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A Retrospective Look at edTPA Implementation: 5 Years of Policy and Practice

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

The Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE) partnered with AACTE to invite practitioners and administrators from PK-12 schools and educator preparation programs (EPPs) to provide a retrospective look at the influence of edTPA since consequential use began in fall 2013. The panel participants presented their views of the benefits and challenges of educative edTPA implementation in different policy contexts; how actionable evidence from edTPA has informed their programs, teaching, and scholarship; and connections across the full continuum of professional learning and development for teachers. The March 2 panel at the 2018 AACTE Annual Meeting in Baltimore featured two new teachers who have completed edTPA over the past 5 years, a PK-12 administrator, EPP and state leaders, and two faculty scholars.

SCALE Director of Teacher Performance Assessment Andrea Whittaker opened the session by introducing the panelists and provided a framework for the presentation. Each panelist took 5 minutes to share their perspective on two or three aspects related to edTPA implementation, including challenges, benefits or opportunities, and impact on practice such as teaching and student learning, curriculum mapping, use of data, and PK-12 partnerships. After providing an overview of the assessment system and mentioning an expected association of edTPA and the professional continuum, Whittaker identified four edTPA claims: that it is a disruption to the status quo, provides actionable evidence to programs, can be an “educative” experience for candidates, and can be approached as inquiry or compliance.

Savannah Talley, a practitioner from PK-12, opened the panel discussion by describing her teaching in the classroom as “student minded.” As first grade teacher at Clubview Elementary School (GA) and a recent edTPA completer, Talley emphasized an important practice that impacts student learning, which is getting to know her students – not just socially, emotionally, family life, and interests, but also where they are academically. For her, this practice started with the edTPA process.

Focusing on the PK-12 partnership, Rachel Rowan, social studies teacher at DuVal High School (MD), described her training and her role as a local evaluator with the University of Maryland. One of the challenges that she faced while completing edTPA was collecting data while student teaching and finishing course work required by the graduate program. Rowan shared two professional benefits. First, when she started as a new teacher 6 years ago, she was prepared to navigate the observations protocols using the Danielson Framework due to the alignment with the edTPA rubrics. Second, Rowan is a National Board candidate. This professional progression was prompted by engaging with edTPA.

Starting her experience with edTPA as a mentor teacher and local evaluator with the University of Maryland, Stephanie Barber, proud principal of Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary (MD), confirmed the benefits of providing feedback to preservice teachers. In her current role as a principal and to recruit student-centered teachers, she uses her knowledge of edTPA to frame the hiring process, starting with the interview. Through edTPA, she knows, preservice teachers gain practice with demands of the profession such as collecting and analyzing data, planning data-informed instructions, and providing feedback. Barber said she bases the professional development plan for her teachers on the edTPA rubric scores to identify areas of strength and growth.

When it was my turn to share perspectives, I discussed using edTPA rubrics to identify effective teaching skills. I presented two research projects that I conducted in collaboration with Clavon Byrd of Cardinal Stritch University (WI). The first study used edTPA data to evaluate a mentoring model to support teacher candidates in completing edTPA during student teaching. The second project focused on using data to inform practice. The curriculum mapping model used the key skills measured in edTPA’s three tasks. The first phase of the research used edTPA scores to identify areas of strength and areas of need in the EPP program. Using rubrics developed by the researchers, faculty evaluated the level of implementation of each skill in their courses. This process informed our practices in preparing preservice teachers.

Using the “Single Story” context, Neporcha Cone, department chair at Kennesaw State University (GA), presented a counterargument to the claim that edTPA is a distraction from the real tasks of the classroom. Tackling the stereotypes caused by change and uncertainty, Cone presented the need for conversation and unpacking edTPA rubrics to identify effective teaching practices embedded within the rubrics. She shared the benefits of using edTPA in the accreditation and continuous improvement process. Furthermore, Cone shared how edTPA had a role in conceptualizing Kennesaw’s equity-oriented mission statement.

Kathy Angeletti, assistant dean and executive director of teacher education at the University of Maryland, College Park, informed the audience that edTPA is not mandated in the state, but the university chose it to use it as part of a program-required portfolio system. The assessment enables the program to center discussions on teacher candidates’ practices in the classroom. It also serves as a valid quantitative program evaluation tool. Angeletti highlighted other benefits of edTPA such as building partnerships with PK-12 through local evaluation training, preparing teachers to address equity issues, and using local evaluation training to prepare mentor teachers. The program has received positive feedback from candidates and partners confirming that edTPA is an important measure of teachers who are ready to teach.

Diana Lys, assistant dean at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, described how edTPA supports partnership not only at the PK-12 but also at the institution level. She said edTPA facilitates collaboration amongst all campuses by providing a common platform for all programs. The assessment also supplies useful data through a dashboard to facilitate conversation, support change, and provide a framework for coaching and professional development. Lys highlighted the role of professional networks such as AACTE in bringing together professional expertise to help shape policies and to advocate for authentic assessment.

In closing, the panelists responded to audience questions and reinforced the main benefits of using edTPA to inform practice in EPPs, build partnerships with PK-12, offer professional development workshops, and prepare teachers who are ready to meet the diverse needs of students in their classrooms.

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Randa Suleiman

Assistant Professor, School of Education, Alverno College