The 73rd AACTE Annual Meeting held a Deeper Dive session focusing on the edTPA teacher performance assessment. This session illuminated a variety of ways edTPA is being used and the multiple goals it is intended to achieve, including, a standardized measure of program quality, a high stakes teacher assessment for licensure, a performance screen for teacher quality, a professionalization tool, and a curriculum development framework for teacher preparation programs (TPPs).
AACTE’s new Board Chair Robert Floden, from Michigan State University, served as the moderator for the session and began by acknowledging outcome measures—such as edTPA—are used to measure teacher preparation quality for a variety of purposes including accountability, teacher learning, and program improvement. Further, he provided meaningful background about edTPA and how it was developed as an outcome measure that was closely related to teacher practice. Since 2013, edTPA has grown and been implemented in 41 states and the District of Columbia. This session pulled on the expertise of five researchers and highlights some of the affordances and barriers this performance assessment has for TPPs, teacher educators, and teacher candidates.
Cap Peck of the University of Washington began the session by recognizing there are both risks and opportunities associated with edTPA. In particular, he discussed the opportunity and value of using edTPA as a resource for program evaluation and improvement because it provides a common language to discuss practice, make comparisons, and see differences to make improvements within TPPs. He emphasized that in order to foster continuous improvement, organizational policies and practices need to support collective and collaborative program improvement.
Next, Drew Gitomer of Rutgers University discussed the need for a moratorium on the use of edTPA in the context of a high stake’s licensure exam. He drew on the failure to meet several key measurement expectations during his explanation for why edTPA should not be used for licensure. The three key components included
- Reliability is not reported
- Precision is not estimated in an acceptable manner
- Passing scores and passing rates are substantially different across licensure areas
Then Julie Cohen of the University of Virginia continued the conversation as she focused on the degree to which licensure tests, such as edTPA, inform teacher preparation curriculum. She discussed the complexity of this work, with a specific focus on implementation at the program
level and not at the institutional level. Further, she discussed equity implementations for candidates and the consequential ways variation between programs effects candidates in their programs and for licensure.
As the discussion progressed, Craig De Voto of the University of Illinois at Chicago discussed how TPPs have made sense of and responded to varied edTPA policy designs and contexts. He and his colleagues found that edTPA became a tool used for inquiry or compliance across teacher preparation programs. He proceeded to talk about the good, bad, and ugly findings from implementation of this tool. First, the good results they found were cross departmental collaboration, continuous program improvement, coherent foundation for field (e.g., academic language, teaching pedagogy, differentiation and assessment), and external legitimacy as a professionalization tool. The bad results they found were implementation challenges, particularly when mandated and philosophical challenges with equity and social justice. Finally, the ugly they found were divergent views of edTPA as a professionalization tool across the field with some teacher educators viewing it at as a de-professionalization tool.
To conclude the panel, Beth Kubitskey of Eastern Michigan University reflected on her experience implementing edTPA. She discussed her view of edTPA as a process that helped novice teachers provide a commentary linking their learning to their classes. Additionally, she and her colleagues were able to implement and use edTPA in a way that was educative for their students.
Overall, during the discussion, the panelists reiterated the many uses of edTPA and how it is being used across states and institutions. They further acknowledged the complexity of this work and the divergent responses and reactions by teacher educators and teacher candidates within institutions and organizations. At the end of the panel discussion, one participant asked, “Do you think this policy is a good or bad thing?” Fittingly, a panelist replied, “Well, it depends.”
Ann Marie Wernick, is a Ph.D. student at Southern Methodist University and AACTE research, policy, and advocacy intern.