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Summary: Currently, public schools base their success rates on how well their students perform academically. HB 1752 seeks to enhance student performance and meet the need in under-staffed schools and low-economic student populations by preparing teachers. As a result, the legislation would create the Texas Teacher Residency Program. The program would function under the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) which would collaborate with a university and public schools or open-enrollment charter schools in an effort to equip the selected teachers. At the end of the program, the teachers would receive a master's degree and teaching certification. HB 1752 would also open up the repayment assistance program, Teach for Texas, allowing the Texas Residency Program, certified teachers, and non-certified teachers who taught for four years in an under-staffed and disadvantaged population receive financial assistance.
Analysis: HB 1752 expands government's scope by creating a new program while the state needs to address other important educational challenges. Also, the legislation attempts to solve a problem where no problem exists - the training programs that would be created by this legislation would be duplicative since there are already many opportunities in Texas for teachers to receive master's degrees and certifications.
Research indicates that pedagogy master's degrees for teachers do not provide a direct correlation with student improvement. Instead, degree specific programs in areas such as math and science better prepare a teacher to teach in their respective subject areas. According to Princeton-Brookings in their article titled "Should Teachers Pursue Master's Degrees?" they argue that "...these programs have been criticized for teaching irrelevant and non-transferable skills, lacking intellectual rigor, or failing to build new knowledge or abilities" (Princeton-Brookings).
Furthermore, in "Teacher Compensation and Training Policies: Impacts on Student Outcomes," the Washington State Institute for Public Policy explains that "[t]he research also suggests that creating financial incentives for teachers to obtain general graduate training and professional development is not associated with improvements in student test scores. We did find evidence that more focused training, such as in-subject master's degrees and content-specific professional development, can improve student outcomes" (p. 1, Washington State Institute for Public Policy). The concern remains that creating a program which focuses on pedagogy master's degrees will not adequately prepare teachers for their classrooms any more than they are currently equipped through the traditional education system.
We advise the Legislature to vote against HB 1752.