Waive the Science of Teaching Reading Exam (Texes 293) for Teacher Candidates

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The State of Texas and The Texas Education Agency passed a new testing requirement for educator certification in 2019 called the Science of Teaching Reading Exam (Texes 293). As it is currently written, any future educator who does not hold a standard certificate by 12/31/2020 will be required to take a pass this new exam in order to gain licensure to teach in the certification fields below.

• Early Childhood: EC – Grade 3

• Core Subjects: Early Childhood–Grade 6

• Core Subjects: Grades 4–8

• English Language Arts: Grades 4–8

• English Language Arts and Reading/Social Studies: Grades 4–8

This new testing requirement goes into effect on 1/1/2021. With all the chaos that the year 2020 has brought us, the timing of this new requirement is less than ideal and highly offensive to intern certified teachers in the state of Texas for several reasons:

1. Intern certified teachers have been working around the clock this school year. Being a first-year teacher in a normal year is challenging enough but during a pandemic when many are expected to teach in-person and online is crippling. There is simply not enough time in our overloaded schedules for an additional and unexpected exam requirement.

2. In addition to the stress of managing online and face-to-face classrooms simultaneously, many intern year educators are burdened with the anxiety of maintaining their students' health, their families' health, and their own health during this pandemic.

3. Intern certified educators are blessed to have maintained employment through the pandemic and closures from COVID-19 however, each family has its own struggles and many may have spouses that are unable to work or they or their family may have medical issues that limit their ability to work at this time. The new Science of Teaching Reading exam adds a financial burden on intern teachers and their families. This new exam costs $136. If a teacher does not pass, they are required to take it again and again paying full price each time.

4. Many school districts across the state ask that all certification exams for intern teachers be passed by March in order to renew contracts for the following year. They want to know that these educators will have their standard certification by next fall. With the new testing requirements, many teachers will not be able to show proof of standard certification by March. This will put their employment with their district in jeopardy.

5. All of the content area tests listed above have tested the same material that will be on the Science of Teaching Reading Exam. To intern teachers and anyone who has already shown mastery on their content exam, the Science of Teaching Reading Exam is redundant and unnecessary.

6. The state is still unsure of how to exactly grade the Science of Teaching reading exam. For the first three months of 2021, the test will not be scored but rather listed as pass or fail. First-year teachers and those who have shown mastery of the content should not have to waste their time taking a required exam with no scoring rubric.

7. Testing centers and spots are limited already due to social distancing practices. With many first-year teachers also still needing to take the PPR and ESL exams this will lead to more time taken away from students and school as well as some travel to get to a testing site with available spots.

First-year teachers and future Texas educators who have passed their content exams are tired, nearing burnout, and are frustrated with this new requirement. Teachers teach because they love their students and want to help them grow. 2020 is challenging but we can help our students to the best of our ability. In order to give all the energy we possibly can to our students (who need us now more than ever), we are asking that if someone has 1) Earned their intern certification and/or 2) Began teaching at any point this fall they should be grandfathered in and not required to pass the STR exam in order to earn their standard certification. This will help first-year teachers to truly take care of their students' education in the way each child deserves.