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Pecheone Encourages Teacher Educators to Embrace National Dialogue

The growing conversation, contentious or not, in the teacher preparation community at large about how to prepare great educators is good for the profession and PK-12 students—and is also helping to improve edTPA support and assessment, Stanford University’s Ray Pecheone told 350 educators at the recent AACTE Annual Meeting.

Pecheone, executive director of the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE), said during the February 25 edTPA breakfast session, “The fact that the profession is having this dialogue about what makes an effective teacher is critical. Engage it! Embrace it! Through this dialogue edTPA has gotten better. It’s a continuous improvement model.”

AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson opened the session, saying, “As the [edTPA] community grows, we will be more intensely involved in getting feedback to meet your high standards. This was an idea 5 years ago. Now it’s the coin of the realm.”

Andrea Whittaker, SCALE’s director of teacher performance assessment, provided updates on new developments and edTPA resources. She noted that New Jersey has now joined 15 other states with edTPA-related policy. Whittaker also shared that edTPA scorer training has been updated and that there are new edTPA resources for cooperating teachers and PK-12 administrators as well as a revised overview for preparation programs called “Using edTPA.”

Soon, she added, edTPA will release an “Academic Language” primer, a professional development plan that takes teachers “from edTPA to induction and beyond,” and possibly a short overview version of candidate handbooks.

When it came to questions, the audience was ready. Here’s a summary of the Q & A:

What plans do you have for documents and resources for special education related to communication skills?
Whittaker explained that the edTPA “Academic Language” document is available in all 27 fields, and there will be one that is particular to special education. She added that SCALE also will be revising the special education section of “Making Good Choices” and said SCALE is open to suggestions.

Some candidates say they want a greater degree of feedback than the raw numbers they now receive. Are there plans for additional feedback?
Whittaker said that edTPA scorers are trained extensively to connect evidence with edTPA rubrics for consistency and reliability. Additional training for qualitative feedback would increase training time by a magnitude of three and time for scoring by a magnitude of four. “And if you think about time, you have to think about costs as well,” she added.

Pecheone weighed in, saying that in 20 years of experience with professional assessment, he has yet to see training that led to useful, objective, and consistent qualitative scoring. “At the end of the day, students who don’t meet standards want to know what it is in their portfolio that they need to improve upon. They are not going to get that from the rubrics unless they sit down and have that conversation with faculty.” SCALE provides “Understanding Rubric Level Progressions” in all 27 fields for this purpose.

What is your perspective on terminology in handbooks regarding informal versus formal assessment and formative versus summative?
Pecheone responded that people use different terms for different things. There also is a lot of blurring of the lines in PK-12 education between formative and summative assessment. While edTPA developers chose to use formal and informal, he encouraged the use of formative or summative in local discourse if it’s more comfortable.

Are there plans to make it more affordable to resubmit a portfolio when the original submission was unable to be scored?
Candidates can resubmit one or two tasks and are charged only for the task they have to submit, Whittaker clarified. It’s a $100 charge for one task.

Is there a reason or more thinking about why candidate scores on the rubric for providing feedback to students is consistently low?
Yes, this pattern appears at the state and national level, Whittaker agreed. She added that the real issue is whether candidates provide evidence that students understand their feedback; what kind of feedback do students receive that is helpful? Pecheone added that while there is an expectation that all areas are equally challenging, that’s not necessarily the case. For example, the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT) identified the same pattern.

When a student gets a “condition code” after submitting a portfolio, only the student can respond, and it can take from 3 to 5 days for Pearson to reply. That seems like a long time. Is there any way to talk with someone immediately?
Programs and candidates should review the submission guidelines carefully to avoid condition codes that occur when evidence is missing. If portfolios generate a condition code signifying rubrics that can’t be scored, candidates should call Pearson customer service. Beginning this spring there will be enhanced score reporting, including more detail from scoring supervisors about why the condition code occurred, said Heather S. Klesch, director, educator solutions for licensing and learning at Evaluation Systems Group of Pearson. She added that for reasons of confidentiality, candidates must initiate any queries on their portfolio or individual scores, as opposed to faculty. The condition code detail will appear on the candidate score profile and will be reported to programs.

How can New York State get more candidates to finish edTPA and get more candidates back into the classroom to receive faculty feedback?
Acknowledging there is no quick or easy answer to these challenges, Pecheone encouraged further dialogue and traced some of the trouble back to edTPA’s rapid implementation in New York. He said there has to be a conversation around building the support structures for edTPA. It does take time to put edTPA in place and get ready for it to be consequential. Pecheone noted that all other states have taken 4 or 5 years, and he promised to work “shoulder to shoulder” with New York around edTPA use and implementation.

For the latest updates on edTPA, visit http://edtpa.aacte.org.

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Linda McKee

Sr. Director for Performance Measurement and Assessment Policy