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Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Property Tax Assistance Division
Educational Course Approval Program
Policies and Procedures

Effective Feb. 1, 2014

Introduction

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (Comptroller's office) is required to approve continuing education programs and educational courses for property tax appraisers and tax assessor-collectors (Occupations Code, Section 1151.1015). The Comptroller’s office may approve publications relating to the appraisal of property and the administration of taxes, including materials published by The Appraisal Foundation (TAF), the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO), or other professionally recognized organizations, for use in the administration of property taxes (Tax Code, Section 5.05).

Accordingly, programs and courses offered by or through TAF, IAAO and the Appraisal Institute (AI) are approved by the Comptroller’s office. These programs and courses are not subject to submission for approval until further notice.

Continuing education programs and educational courses that have not been approved by the Comptroller’s office must be submitted for approval as outlined in this policy.

To receive approval of and continuing education credit for an educational course, the course must be submitted to the Comptroller's Property Tax Assistance Division (PTAD) for approval at least 90 calendar days prior to the date of the course offering. Educational courses include courses required for initial classification and/or certification in accordance with TDLR's classification system for property tax professional registrants and courses of greater than two days in duration for which continuing education credit may be obtained.

Educational courses may only deal with six issues: (1) appraisal procedures and methods; (2) tax assessment and collection; (3) ethics; (4) laws and rules, including implementation of new legislation; (5) Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices (USPAP); or (6) customer service. PTAD will review requests and will approve, deny or ask for more information to make a determination concerning the number of hours for which credit will be given by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). Continuing education programs must also deal with these issues and will be conducted in a period of two days or less.

A list of approved educational courses can be found on the PTAD website. Any educational courses not already approved by PTAD or offered by or through TAF, IAAO and AI are subject to the 90-day submission and educational course approval process. If you have questions regarding approval of TAF, IAAO or AI courses as they relate to TDLR classification, please contact PTAD at (800) 252-9121.

Definitions

Continuing education programs - refers to short-term workshops, seminars, forums and other presentations that do not last more than two days and are taken for continuing education credit.

Educational courses - refers to courses required for initial classification and/or certification in accordance with TDLR's classification system for property tax professional registrants and courses of greater than two days in duration for which continuing education credit may be obtained.

Educational course approval period - educational courses are approved for four years from the date of approval by PTAD.

Educational course owner - refers to any school, organization, person or other entity that owns the proprietary rights to a course. Educational course owners may have developed their own materials or may have purchased the proprietary rights to course materials. Educational course owners are responsible for the actions of any secondary providers which use PTAD approved educational material.

Continuing education credit - refers to hours awarded to educational courses that are creditable toward renewal of TDLR certification.

Joint educational course owner - refers to any combination of schools, organizations, individuals or other entities that own the proprietary rights to the educational course materials. Each of the joint educational course owners is responsible for the actions of all secondary providers that use PTAD approved educational material.

Material revision - when material has been corrected to account for errors, such as mathematical errors, grammar or formatting.

Material update - when material has been changed or modernized to reflect more current procedures or value estimates. Materials containing new activities, examples, work problems or other substantial changes are considered rewrites.

Material rewrite - when material has been substantially changed due to changes in law, standards or methodology and when materials have been substantially revised by changing the layout or curriculum or by adding activities, examples and work problems.

Presentation ready - final educational course version that is free of substantive errors.

Sponsor - a school, organization, person or other entity that purchases the rights to (but not proprietary rights) or otherwise lawfully acquires PTAD-approved material from an educational course owner. The sponsor may independently conduct a course using such acquired educational course materials subject to these policies and procedures.

Substantive errors - may include, but are not limited to: incorrect definitions, poorly worded explanations, references, techniques and/or application of techniques or any error which impacts the learning objectives of the educational course. An educational course may be considered to have substantive errors if it contains a series of errors which might not be considered significant individually, but in the aggregate affects the overall quality of the educational course material. Substantive errors result in an educational course not being presentation ready.

Educational Course Approval Overview

  1. Any school or organization, person or other entity that owns the proprietary rights to an educational course is eligible to apply for course approval.
  2. Educational course titles are not required to mirror major topics.
  3. Educational course approval is valid for four years from the effective date of approval.
  4. Educational course owners are required to maintain and update course content to reflect changes in law, theory and methodology. Material rewrites of educational courses must be approved and educational course owners are required to provide a supplemental instructor guide for use until the new course materials are approved.
  5. Application for educational course approval, with all course materials, must be submitted to PTAD at least ninety (90) calendar days prior to the start of the course for which approval is sought; however, the Comptroller's office, at its sole discretion, may grant approval on late-submitted and retroactive requests.
  6. Applications not received at least ninety (90) calendar days prior to the start of the educational course for which approval is sought may not be approved and timely submitted to TDLR.
  7. Incomplete applications may be returned for further information. The ninety (90) day approval period will not commence until the complete application with all educational course materials is submitted.
  8. Educational courses may only deal with the following issues: (1) appraisal procedures and methods; (2) tax assessment and collection; (3) ethics; (4) laws and rules, including implementation of new legislation; (5) USPAP; or (6) customer service.
  9. Continuing education units are approved for educational course work only and not for examinations.
  10. Continuing education units are calculated on an hour-for-hour basis for submissions with a timed agenda that indicates breaks and lunches. Submissions with timed agendas that do not indicate breaks and/or lunches are calculated as 50 minutes of continuing education credit for every 60 minutes of actual class time.
  11. Separate application and approval is required for each delivery method of an educational course.
  12. Educational courses submitted to PTAD for review are subject to release as public information unless the course and associated materials or specific parts of them can be shown to be exempt from the Texas Public Information Act. All applicants are advised to consult with legal counsel regarding disclosure issues and take the appropriate precautions to safeguard trade secrets or any other proprietary information. The Comptroller’s office assumes no obligation or responsibility relating to the disclosure or nondisclosure of information submitted by applicants.

    If an applicant believes that any portion of a course or associated materials is confidential, then the applicant must so specify. The applicant must stamp in bold red letters the term "CONFIDENTIAL" on that specific part or page of the submitted materials which the applicant believes to be confidential. The applicant must submit in writing specific detailed reasons, including any relevant legal authority, stating why the respondent believes the material to be confidential. Vague and general claims as to confidentiality will not be accepted. The Comptroller’s office will be the sole judge as to whether a claim is general and/or vague in nature. All courses and associated materials and/or parts of them which are not marked as confidential will be automatically considered public information after the approval is determined. Successful applications may be considered public information even though parts are marked confidential.

    In the event the Comptroller’s office receives a request for portions of a course or associated materials marked as "confidential" as specified above, the Comptroller’s office shall forward such request to the Texas Attorney General's office for an opinion on whether such information may be withheld from disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act. The Comptroller’s office will notify the applicant whose course and/or associated materials are the subject of the request when the information is forwarded to the Attorney General's office. Applicants are advised that the Comptroller’s office is obligated to comply with the decision of the Attorney General, including any such decision calling for the release of information marked "confidential" by a respondent.

    Copyrighted materials are not released, but are made accessible for viewing pursuant to the Public Information Act.

  13. Applicants may not state in any advertising or other materials that a course is being or has been submitted to PTAD for review. If an applicant violates this provision, PTAD may suspend the review of the educational course in question until the violation is corrected. If the violation is not corrected within thirty (30) days of notice, then the application may be declined.
  14. PTAD will give written notification to applicants and TDLR of course approval or disapproval.

Application for Initial Course Approval

  1. Applicants seeking approval of educational courses must:
    1. Complete Comptroller Form 50-783: Educational Course - Approval Request (See Appendix A); and
    2. Electronically submit a presentation-ready course and course materials in electronic format, preferably Microsoft Office.
  2. An application and all required information must be completed before it will be reviewed for approval. Failure to submit all material ninety (90) days prior to course delivery could result in a request for further information and delay the approval process. The ninety (90) day review period does not begin until the complete application and all required information is received.
  3. An educational course shall be reviewed and considered for approval by PTAD if it meets each of the following criteria:
    1. The material consists of an organized course dealing with:
      1. Appraisal standards and methodology;
      2. Tax assessment and collection practices;
      3. Ethics;
      4. Laws and rules, including legislative updates;
      5. USPAP; or
      6. Customer service.
    2. The material may include coverage of technical, scientific or other bodies of knowledge that are directly related to any of the subjects in C.1. above.
    3. The material includes a list of qualifications the instructor must have to be able to properly teach the course.
    4. The material is designed for and targeted to property tax professionals.
  4. An educational course shall NOT be approved if it is:
    1. Designed or intended to market a product or service to property tax professionals.
    2. Intended to solely teach non-property tax skills such as training in the use of hardware, office equipment, non-appraisal, non-assessment or non-collection software, professional development or general communication skills such as public speaking, individual money management or investing, career building, rainmaking and marketing skills or supervisory or general office management skills.
    3. Directed to the general public and not targeted to property tax professionals.
  5. Educational courses include any subject matter determined by TDLR as educational requirements for certification as a property tax professional or by PTAD for instructor training.
  6. Educational course submissions must include:
    1. Application - completed Comptroller Form 50-783, Educational Course - Approval Request;
    2. Student materials - presentation ready materials covering subject matter and used by students during course including examples for how to work each of the problems in the workbook and references to each workbook question at the appropriate place in the student material and discussion of the answers;
    3. Course overview or description - a clear description of the content of the course;
    4. Timed agenda - an outline that indicates the recommended time spent on each course objective, activity or examination;
    5. Learning objectives - the specific, measurable, attainable and relevant knowledge or skills students are expected to acquire by completing the course;
    6. Course outline - an outline of the course materials;
    7. Course review - a summary of what is covered in the course;
    8. Copies of or electronic links to statutes, laws, rules or standards being taught;
    9. Course activities, examples or case studies - course specific materials used to demonstrate learning objectives;
    10. Course quizzes or examinations - clearly written quizzes or examinations intended to test student knowledge on course materials;
    11. Instructor qualifications - a list of minimum qualifications for someone to teach the course;
    12. Instructor materials - any materials for an instructor that students do not receive, including but not limited to, specific learning activities for students (at least on per section) and references and cross-references to examples and workbook questions at the appropriate place in the outline with discussion of the answers, presentation slides and keys for grading examinations;
    13. Course ownership policies - policies indicating proprietary ownership of an educational course or sponsorship rights granted from the proprietary owner.

For your assistance, a Checklist for Submission of Educational Course for Approval Review is attached as Appendix B.

Course Renewal Requirements

  1. Educational course approval is valid for four years from the date of PTAD's approval, except that material rewrites are required. Material rewrites of educational courses must be approved and available for teaching by Jan. 1 and, therefore, submitted to PTAD no later than Oct. 1 of the prior year. Educational course owners are required to provide a supplemental instructor guide for use until the new course materials are approved.
  2. Educational course renewals must be submitted to PTAD at least ninety (90) days prior to the expiration of approval. Failure to submit all materials for renewal ninety (90) days prior to course delivery could result in a request for further information and a delay in the approval process. The ninety (90) day review period does not begin until the complete renewal application and all required information is received.
  3. Educational course owners must submit a completed Form 50-783: Educational Course - Approval Request, indicating the course is a renewal, together with any course material changes.
  4. Educational course owners are not required to submit previously-approved course materials unless substantive changes have been made and material is required to be updated or rewritten as previously defined in this policy.
  5. Educational course owners are required to identify and explain any revisions to educational course materials.
  6. Expired educational courses must submit approval as a new course.
  7. PTAD retains the right to disapprove any educational course renewal.
  8. PTAD is not responsible for notifying educational course owners of course expiration dates.

Withdrawal of Educational Course Approval

PTAD retains the right to withdraw approval of any educational course upon a finding that certain conditions or circumstances exist regarding the course. They include, but may not be limited to, one or more of the following conditions or circumstances.

  1. Educational course material contained outdated laws, practices, theories or methodology.
  2. The educational course owner submitted false or misleading information during the application process.
  3. The educational course taught was different than that for which approval was received.
  4. The educational course owner misrepresented approval of a course.
  5. The educational course owner failed to notify PTAD that proprietary rights were sold to a new course owner.
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