• AACTE 70th Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD

‘More Than Just a Score’: Making edTPA Work for Early Education

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

At City University of New York’s Lehman College in the Bronx, our early childhood education students are known for their strong work ethic and resilience. Most are working parents, some with long commutes to class on public transit, and approximately 70% are bilingual, having learned English as a second language.

Early on in the edTPA process, we set out to disprove the contention that teachers of very young children – our teachers work with kids as young as 2 years old – would not score well on the assessment. It’s true that it can be challenging to reflect and write about giving feedback to such young students, especially when some of our teachers struggle with written English. But our students led the way in determining developmentally appropriate ways to provide feedback, and they documented their work during writing workshops on the weekends.

In the end, that hard work paid off. Every one of our teachers who submitted edTPA in Early Childhood passed, most with Mastery. We got there by using the assessment for more than just a score – we made it a central component of how our students thought about teaching. Here’s what we learned.

  1. Get faculty into the classroom.

    We send our seminar instructors into student teachers’ classrooms. These visits allow faculty to understand the individual strengths and needs of each student and to tailor lessons to the candidate’s grade level and unique circumstances. But just as importantly, they give us the chance to have conversations with our best resources: our directors, principals, and cooperating teachers. Some of them even attended seminars with our students!

  2. Take advantage of digital technology.

    We find that candidates do best when given immediate feedback on their work. And since so many of our students have family responsibilities and often work full-time, they do much of their writing remotely on the weekends. Quick and clear communication is critical. By using Taskstream as an edTPA platform, and allowing our students to text their instructors for quick answers, we can give candidates the feedback needed in a timely fashion.

  3. Faculty who score edTPA know edTPA.

    Despite the hectic demands of the semester, I found the time to train as an edTPA scorer. I’m glad I did. It helped me understand the importance of the rubrics and gave me confidence that my students could prove their abilities as outstanding teachers.

  4. Utilize the resources around you.

    With a tech support team and early childhood librarian who both have intimate knowledge of edTPA and its handbooks, we are well-equipped to support our students in every way.

If faculty members focus only on getting candidates to pass a test, we’re not making the best use of our students’ time – or preparing them to be effective teachers. But by integrating edTPA into our everyday practice and allowing both students and faculty to use it as a tool for reflection, Lehman College showed that edTPA can be much more than just a test.


Kym Vanderbilt is a lecturer in early childhood education at City University New York’s Lehman College.


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Kym Vanderbilt

Lehman College

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