The Texas State Board of Teacher Certification recently passed a new teacher certification exam called edTPA. In appearance, this is something that the state should welcome – improving the quality of the teaching staff – this is a noble idea. But there is a serious problem. The timing and negative potential impact of this new exam on teachers ’workforce is not in line with the realities of Texas public schools, especially in the midst of a pandemic.
The goal of any teacher certification exam is to provide the state with quality teachers in every classroom, but our state has struggled to provide enough quality teachers before the pandemic. This has disproportionately affected urban and rural schools with a higher percentage of low-income students and colored students. Adding a new exam will not improve this long-standing problem. In fact, it can be argued that this is contrary to the goals of the state.
Any adjustment to the certification policy should take into account the state’s demand for the supply of quality teachers. A policy of common sense during a pandemic and a surge in teacher dismissals would be to reduce the cost of teacher certification, which could be an obstacle for qualified candidates. However, adopting edTPA would increase the financial burden for novice teachers because the exam costs $ 311, which in addition to other fees or alternative teacher training programs.
The new exam may also reduce the supply and diversity of the teaching workforce in other problematic ways. A recent edTPA study in Washington found that Hispanic teachers are three times more likely than their peers to fail the exam, which would mean that these candidates either take the test several times for an additional cost or will not be able to obtain certification. At the very least, this should raise concerns about potential testing failures, especially in a state where nearly 30% of teachers identify themselves as Hispanic.
Only 18 states have taken this exam, and some have already canceled it due to implementation problems. Texas needs to consider this. Moreover, researchers are cautious in drawing some broad conclusions about the predicted validity of an exam – the degree to which certification will improve student achievement. So why would Texas choose to implement this in a pandemic setting and without accurate research to suggest that it will have a positive impact on teachers ’workforce?
As education researchers, we are not sure. At a minimum, the state should postpone any edTPA decisions for several years until the pandemic subsides. Instead, policymakers should consider other measures to improve teachers ‘workforce, such as waiving the cost of teacher certification exams, raising teachers’ salaries, and supporting counties with substitute teacher coverage so teachers do not have to overload multiple classrooms when a colleague is ill. . with COVID.
In these circumstances, there was no need to move forward with edTPA, and the state should reconsider this decision. Instead, Texas needs a policy of common sense to fill teacher vacancies, support the current workforce, and retain teachers who are increasingly seeking to leave the profession.
David DeMatyuse is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas at Austin.
Christopher P. Brown is Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas at Austin.