• AACTE 70th Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD

Why I Score edTPA

Editor’s Note: Tracy Spesia, a nationally trained edTPA scorer, is the recent recipient of an innovation award from the University of Saint Francis for her work on edTPA at the College of Education. According to the university, Spesia’s “creative and successful efforts with the implementation of edTPA have positioned USF as a leader in the state” and have helped enhance “the quality of USF students’ application of theory into practice during their field experiences.” In recognition of her leadership, she was appointed to the Illinois Association for Teacher Education in Private Colleges as the edTPA liaison. Spesia also serves on the executive board of the Illinois Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Click here for information about becoming an edTPA scorer.

This year I became an official edTPA scorer, and it is one of the most rewarding professional experiences I have had since I started working in the area of teacher preparation.

Certainly, analyzing practice is intrinsic to teaching. I know that my colleagues in higher education and I share a fascination with reflection about content goals, classroom dynamics, the demonstration of skills and knowledge, the assessment of needs and of learning, and how all those pieces come together. This work engages teachers in mind and heart and, because we love teaching, the classroom always calls to us.

As an edTPA scorer, I get to experience that level of reflection—repeatedly.

I “spend time” in classrooms with teacher candidates and their students. I ponder whether a candidate’s choices are maximizing the students’ learning potential. I am inspired by the strong novice teaching performances that, frankly, put my own early teaching to shame. I see exemplars of effective teaching as well as teaching that is simply not getting the job done. There is a certainly a difference, and scoring gives me the opportunity to witness that over and over again.

It turns out that scoring is an immediate and engaging way to grow as a professional educator. It provides a common ground to discuss best practices with my colleagues, whose numbers have expanded well beyond the walls of my institution.

Since I have been involved with edTPA at the scoring level, I have instant points of reference with professional educators from all over the country. Specifically in my state, as we develop implementation initiatives, the edTPA scoring process has opened up levels of professional collaboration to me that are stimulating and worthwhile.

As an edTPA scorer, I work to forward the great cause that was the reason I became a teacher—that is, student learning—and I am able to sharpen my professional skills and knowledge in the process.


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Tracy Spesia

Field Experience Coordinator, College of Education, University of Saint Francis, Joliet, IL

Comments (3)

  • Janet

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    Dear Professor Spesia,
    Thank you for your post. I recently took and passed my edTPA and as I worked diligently on it, I often wondered who the assessment’s scorers might be and what their backgrounds were. Taking the edTPA was an extremely challenging exercise. Though I agree with those who say that the assessment takes time from other valuable experiences and practices that student teachers previously engaged in, I can also say that I learned and grew by doing edTPA. Knowing your background, however, I am sad that I learned so little from my edTPA assessment. If teacher candidates were able to get real feedback from experienced scorers like yourself rather than just the preset rubric language corresponding with a chosen number, there would be potential for so much more teaching and learning, not to mention a better general understanding for what, specifically, constitutes high-level edTPA work. I think the edTPA rubrics are too general to be of great use. I was happy enough with my overall edTPA score but frustrated in places where, in my mind, I had fulfilled the demands required for getting a 4 or 5 and had no idea why I, instead, earned a 3. If scorers were able to provide more specific feedback, it might also go a long way toward helping candidates and the colleges that train them see that there is consistency and reason in the scoring process, something that is questioned (see: http://www.nea.org/home/63423.htm).
    Very sincerely,
    Janet W.

    Reply

  • Sara Hiller

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    Hello Janet,
    Tracy provided the following response to your comment.

    “Dear Janet,
    Thank you for your comment. I would encourage you to return to those rubrics to understand your edTPA score report — the rubrics are designed to provide you with feedback beyond your scores. The descriptors will guide you to what the scorer did or did not see in your portfolio. If you want to dig deeper, consult the Understanding Rubric Level Progressions provided by your program. This document provides another level of detail for performance levels and expands the rubric descriptors. As you review your portfolio evidence, align it to those detailed descriptors to unpack the scoring. Although both the artifacts and the commentary showcase your teaching, remember that some evidence is predominantly provided in the commentary when you need to make your thinking transparent and demonstrate your analytic skills (e.g. Rubrics 3, 10, 11, 13 and 15). Likewise, some evidence is predominantly provided in your video clips or student work sample artifacts when the scorer must see you in action (e.g. Rubrics 6, 7, 8, 9, 12).

    Congratulations on your successful completion of edTPA! I assume that you found equal success with the other summative assessments included in your preparation program and that you feel confident in your role as a novice teacher. It sounds like your ability to carefully construct, deliver, and analyze a particular learning segment enhanced your teaching knowledge and skills. To date, the candidates in our program found that experience to be true as well. “Putting it all together” in an edTPA portfolio deepened their understanding and enabled them to articulate their practice more effectively.

    Best of luck as you begin your professional teaching career!
    Sincerely,
    Tracy Spesia”

    Reply

    • Janet

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      Dear Professor Spesia,
      I actually used the rubrics AND rubric level progressions as I wrote my edTPA responses so I thought I was well covered. I still have no idea why what I submitted didn’t match up in all cases in the scorer’s eyes. In my opinion, the rubrics are far too general to be of much use.
      Sincerely,
      Janet W.

      Reply

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