Tennessee edTPA: Rubrics and Rigor, and Rethinking Retakes

The second annual Tennessee edTPA Conference was held November 12–13 at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville. Attendees from 13 Tennessee institutions, and one guest from North Carolina, collaborated to learn more about edTPA and develop new skills to share with faculty, staff, and candidates on their campuses.

The growing interest in edTPA across the state was evidenced by this year’s attendance, which grew by about 10% to 130 educators. The busy first-day agenda included a keynote presentation on the recently released edTPA Administrative Report, 13 breakout sessions, and lunch conversations among attendees with similar responsibilities. The second day was equally full, with local evaluation training facilitated by Cathy Zozakiewicz from the Stanford Center on Assessment, Learning, and Equity.

Early implementers and edTPA veterans alike found a range of presentations tailored to their interests and needs. Among the hottest topics were those dealing with common pitfalls, remediation and retakes, and academic language.

There was considerable buzz as well around the consequential performance standard (also known as the cut score) recently implemented across six Tennessee institutions of higher education and the implications for submission and remediation/retake policies. In response, more meetings and conversations were planned to answer questions around these topics.

As conference organizers had hoped, the opportunity to brainstorm with implementers across the state was invaluable to participants. One master clinician from Austin Peay State University said her main goal for attending was met: “Networking! Having the opportunity to discuss celebrations, issues, strategies in relation to edTPA processes is wonderful!”

Another participant commented that the best part was hearing how other universities approach their work and incorporate research differently. In her comments about the conference, a K-6 field supervisor wrote that the event did a “great job showing how edTPA is not an entity on its own but a way of developing excellent techniques that will lead to becoming an accomplished teacher in the future.”

Sixty participants joined the local evaluation training during Day 2. Program directors, supervisors, instructors, clinicians, and coordinators came together to examine their respective content-specific handbooks through intense review of the rubrics and associated candidate work samples, including videos. Participants used the training to investigate and discuss the rubrics and then immediately apply that knowledge to practice.

A professor of literacy education wrote, based on the local evaluation training activities, that her “instruction will become much more focused” and her “evaluation of student work will become much more rigorous.” The most common takeaway by participants was that “evidence is critical.”

The Tennessee conference is over, but the work is far from finished. The energy and momentum sparked by this conference will produce its own evidence in the form of thoughtful educator preparation programs, successful teacher candidates, and effective PK-12 practitioners.

Julie Baker is associate dean in the College of Education at Tennessee Technological University.

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Julie Baker

Associate dean in the College of Education at Tennessee Technological University.