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Illinois Educator Event Comes at Pivotal Moment in State’s edTPA Transition

Illinois has moved beyond the trial phase with edTPA, which became consequential here as of September 1, 2015. That’s why the recent state conference of the Illinois Teacher Performance Assessment Consortium (TPAC) was aptly named Moving Forward.

The event convened 131 educator preparation experts from 45 institutions and education organizations from across the state September 11-12 to discuss this next phase in our state’s edTPA journey.

Ideas, data and real-life examples were exchanged throughout the conference, as most of the state’s institutions of higher education were able to draw from experiences gleaned during last spring’s edTPA “trial run.”

Educator preparation programs have had time to review the trial results, including the scores and, in some cases, responses from student surveys. I smiled to myself as I listened to these conversations because the process was quite similar to what teacher candidates are asked to do in edTPA, which is to analyze and reflect on their lessons, instruction and assessment results.  

Most importantly, the institutions took a careful look at the data for their students, noted areas of concern as well as areas of strength and used this information to inform programs and help outline next steps of instruction.  Sound familiar?

This analysis of edTPA data helped preparation programs identify strategies and supports that were effective in preparing their teacher candidates for edTPA – and for effective beginning teaching. Participants share several examples of support materials, including academic language supports, orientation and support meeting agendas, Thinking Guides, lesson plan formats, timelines and edTPA checklists.

The Illinois TPAC conference also provided a platform for programs to share promising practices and ask for ideas and suggestions. One area of particular interest was how to help teacher candidates manage their time during their clinical teaching semester.

The collaboration did not stop there. Programs shared policies for retakes and ideas for additional support, which they are working hard to put in place this fall. Collaborating with campuses that are further along in the process was helpful for many.

This process will no doubt continue to be challenging, however, as we navigate the retake policies and try to determine the best possible routes for our candidates as they become classroom ready. 

These types of conversations made the Illinois TPAC State Conference especially worthwhile. Great minds coming together to learn from one another with a common goal – the preparation of student-teacher candidates to become exemplary educators – is truly rewarding.

The conference featured good times and great collaboration among wonderful colleagues who care deeply about education, the students in their programs and the students in classrooms across Illinois and the nation.  It doesn’t get much better – or more important – than that. 

A big thank you to the Illinois TPAC State Conference committee and Illinois State University for helping to make the conference possible, memorable and a step toward Moving Forward.

Judy Boisen is associate director for edTPA in the University Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation at Northern Illinois University.

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Judy Boisen

Associate Director edTPA, Northern Illinois University