Training and staff development requirements were impacted by bills passed in the 87th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature.
Three bills, Senate Bill (SB) 1267, House Bill (HB) 1118, and HB 159 address multiple areas as outlined below.
Training and Continuing Education for District Employees (SB 1267 and HB 1118)
The effective date of SB 1267 was June 18, 2021. Specific implementation dates and other deadlines are noted where applicable.
Cybersecurity Training Requirement
SB 1267 adds a provision to Texas Education Code (TEC) §11.175 limiting annual cybersecurity training requirements in Texas Government Code §2054.5191 to district cybersecurity coordinators. The bill specifies other staff required to complete the training will do it as determined by the district in consultation with the cybersecurity coordinator.
HB 1118, effective May 18, 2021, also amended provisions related to required cybersecurity training. Employees and elected and appointed officials who use a computer to complete at least 25 percent of their required duties must complete the training. The school board can deny access to the district computer system or database if an employee or official fails to comply with the training requirements. Exemptions from training are provided to individuals on military or family medical leave (FML), sick or disability leave covered by workers compensation, any extended leave or authorization to work from an alternative work site, and those denied access due to noncompliance.
Continuing Education on Instructing Certain Student Populations
SB 1267 also specifies continuing education requirements for educators must include training regarding educating students with disabilities. The bill removes the following student groups from the list of diverse student populations referenced in teacher and principal continuing education training required every five years for certification renewal:
- Students eligible to participate in special education programs
- Students eligible to receive services under Section 504
- Students with mental health conditions or who engage in substance abuse
- Students with intellectual or developmental delays
- Students of emerging bilingual education
This bill also removes mental health conditions, including the impact of grief and trauma on student learning, from the list of topics referenced in the teacher and principal continuing education training.
Staff Development Topics
The bill amends staff development requirements in TEC §21.451 by removing the requirement to include training on recognizing signs of mental health conditions and substance abuse and the impact of grief and trauma on student learning and behavior.
Training on how grief and trauma affect student learning, including strategies to support academic success, are now required to be included in the district Trauma-Informed Care Policy. The training must be included in new employee orientation and provided in accordance with the new training clearinghouse (see details below) with the frequency established by board policy. Districts will no longer be required to report employee training completion information to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
Continuing Education and Training Clearinghouse
The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) is charged with creating a clearinghouse of information about continuing education and training requirements, including frequency, for educators and other school personnel. An advisory group composed of educators and people from organizations that represent educators must be created to provide input about industry recommendations and best practices and to consult on the information in the clearinghouse. The advisory group must complete a review of the clearinghouse every other year. A report is due to the legislature by December 1 of even-numbered years recommending training reductions, eliminations, or consolidations. SBEC is required to publish the continuing education and training clearinghouse by June 1, 2022.
Frequency of Training and Policy Requirement
School boards and governing bodies of open-enrollment charter schools must annually review the clearinghouse and adopt a professional development policy. The policy must include a required training schedule for educators and other school personnel created using the clearinghouse recommendations. Statutes with required training frequencies will supersede a policy provision, but several provisions in law requiring training at specific intervals were removed. The commissioner may adopt rules about frequency of training if granted explicit rulemaking authority by statute for that training. The district professional development policy must be adopted by August 1, 2022.
Literacy and Math Achievement Academies
Existing literacy achievement academies will be extended to teachers providing reading instruction to students in any grade level, not just kindergarten through grade 3. Elements will be added to the training for teachers teaching students in grades 4 through 8. Grade 6 through 8 math, science, and social studies teachers and any other areas identified by the commissioner must learn about incorporating reading instruction into their subject areas. The deadline for K–3 teachers and principals to complete a teacher literacy achievement academy is extended to the 2022–2023 school year.
This bill repeals TEC §21.4551 relating to reading academies for students in grade 6 through 8 and TEC §21.554 relating to Reading-to-Learn Academies for students at grades 4 and 5.
Dyslexia teachers who completed a literacy achievement academy may count their participation towards continuing education and training for the screening or treatment of dyslexia or a related disorder.
The commissioner-adopted criteria for selecting teachers to attend literary achievement academies will require grade 6, 7, or 8 reading, math, science, and social studies teachers at a campus failing a reading assessment achievement indicator to attend the academy.
Mathematics achievement academies are also expanded to math teachers at any grade level, not just teachers at kindergarten through grade 3. Underlying mathematical skills and effective instruction techniques will be added to the training, if appropriate for the teacher’s grade level.
TEC §21.455 relating to professional development for math teachers in grades 5 through 8 is repealed. A provision requiring the commissioner to make training materials available and create an instructional pilot program for math teachers was added.
The commissioner is generally prohibited from requiring a district employee to repeat training on the administration of the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS). This bill prohibits TEA from requiring members of a language proficiency assessment committee (LPAC) created by TEC §29.063 to complete training to serve on that committee.
Training for Mentor Programs
This bill streamlines the required mentor teacher training by allowing the completion of a commissioner-approved program to satisfy a district’s required training.
UIL Safety and CPR Training
The extracurricular activity safety training program adopted by the University Interscholastic League (UIL) is amended by this bill. Frequency for the training shall be in accordance with the professional development policy required by TEC §21.4515. Requirements for physicians and volunteers to complete the safety program have been removed. Additionally, the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) component of the program has been removed from this section of TEC. However, a head band director, head coach, or chief sponsor of an extracurricular athletic activity, including cheerleading, are still subject to training in CPR and use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) by TEC §33.086. The frequency of the training was changed from annually to a schedule in accordance with the professional development policy.
The requirement for the UIL to provide training to extracurricular students in recognizing the symptoms of catastrophic injuries and the risks of using dietary supplements to enhance athletic performance has been removed.
TEC §37.0831 related to the dating violence policy requirements is amended by this bill. Required training will apply to teachers and administrators in grade 6 and above. Prior law required all teachers and administrators be trained.
Traumatic Injury Response Training
Training on bleeding control stations required under TEC §38.030 to be provided through an online course is authorized by this bill.
Test Administration Training
The number of employees required by the commissioner of education to receive annual training on test administration is limited by this bill. Only the employee who oversees administration of assessment instruments will have to meet this requirement. That individual may require an employee to repeat test administration training, at their discretion.
Additional Training Repeals
The Nature Science Curriculum Project and the permissive school district training session about procedures for evacuating a bus for students and teachers have both been repealed. Additionally, provisions related to duplicative subsections of TEC §21.054 have been cleaned up.
Training Teachers of Students With Disabilities (HB 159)
The effective date of this bill is September 1, 2021 (2021–2022 school year).
Student With a Disability Definition
HB 159 adds the definition of student with a disability to Chapter 21 of the Texas Education Code. A student with a disability is defined as a student eligible for a district’s special education program, covered by Section 504, or covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs)
This bill amends provisions relating to SBEC rules for certification requirements. The rules must state what educators should know and do regarding students with disabilities. Certificate training requirements must include additional information about disability categories under the IDEA and Section 504 and how these conditions affect student learning and development. Certification candidates also must participate in training regarding dyslexia, mental health, substance abuse, and youth suicide.
EPPs are required to incorporate instructional planning techniques that provide flexibility; reduce barriers; provide accommodations, supports, and challenges; maintain high achievement expectations; and use inclusive instructional practices for all students, including students with disabilities and emerging bilingual students to be eligible for approval or renewal.
The qualifications for principals are amended requiring an emphasis on the ability to create an inclusive school environment and foster parent involvement. Additionally, the training component on curriculum and instruction management must include management of students with disabilities.
TEC provisions related to staff development for educators other than principals are amended to require inclusive practices for all students including students with disabilities and the incorporation of techniques that provide flexibility; reduce barriers; provide accommodations, supports, and challenges; and maintain high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and emerging bilingual students.
Karen Dooley joined HR Services in 2016. She provides oversight to a team of consultants providing staffing services, HR reviews, and other projects. She provides training and assists school districts with their HR-related needs. Dooley is a seasoned administrator with more than 17 years of HR experience in Central Texas districts as a coordinator, director, and assistant superintendent. She also worked as an assistant principal, counselor, and teacher, and holds a superintendent certificate.
Dooley received her master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University and her bachelor’s degree from Texas State University.