Thursday, March 21, 2013

Texas Bill Will Enact Educator Certification Testing

Parents tend to trust that those people we hired to educate our children are qualified to do so. A bill proposed to the Texas House of Representatives by Mike Villarreal (D- District 123, San Antonio)  may better insure that trust.

HB 3484 will require comprehensive examinations for education professionals in order for them to be and remain certified educators within the state. The bill, if passed, will require the state board of education to establish minimum requirements for each category or class of teacher at appropriate levels. It appears, for example, that the minimum proficiency standards for an elementary school teacher will be different from those required of a high school teacher.

If passed, HB 3484 may better enable school choice legislation and parental decisions in regards to their students. It will give parents as well as governing board officials a more clear metric on potential performance. Used properly, if school choice programs are enacted, parents will be better informed when deciding which school best fits their goals for their children.

Other factors do need to be considered, however. Just because the average grade level proficiency in one school is higher than that of the teachers in another doesn't mean the teachers are necessarily more effective teachers. Somebody with a PhD may be well above the minimum proficiency but may be so far above that they have difficulty relating the material to students.

Opponents of School Choice may claim that this bill would negate the necessity for school choice, stating that it will improve all standards for professional educators. This "cookie-cutter" ideology attempts to marginalize parental rights. The education of our children it the ultimate responsibility of the parents until the children reach the age where they undertake the responsibility themselves.

The other effects the bill may precipitate may include future changes in how teachers' salaries are calculated, giving higher wages and compensations to those who perform better on the certification tests. This will make the education industry more competitive leading to better quality teachers in all segments of the industry:  public, charter, parochial, and private schools.

Here is the bill:

relating to requirements for state educator certification examinations. 
       SECTION 1.  Section 21.048(a), Education Code, is amended to read as follows: 
       (a)  The board shall propose rules prescribing comprehensive examinations for each class of certificate issued by the board. The rules must: 
             (1)  require each educator to perform satisfactorily on each section of an examination for an educator to be considered to have performed satisfactorily on the examination as a whole; and 
             (2)  establish for each examination a rigorous minimum score indicating satisfactory performance. 
       SECTION 2.  Not later than January 1, 2014, the State Board for Educator Certification shall propose rules relating to certification examinations as provided by Section 21.048(a), Education Code, as amended by this Act. 
       SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution.  If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2013.