March 9, 2022

David DeMatthews and Christopher P. Brown: New teacher certification exam Will hurt Texas education

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Two professors from the University of Texas at Austin point out that adding edTPA to the teacher certification process is the wrong move.

The Texas State Board for Educator Certification recently adopted a new teacher certification exam, called edTPA.

On the surface, this is something the state should be applauded for – increasing the quality of the teacher workforce is a noble idea. But there is a major problem. The timing and negative potential impact of this new exam on the teacher workforce is out of step with the realities of Texas public schools, particularly in the midst of the pandemic.

The goal of any teacher certification exam is to ensure the state has quality teachers in every classroom, but our state has struggled to ensure an adequate supply of quality teachers even before the pandemic. This has disproportionality affected urban and rural schools with higher percentages of low-income students and students of color.

Adding a new exam will not improve this longstanding problem. In fact, one could argue it works against the state’s goals.

Any certification policy adjustment must consider the state’s demand for a supply of quality teachers. A commonsense policy during a pandemic and surge of teacher resignations would be to lower the cost of teacher certification, which could be a barrier for qualified applicants. Yet, the adoption of edTPA would increase financial burdens on aspiring teachers because the exam costs $311, which is on top of other fees or alternative teacher preparation programs.

In fact, an aspiring teacher completing a bachelor’s degree can now expect to pay more than $700 in fees to cover the certification exam and other needed things such as fingerprinting.

The new exam also could reduce the supply and diversity of the teacher workforce in another problematic way. A recent study of edTPA in Washington state concluded that Hispanic teachers were three times as likely as their peers to fail the exam, which would mean these candidates would either take the test multiple times at an added expense or would be unable to receive a certification.

Read the full op-ed here.

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