Could a new certification exam help Texas’ teacher shortage?

Published: May. 2, 2022 at 9:34 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - A state board voted in favor of adopting a new, more rigorous teacher certification exam in Texas. The Educative Teacher Performance Assessment, also known as the edTPA exam must be approved by the State Board of Education before it’s officially adopted.

Brian Lopez, a public education reporter for the Texas Tribune, joined First News at Four to discuss why proponents argue this will help the teacher shortage and why critics worry about how this will impact people of color.

Currently, teachers in Texas are required to take the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities exam, a 100-question multiple-choice test, which has about a 96% pass rate. In comparison, the edTPA exam is more performance-based, with instructors having to do things such as submit a video of their teaching, create lesson plans, and write reflections on their students’ progress.

The people who want to move to the edTPA exam argue that the PPR exam is too easy to pass. While the edTPA exam may be more difficult to pass, proponents believe it could actually be the answer to the teacher shortage in Texas.

Lopez explained that with the edTPA exam you “can kind of analyze what a teacher is good at, what they might be lacking in some aspects, so that way down the line, they don’t feel overwhelmed and leave the profession.”

Opponents point to states where it has been implemented ultimately deciding to scrap the exam. In these states, it was also found to have a lower pass rate with Hispanic and black teaching candidates. Some critics believe the teaching certification exam should be Texas-specific, which the edTPA exam is not.

According to Lopez “there are studies out there that say states with the edTPA in place actually don’t retain as many teachers as we would want to happen, but the state says that other places haven’t done it as Texas is doing.”

For the past three years, Texas has had some programs that are piloting the new assessment. According to Lopez for the first couple of years, the assessment will be easier to pass.

If passed by the State Board of Education it will be rolled out in a phased approach with the test being optional in 2022-23, pass/fail in 2023-24, and fully implemented in 2024-25.

Read Lopez’s article on edTPA here.

Watch the full interview in the player above.

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