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State edTPA Profile: Georgia Takes Deliberate, Inclusive Path to Statewide Implementation

A version of this post also appears on the edTPA web site.

When Georgia begins requiring edTPA for teacher certification in 2015-16, it will be the final phase of an implementation process marked by small steps to help educators learn more about performance assessment and then bigger steps to include, inform, and support key audiences.

Georgia educator preparation providers (EPPs) took the first steps. Supported by funding from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, they sent representatives to the edTPA National Implementation Conference in 2012 and then used their own funds to send representatives each year since. Several EPPs also participated in a national field test, sparking greater interest in edTPA. Georgia EPPs have since supported limited and then full-state edTPA pilots in 2013-14 and 2014-15, respectively.

“We initially encouraged EPPs to participate in the national field test,” said Anne Marie Fenton, director of assessment with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. “The results were amazing. One candidate said, ‘It made me feel like a real teacher.’ Participating EPPs expressed great interest in the potential of edTPA. We could not ignore those results.”

The reaction of the eight participating providers encouraged other program providers to take a closer look at the value of using edTPA.

Georgia is taking great care to build statewide capacity to implement edTPA as smoothly as possible, keeping the focus on the educative value of the assessment. Through the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, in collaboration with the University System of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Education, the state has established multiple supports, guided by an edTPA Steering Committee. There’s also a representative edTPA Policy and Implementation Advisory Committee, which helps to identify and address technical and policy-related concerns.

While PK-12 education has been involved, Fenton says efforts are under way to expand representation and participation among PK-12 educators and leaders. These efforts include additional outreach to principals, collaborating teachers, human resources directors, and others so they understand the benefits of edTPA and how to support candidates’ readiness to meet the educational needs of each PK-12 student on Day 1.

In addition to multiple statewide technical assistance events, Georgia has hosted two statewide edTPA summits to help EPPs build capacity for successful implementation of edTPA. To provide ongoing support, Georgia has appointed four regional edTPA consultants. The consultants are full-time faculty from EPPs who work with the state’s 63 providers of initial teacher preparation programs, including traditional and alternative-route programs.

Over the past year, the four edTPA regional consultants have supported edTPA coordinators at each program, surveying them about their implementation needs and sharing resources, updates, and strategies for statewide implementation.

A part of the state’s new tiered certification structure, edTPA must be passed by traditionally prepared candidates as one of the requirements to hold an Induction certificate; non-traditionally prepared candidates, already in the classroom, must pass edTPA for program completion. Out-of-state candidates completing their student teaching in Georgia must take edTPA. In addition, candidate performance on edTPA is one component of the new Preparation Program Effectiveness Measure for all EPPs.

In a presentation at the 2014 edTPA National Implementation Conference, Georgia teacher educators stressed that their efforts are aimed at “support, not compliance,” as well as identifying preparation program needs and sharing best practices and resources to help the programs.

The final slide of their presentation summed up the philosophy and practice of teacher preparation providers in Georgia: “We are working together!”

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Sharon Robinson

President and CEO, AACTE