Five Keys to Successful edTPA Implementation

Elisa Palmer, edTPA coordinator at Illinois State University, shares five takeaways from a panel on edTPA implementation during the Illinois Teacher Performance Assessment Consortium conference Sept. 11.

edTPA implementation can be overwhelming. But after 5 years of experience with more than 1,800 teacher candidates to complete the process, faculty and administrators from across our campus have helped us identify five key areas that, if addressed thoughtfully, might also lead to successful edTPA implementation on your campus.

  1. Teacher candidate preparation for edTPA

    Teacher candidate preparation has the greatest influence on candidate success on edTPA. By the time teacher candidates reach student teaching, they should have had experience with the language and performance expectations of edTPA. Moreover, teacher candidates need to be made aware that these experiences getting ready to teach will help them prepare for edTPA. This helps increase their confidence heading into their edTPA project work.  Since edTPA assesses foundational aspects of effective beginning teaching, strong preparation for edTPA helps prepare strong beginning teachers.

  2. Faculty and staff knowledge of edTPA

    In order to prepare and support candidates, teacher education faculty and staff must have a working knowledge of the language and performance expectations of edTPA. This knowledge can be gained through working with other faculty members in similar as well as different content areas, piloting the assessment with candidates, collaborating with peers from other higher education institutions, and using the multiple professional development resources available from the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Evaluation (SCALE) and from AACTE. edTPA community members (now more than 8,000) are a great resource as well because they share resources and findings.

  3. Communication with PK-12 partners

    PK-12 partners can be the last to learn about edTPA, and when they do, it is often about video recording and the permissions needed by the candidates. When PK-12 partners, especially cooperating teachers, understand the requirements and purpose of edTPA, they can be more supportive. Cooperating teachers can assist teacher candidates with distributing and collecting permission forms, video recording, and other edTPA logistics. Understanding edTPA also helps the cooperating teacher have conversations about student learning. For example, when a cooperating teacher understands how teacher candidates must analyze student learning, he or she can engage the candidate  daily about student performance, learning patterns, and how that will affect instruction for the next day. These conversations prepare the candidate for edTPA and make for effective beginning teachers.

  4. Candidate support during completion of edTPA

    Candidates who are completing their edTPA portfolios need support from their programs. Support can come in a variety of forms, varying greatly based on teacher candidates’ needs and program. For our programs, all teacher candidates get edTPA thinking organizers, review forms, completion checklists, video guides, technology support, and submission guidance. Other tools are provided as deemed necessary by the program and could include edTPA orientation meetings, seminars throughout the semester, and designated edTPA writing time. University supervisors and cooperating teachers play essential roles, especially in assisting with video permission forms, the video recording process, and timeline guidance.

  5. Campus-wide involvement

    When teacher candidates’ edTPA performance affects their chances for graduation, licensure, or both, it becomes a campus-wide issue. Advisers need to know what is required, what programs are doing to prepare candidates, how candidates are supported during the assessment, and how past candidates have performed. Why? They are people who answer students’ questions about edTPA and support its educative purpose. The more informed they are, the more likely they will be to competently answer those questions and build candidates’ confidence. As important decision makers and leaders, higher education administration should also know about edTPA and be involved in those decision-making processes.

edTPA implementation can be overwhelming, but it is also incredibly rewarding. Our programs have benefitted greatly from this assessment, and it has united education programs across our university, strengthened PK-12 communication, and connected us with other universities across the country. By addressing the areas above, we have been highly successful in our edTPA implementation work—and you can be as well.


Elisa Palmer

edTPA coordinator, Illinois State University