An edTPA Journey: One Program’s Story

*I have signed a confidentiality waiver with Pearson that prohibits me from exposing specific elements of edTPA. I plan to maintain a level of candor and criticality on this blog that doesn’t compromise that agreement.

This semester, my students and I will participate in Pratt’s first foray into a new teacher exam called edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment; see the testmaker’s FAQ’s here). The assessment involves teacher candidates creating a unit plan and then video taping themselves teaching a portion of that unit in their student teaching environment. Students will then write a reflective piece about their teaching, based on over a dozen rubrics provided in edTPA prep materials. Finally, the will upload the entire package through a platform provided by Pearson (also the test’s author, and the company responsible for the scoring of the test, which is not unproblematic).

edTPA is part of a new suite of tests that will be required of all New York State teacher candidates. The three existing teacher exams (LAST, ATS-W and CST) will be replaced by three new assessments (EAS, ALST, and a new CST) in addition to the edTPA (for more information see the NYSTCE site).  These exams have not yet been released. Some materials are available to prep for them on the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations (NYSTCE) site as of August 6th. These documents are called Frameworks, and they read like standards. See for example this document on ALST.

New York is one of a handful of states in the implementation phase with edTPA. Many other states are still in the exploratory phase. The assessment’s pilot was scored over the summer of 2013 (and as this article notes, cut scores have not yet been determined).

Many have critiqued edTPA because it is a new high stakes test dressed in the sheep’s clothing of a local assessment (for example, see this piece by Barbara Madeloni, dismissed from her post at UMass Amherst for opposition to edTPA, or this one by Wayne Au of Rethinking Schools). Because the test is “performed” during student teaching and requires reflective writing about the student teacher’s practice, it has benevolent aspects. However, this test is being scored outside the local context by the same corporation that produces the exams (and study materials!) that my students’ students use. At a moment when student test scores are being used to evaluate teacher education programs, these scores will also soon become data points that determine the fate of teacher ed programs, and possibly my own job.

As the student teaching supervisor for school library students, I also have some subject-specific concerns about how my students will logistically complete edTPA in the school library setting. Due to the constraints on librarians within the New York City Department of Education (for example presently, the city is seeking a waiver to avoid the requirement for school librarians, a requirement with which NYC is currently out of compliance), I foresee some challenges for my students who are completing edTPA this term.

On my blog, I hope to address these concerns, while at the same documenting the hard work that my students are doing as student teachers. I want to explore exactly what we learn about our teaching practices: my students, as student teachers and test-takers; and myself, as someone who fully supports them. Join me!

About Jessica Hochman

I am an assistant professor at Pratt Institute in the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) where I also coordinate the LMS Program (school librarians, for the uninitiated). I live in Brooklyn, NY.
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