronyms. 

§227.5. Definitions.

The proposed amendment to §227.5(5) would delete the phrase, "also known as a certification field," from the definition of certification category and would add language to reference Title 19 Chapter 233, which is where the certificate categories (English Language Arts and Reading; Social Studies, Special Education, and Health) can be found.

The proposed amendment in §227.5(6) would add the phrase, "may contain one or more certification categories," and delete the phrase, "also known as a certification field," to clarify that a class of certificates may contain one or more categories within a certification area. This change would better distinguish between a class and a category since a category is a subgroup of a class.  

The proposed amendment in §227.5(8) and §227.5(9) would update the definition for content certification examination and would create a new definition for content pedagogy examinations to distinguish that a standardized test or assessment required by statute or the SBEC that governs an individual's certification as an educator is different than the required standardized test or assessment required for EPP admission purposes.

These definitions would clarify that EPPs will use content certification examinations for admitting candidates into EPPs and content pedagogy examinations will be used for certificate issuance. These definitions would support the overall policy shift from using an examination that tests both pedagogy and subject matter knowledge for the PACT to using a subject-matter-only examination. This shift would allow the PACT to better mirror the coursework requirement for which it is a substitute and would make the PACT a more effective admission requirement because candidates should not be expected to understand pedagogy before they have begun their studies at an EPP. It is reasonable to assess only subject-matter knowledge for EPP admission purposes because it is the role of the EPP to teach the candidate pedagogy through coursework and training. 

The section would be renumbered accordingly for formatting purposes.

§227.10. Admission Criteria.

The proposed amendment in §227.10(a)(3)(B)(ii) and §227.10(a)(4)(C) would set admission criteria for applicants to pass an appropriate content certification examination. To meet admission eligibility requirements in an EPP, statute requires a candidate to have a 2.5 GPA and either 12 or 15 hours of subject-specific content area coursework in the area they are seeking certification, or to pass a content certification exam, known as the PACT option, to demonstrate content knowledge prior to preparation in that area. Currently, the exams used to satisfy the second option for admission purposes are the exams candidates take after receiving training in their EPP. The exams do not only cover content knowledge but also assess pedagogy (the "how to teach"), which is not appropriate since the candidates have not had the training or preparation in that area. The proposed rule text would replace these exams with subject-matter only exams to better reflect the statutory requirement of subject-specific coursework in the content area for certification and would remove the current requirement of testing a candidate's knowledge of pedagogy for PACT purposes. The designated content-only examinations would be set out in new Figure 19 TAC §227.10(a)(4)(C), which lists the appropriate subject-matter content certification examination for each certificate area. 

Since published as proposed, the implementation date of January 1, 2020 has been adjusted to January 27, 2020 to ensure that all assessments used for PACT purposes will be ready. 

At the April 26, 2019 SBEC meeting, the Board requested additional information on the impact of the PACT implementation date. The following describes the impact of the implementation date on candidates, EPPs, data collection, and program accountability. 

Impact of the Implementation on Candidates

The proposed PACT change would impact candidates in alternative certification or post-baccalaureate programs by not requiring them to take a content pedagogy exam prior to admission into an educator preparation program. Every time a candidate takes one of these tests for admission purposes, it counts against the five-time limit and a test fee is assessed for each retake. A candidate would only take an additional exam if the EPP requires it or if a candidate did not meet minimum requirements for GPA or semester credit hours in the subject-specific content area for the certification sought. This change would only adjust the timing and support for candidates and would not change the requirement that a candidate passes the content pedagogy assessment before becoming the teacher of record.

The proposed amendment would not impact candidates already admitted to EPPs. TEA staff also believes that there will be a positive impact on both candidates and districts as potential teachers will now be given support on their content pedagogy examinations. This should not impact district staffing because it does not add an additional requirement before a candidate can enter the classroom as the teacher of record.

Impact of the Implementation Date on EPPs

For preparation purposes, TEA staff believes that the proposed PACT would not require EPPs to provide additional curriculum. As prescribed in SBEC rule, the curricula that EPPs are expected to provide for each specific certification category include: the relevant Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), including the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) and the skills and competencies in the Texas teacher standards in 19 TAC Chapter 149, Commissioner's Rules Concerning Educator Standards, that include the standards of Instructional Planning and Delivery and Content Knowledge and Expertise.

EPPs submit aligned curriculum when requesting to offer a certification category. All EPPs that are approved to offer certification categories have already created and submitted their curricula for staff approval.

Staff does anticipate that some EPPs may need to increase the amount of time between EPP admission and recommending candidates for intern certifications to allow for content pedagogy alignment with coursework and training.  

Impact of the Implementation Date on Data Collection

TEA staff does not believe there would be an impact on the internal processes for data collection with this change. TEA staff already collects and calculates pass rates for certification examinations.

Impact of the Implementation Date on Program Accountability

The only impact to EPPs would be for SBEC accountability purposes. As required in statute and under SBEC rule, EPPs are currently held accountable for the candidates' pass rates on certification examinations. The examinations are categorized as either PPR (pedagogy and professional responsibilities) or non-PPR (content/content-pedagogy exams). EPPs are only held accountable for examinations after a candidate has been admitted as opposed to if they choose to require their candidates to take the PACT. The table below indicates where there might be a change to program accountability by type of program and assessment.

Program Accountability Changes by Program Type and Assessment

Program Type

Non-PPR

PPR

Traditional

None

None

Post-Baccalaureate

Yes, if they currently use PACT for admission

None

ACP

Yes, if they currently use PACT for admission

None

Traditional programs currently do not have the option of requiring the PACT for admission purposes and therefore, would not be impacted by the rule change. The proposed PACT change would only impact post-baccalaureate and alternative certification programs (ACP) that currently utilize the PACT route. In those cases, the programs will be held accountable for the content pedagogy test that they previously required for admission purposes. Programs currently utilizing PACT provide candidates support for the PPR test and also for the content pedagogy test when candidates change fields.

The proposed amendments would implement policy changes regarding the PACT, which is currently an examination testing both content and pedagogy that a candidate takes prior to admission into either an ACP or post-baccalaureate certification program. Negative consequences of the current PACT route pathway include: 

•    A candidate testing through the PACT route would not have obtained the required training to successfully complete questions that contain content pedagogy (the method and practice of teaching). For example, during the 2017–2018 reporting year, candidates in traditional routes passed the English Language Arts, EC–6 test at an 84% pass rate; candidates in alternative routes passed at an 86% pass rate; and candidates through the PACT route passed at a 67% pass rate. Candidate support provided by EPPs increases the likelihood of success on certification assessments. An increase in the number of candidates that are successful on certification assessments can lead to an increase in the number of qualified teachers.
•    Every test attempt through the PACT route counts toward a candidate's five-time test attempt limit since it is also the exam that a candidate takes at the end of his or her educator preparation to determine whether he or she is eligible for certification by the SBEC.
•    Traditional preparation programs do not currently have the option to use PACT, which means they are accountable for candidate scores on both the content pedagogy test and the PPR test, whereas some alternative and post-baccalaureate preparation programs are accountable only for the PPR test since the content pedagogy test was taken before candidates were admitted into the program.

To address these concerns, this proposed amendment to §227.10 would provide all programs, including traditional preparation programs, with the opportunity to use the PACT, now that it is a subject-matter-only examination, because traditional programs are also accepting students who are being prepared in their chosen content subject outside of the EPP. The requirements in TEC, §21.0441, provide the basis for the PACT examination as a substitute for a candidate completing hours of college coursework in the subject in which the candidate is seeking initial certification. Converting the PACT into a subject-matter-only examination would better mirror the statutorily required coursework for which it is intended as a substitute and would better reflect the skills a candidate should possess prior to entry into an EPP.

Only initial certifications that are subject-matter specific would have the option for PACT. For example, special education is a specialized pedagogical skill set that applies to all subject areas, so it does not lend itself to having a subject-matter only test. Additionally, due to the broad but basic content knowledge required in elementary education, the proposed amendment would use a basic skills assessment as the PACT assessment for those seeking elementary certifications. For the purposes of language assessments that draw a low number of test takers (e.g., Portuguese, Hindu, etc.), TEA staff proposes retaining the use of the current content pedagogy assessments as there was not a cost-effective alternative available.

Proposed new Figure §227.10(a)(4)(C) would provide the list of PACT assessments for their related certification area. The list would include assessments aligned to the TEKS in the related certification areas. The content certification (subject-matter only) examination would be open to all interested candidates, therefore, §227.10(a)(4)(D) would no longer be needed because the scores would carry over from one program to another. If a candidate wants to change content, they would take a different content exam for purposes of admission into the new EPP. The current testing vendor would provide the proposed assessments, which align with the TEKS. Standard setting committees were conducted in Spring of 2019 to determine the acceptable passing standard for admission purposes.

Proposed new §227.10(e) would create new admission requirements for the Trade and Industrial Workforce Training: Grades 6–12 certification to implement the statutory requirements prescribed in HB 3349, 85th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2017. This language would ensure a pathway is available for industry members to transition into an EPP.

Proposed new §227.10(g) would add requirements for currently certified educators to enroll in an Early Childhood: Prekindergarten–Grade 3 preparation program to implement the statutory requirements prescribed in SB 1839 and HB 2039, 85th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2017. This amendment would ensure that candidates currently certified to teach a grade level between early childhood and Grade 3 are required to enroll in an EPP if they would like to pursue the Early Childhood: Prekindergarten–Grade 3 certification. At the July 26, 2019 SBEC meeting, the Board adopted a change to add a reference to §228.35(i)(2) to clarify that the Early Childhood–Grade 3 certification is offered for initial and additional certification.

SBOE Review of Proposed SBEC Rules

Under the TEC, §21.042, the SBEC must submit a written copy of each rule it proposes to adopt to the SBOE for review.  The SBOE may reject the proposed rule by a vote of at least two-thirds of the members of the SBOE present and voting but may not modify a rule.

FISCAL IMPACT: No changes have been made to this section since published as proposed. The TEA estimates a cost of $128,909 for each of the next five fiscal years (FYs) from FYs 2020–2024 for the development and ongoing administrative costs needed to maintain assessments. However, the TEA will receive an $11 remittance for each PACT taken for an estimated total of $128,909 for FYs 2020–2024 to offset the costs. Based on the 2017–2018 testing data, the TEA estimated 11,719 test attempts under the PACT route. In most cases, because an EPP has a choice in their admission requirements, estimated costs to state government in this analysis do not include EPPs.

LOCAL EMPLOYMENT IMPACT: No changes have been made to this section since published as proposed. The proposal has no effect on local economy; therefore, no local employment impact statement is required under Texas Government Code (TGC), §2001.002.

SMALL BUSINESS, MICROBUSINESS, AND RURAL COMMUNITY IMPACT: No changes have been made to this section since published as proposed. The proposal has no direct adverse economic impact for small businesses, microbusinesses, or rural communities; therefore, no regulatory flexibility analysis, specified in TGC, §2006.002, is required. The TEA staff does not anticipate an adverse effect for EPPs as a result of this proposal, including EPPs that qualify as small businesses or microbusinesses. The TEA staff expects that these proposed rule changes may allow more candidates to qualify for admission into EPPs as a result of the new admission test requiring only subject-matter knowledge. If EPPs have been relying on the PACT for admission purposes, the increased revenue brought by more candidates may be offset to some extent by increased instructional costs. Even for these EPPs, the increase in instructional costs is not expected to be so significant as to negate the increase in revenue from the additional qualified candidates. The educator standards on which the EPPs' curriculum is based have not changed with these proposed amendments. Moreover, EPPs can implement their own admission screening requirements for those candidates who meet admission requirements for grade point average and the required hours of coursework.

COST INCREASE TO REGULATED PERSONS: No changes have been made to this section since published as proposed. The proposal does impose a cost on regulated persons (teacher candidates), another state agency, a special district, or a local government, and, therefore, is subject to TGC, §2001.0045. However, the proposal is exempt from TGC, §2001.0045, as provided under that statute, because the proposal is necessary to reduce the burden or responsibilities imposed on regulated persons. In addition, the proposal is necessary to ensure that certified Texas educators are competent to educate Texas students and, therefore, necessary to protect the safety and welfare of the residents of this state.

TAKINGS IMPACT ASSESSMENT: No changes have been made to this section since published as proposed. The proposal does not impose a burden on private real property and, therefore, does not constitute a taking under TGC, §2007.043.

GOVERNMENT GROWTH IMPACT: No changes have been made to this section since published as proposed. The TEA staff prepared a Government Growth Impact Statement assessment for this proposed rulemaking. The proposed rulemaking would require an increase in fees paid to the agency for each PACT taken ($11 per assessment), but those fees would be offset by the increased costs to the agency of developing and administering the new PACT. A new regulation in proposed §227.1(b) would require an EPP to inform all applicants that they must undergo a criminal history background check prior to employment as an educator and prior to clinical teaching. A new regulation in proposed new §227.10(a)(3)(B)(ii) and §227.10(a)(4)(C) would set admission criteria for applicants to pass an appropriate content certification examination, which would replace the certification examinations currently used for the PACT that tests a candidate's knowledge of both content and pedagogy. A new regulation in proposed new §227.10(e) would create new admission requirements for Trade and Industrial Workforce Training: Grade 6–12 certification program, and §227.10(g) would add requirements for currently certified educators to enroll in an Early Childhood: Prekindergarten–Grade 3 preparation program for candidates who want to pursue the Early Childhood: Prekindergarten–Grade 3 certification.

The proposed rulemaking would not create or eliminate a government program; would not require the creation of new employee positions or elimination of existing employee positions; would not require an increase or decrease in future legislative appropriations to the agency; would not require a decrease in fees paid to the agency; would not expand, limit, or repeal an existing regulation; would not increase or decrease the number of individuals subject to its applicability; and would not positively or adversely affect the state's economy.

PUBLIC BENEFIT AND COST TO PERSONS: No changes have been made to this section since published as proposed. The public and student benefit anticipated as a result of the proposal would broaden the pool of potential educators in Texas by allowing EPPs to admit educator candidates who are competent in the subject they wish to teach but are not already well-versed in pedagogy. It would also offer continued and clear guidance on processes and procedures for testing and certificate issuance.

The TEA staff has determined that there is a cost to individuals required to comply with the proposal. For admission to an EPP, candidates who have neither a 2.5 undergraduate grade point average nor the required number of hours of college coursework in the specific content area in which the candidate is seeking certification would have to take a new, additional content certification examination prior to admission. Previously, these candidates could simply take the examination required for final certification as an educator prior to admission. Under the proposed rules, these candidates take three examinations in the course of the educator preparation process: (1) a content certification examination before admission to an EPP and after completion of the EPP for certification as an educator, (2) the content pedagogy examination, and (3) the PPR EC–12 examination. The total estimated cost to persons to take the new PACT examination in addition to tests they currently have to take would be $1,242,214 for each of the next five FYs from FY 2020–2024. The cost is based on 11,719 possible examinees estimated to take the tests (using 2017–2018 data) at the price of $106 per test. The $106 total testing fee will be required from each candidate applying to take the content certification examination. The fee is needed to cover the administrative and maintenance cost.

DATA AND REPORTING IMPACT: No changes have been made to this section since published as proposed. The proposal would have no data and reporting impact.

PRINCIPAL AND CLASSROOM TEACHER PAPERWORK REQUIREMENTS: No changes have been made to this section since published as proposed. The TEA staff has determined that the proposal would not require a written report or other paperwork to be completed by a principal or classroom teacher.

PUBLIC COMMENTS:  In accordance with the SBEC rulemaking process, a summary of comments received by the SBEC on its proposed rules is shared with the SBOE under separate cover prior to this SBOE meeting.

MOTION TO BE CONSIDERED: The State Board of Education:

Take no action on the proposed amendments to 19 TAC Chapter 227, Provisions for Educator Preparation Candidates, Subchapter A, Admission to Educator Preparation Programs.

Staff Members Responsible:
Ryan Franklin, Associate Commissioner, Educator Leadership and Quality
Tam Jones, Director, Educator Preparation    

Attachment:           Text of Proposed Amendments to 19 TAC Chapter 227, Provisions for Educator Preparation Candidates, Subchapter A, Admission to Educator Preparation Programs, including Figure 19 TAC §227.10(a)(4)(C)